What Marketers can Learn from THAT Selfie - huzzah! digital
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Unless you’ve been hiding out in a cave for the past few days you’ll have heard about the Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie. Having accumulated more than 1million retweets in less than an hour of being tweeted it’s being termed as “the most epic selfie of all time”.

Yes, we get that a picture of loads of celebs including the likes of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence is going to do well, heck they’ve got about  4 million followers between them. But that’s not the point.

What we’re interested in is the way in which Samsung turned this seemingly spontaneous moment into a very clever marketing ploy and work out what we, as social media markers can learn from this whole selfie situation.


So, we already know that the selfie wasn’t an act of pure spontaneity, as part of Samsung’s sponsorship of the Oscars, the mobile company negotiated to get both ad break slots and product placement for its Galaxy smartphone throughout the event. Combine this with the fact that DeGeneres had already been toying with the idea of taking random selfies during the show and you can imagine the excitement at Samsung HQ.

As Samsung was a sponsor it was suggested that she use a Samsung device to take the shots, rumour has it the Korean company had even sent out a trainer to teach DeGeneres how to use the Galaxy Note handset in the run-up to the event. How’s that for forward planning?

With advertising cut-through becoming harder and harder to achieve it does make you wonder where Samsung saw the biggest return? From the $20million investment into the ad breaks or the seemingly free viral selfie shot?

Now we’re not naive enough to think that Samsung would have accomplished this had they not been shelling out a few million to get the placement in the first place, however what we can all recognise is how the company intentionally or otherwise managed to work social media into its targeted ad campaign and to great effect.

So, what can we learn from this event?

Crowdsourcing is Key: More and more people are switching off from traditional advertising. That’s not to say it’s going to become obsolete, there always has been and always will be a place for it. However, think about it like this… you’re watching your favourite Film awards ceremony and you just so happen to be in the market for a new phone, the ad break comes on and you see the usual happy, smiley people using anther generic-looking phone complete with generic sounding voiceover telling you how great the device is. Or, you see your favourite actress using a brand new Samsung device, oh and look, there’s another actor using the very same phone within minutes of one another. The next thing you hear is that there’s an amazing photo doing the rounds, which has been taken using nothing less than that Samsung handset you saw earlier. Which one creates a more impressionable image?

The real take-away: Getting other people to share their positive experiences of your brand will often get more engagement from fans than if you’re trying to do it yourself.

Find your Influencers and Engage: Samsung could have gotten anyone to do a group selfie, but the fact of the matter is they didn’t. They used what they knew would work, a big old group of influential people. It’s a simple principle that every good content and social media marketer can work with. Think about it, if you want to find out about something on a particular topic where do you go to find out information? To specific websites where you know you’ll get expert advice. The more people who go to these experts the quicker they become influencers, meaning they’re often in the perfect position to help a brand reach a highly engaged, relevant and well-targeted audience.

The real take-away: Find influencers or industry experts in your niche and get them on your side, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation and get to know them before you ask for something from them.

Target Relevant Trends to Increase Reach: It’s definitely no co-incidence that Samsung’s campaign involved a trend that had become so popular that the word to describe it (selfie) was recently added to the Oxford English dictionary. There’s always a risk when brands use a new fad or trend for marketing, mainly in case the stunt goes wrong, journalists see straight through the activity or if the crowd suddenly turns against it altogether. However, seeing as selfie is an official term and a recognised content format globally there was very little damage control to be done here.

The real take-away: Look for emerging opportunities that’ll get you noticed above and beyond your competition. Just make sure you do your research to ensure it’s something worthwhile investing in and isn’t about to go out of favour.

When you break it down, it really was an extremely simple concept and we suspect the reaction to it far surpassed DeGeneres or Samsung’s expectations. If there’s anything we can learn from this, it’s that sometimes the best things are the simplest. There’s no need to over complicate social media; after all most of us are only there to have a bit of fun.

AUTHOR: Harriet Rhodes
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