The Phenomena of the Selfie





Written by: Stefanie Stewart

April 24, 2014

Let’s be honest, we’ve all taken a selfie. But where did this phenomena of a selfie start? What is a “selfie”? How does it function in our society?

First let’s talk about what a selfie is. Wikipedia contributors define a “selfie” as follows:

 “A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr. They are often casual, and are typically taken either with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror”

“Selfie” was the Oxford word of the year in 2013, so it must be pretty prominent, right? How did the selfie start? I believe the changes in technology (such as the front facing camera on Apple products) as well as certain social media has allowed for the rise of selfies: Instagram and Snapchat specifically. 

Why do we take selfies?

Selfie’s can be a cool way to show what you are doing. Are you at the top of a mountain with nobody to take an awesome picture of you? Take a selfie! This astronaut is a great example.



How cool is that? However, don’t use this as an excuse to take a selfie because you’re at the gym…

Everyone longs for human connection: it’s a psychological need. As technology has evolved, less people talk on the phone and rely more heavily on text messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Where one would previously hear someone else’s voice, now they just read what another says. So why not add a more personal aspect to quick communication? Selfies (on Snapchat specifically) allow for “face-to-face” interaction with the people you are communicating with. You are physically seeing the person you are talking to. It gives a personalized way to communicate. 

Selfies may have started in personal lives, but they are now prominent in media and marketing. As you may well know, Ellen Degeneres now holds the trophy for the most retweets on Twitter, due to her star studded selfie at The Grammys. This led to consumer exposure for Ellen and all the celebrities in the picture, but also publicity for The Grammys and the network as a whole. It also may have created more buzz around how people (or companies) can use selfies.

A lot of companies have used selfies to their advantage as a marketing tool. It allows them to connect the consumer with their brand culturally. They can use it as a marketable tool due to the popularity of selfies. Lancome did just that this past week with this tweet:



They used this tweet as a way to connect with their consumer, and also held a contest for the best selfie using their product. It’s all about consumer engagement, which they did using the selfie. I expect to see a great deal of companies having promotions like this.

Another great example of selfie marketing: Turkish Airlines

They used popular culture in a multitude of ways: Kobe, Messi, and the selfie. 

The selfie can be used in marketing in many ways, and the possibilities are still out there. Since it is still relatively new in social media marketing, I am interested to see what creativity will come from it’s usage. Let’s see what the selfie can do!

Now go take a cool selfie and have some fun with it (like these parents!).

Other fun side notes:

Technology created the selfie, and technology can now TAKE selfies. How cool is that? 



Mars rover selfie. 


Another example of how media uses selfie’s is the SONG “#SELFIE”. While I personally believe it is a bit obnoxious, it gives good examples of people taking selfies and how it is prominent in media. 





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