For Fun and Profit, Jump on the Selfie Train

If Google Trends are to be believed, Americans got less self-centered after March 2014. That’s when searches for the word “selfie” peaked. As of Friday, though, the work piqued less interest — its search popularity was only 68 percent of that height. The relative continued popularity of the hashtag linking to self-portraits, often taken with mobile devices and involving prominent forearm framing, may explain why some marketers are still succeeding by joining the #selfie ranks. I’ll explain that phenomenon below. But first, let me take a #Selfie.

[Warning: This music video may not be suitable for work. #NSFW]

For those who didn’t understand that last reference, “but first, let me take a #Selfie” is a lyric from the song “#Selfie” by The Chainsmokers. The irreverent music with a catchy rhythm inspired the YouTube parody above that has nearly 2 million views but is too inappropriate for Target Marketing to link here. Considering “BestVine” uploaded that clip in March 2014 and Billboard shows the song hit No. 16 on the Hot 100 chart on April 5, “#Selfie” probably helped contribute to that peak in search volume.

However, the phenomenon may be here to stay. Per an August 2014 post on “The Oxford English Dictionary called out ‘selfie’ as the 2013 word of the year. More than half of all Millennials (age 18-33) have taken a selfie and shared it online, according to a March 2014 Pew Research Center poll.” (Google shows “selfie” reaching an apex of 51 percent in December 2013, slightly more than half of its March 2014 popularity.) Here are a few tips to help marketers be just as sought-after:

1. Be Original. Search volume for the word “selfie” actually dropped to less than 60 percent of its peak volume during the fall 2014 airing of the short-lived ABC comedy “Selfie,” which was based on the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion. The show’s main characters are Eliza Dooley and Henry Higgs. Ahem.

2. Do Research. Don’t assume. Where do marketers think the highest level of interest in selfies is? New York? Wrong. It’s Oklahoma, according to Google.

OK, then. LA? Nope. Hawaii, says Google.

And what are searchers trying to find? Dates? Wrong. Here are the top 10 terms: Selfie stick, take a selfie, the selfie, selfie tumblr, girl selfie, selfie song and selfies. (Okay, so “girl selfie” is debatable. Maybe teen-agers are trying to find dates, but that’s just an assumption.)

3. Find an Angle. #Trelfies debuted in March 2015, courtesy of The site asked travelers to “submit their most memorable travel selfies in a variety of categories. Whether relaxing on a tropical beach, trying a new adventure with the family or hitting up a hot nightclub, wants travelers to submit their best vacation trelfies, and for a limited time, have a chance to win a vacation.” According to the site that states the contest is finished, the largest number of trelfies appear to come from the U.S., Europe and India.

The #Yellfie debuted at the Seahawks’ stadium in fall 2014, according to DNA Seattle Blog’s September 2014 post about the PEMCO Insurance booth. In the booth, football fans could record themselves yelling for their team. The results were … loud.

4. Use the #Selfie Song in a Subject Line. “Email subject lines containing song or movie titles see 26 percent open rates vs. 16 percent for traditional subject lines, according to the “Retention Science Email Subject Line Study,” reads an article I wrote in April 2014 for Target Marketing.

5. Newsjack, But Be Genuine. How timely and relevant was the March 2014 Oscar selfie? “MIPTV: Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar Selfie Worth as Much as $1 Billion” reads an April 2014 piece in The Hollywood Reporter. For more information on how to newsjack, check out this Target Marketing article.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.