If someone told you 20 years ago that you could make bucket loads of money and influence sales trends simply by taking a picture of yourself, would you have believed them? While the idea of taking a “selfie” or a self-portrait is a concept that has existed for decades, it wasn’t until social media sites like MySpace and Facebook started gaining in popularity that taking a picture of yourself and posting it online became popular as well.
However, it was in 2013 when Oxford Dictionary declared “selfie” word of the year that selfie culture really took off. Before 2013, there were plenty of influencers on YouTube promoting brands, but the rise of influencers on other platforms in the years to follow is when influencer marketing started shaking things up. Between 2014 and 2016, statistics show a significant increase in influencers affecting consumers—with 74% of people turning to social media for help making purchase decisions and 73% of brands and marketers allocating a specific budget just for influencer marketing.
Before we dive into how influencers affect the market today, however, it’s helpful to understand where this selfie culture craze comes from to fully understand why this type of marketing works.
The Psychology Behind Selfie Culture
Our culture and many others have indeed found ways to document our lives and images of ourselves for centuries, but of course, the ability to instantly snap a photo and share it has only recently become a phenomenon thanks to smartphones. Is the ease of using a smart device and the internet the only reason selfie culture is so big, though? It’s certainly a contributing factor and a significant one at that, but what else necessitates our desire to take photos of ourselves?
One health and wellness company believes the following are some of the main reasons why selfie culture is so woven into our society and how we live our lives:
- Documentation and memory: Taking photos, specifically ones of ourselves, help us look back on fond memories and savor them. It essentially creates a frozen and permanent moment in time that is always there to help us remember good times, which in turn boosts our mood in the present and reminds us that there are more good times ahead.
- Empowerment: Being proud of who we are and how we look and posting images of ourselves for our friends, family, and even the whole world to see is a significant source of empowerment for many individuals. Putting photos of ourselves out there takes a lot of courage, and pressing that post button is definitely a bit of an ego boost.
- Brings us together and promotes awareness: Before social media and the internet, staying in touch was not quite as easy. Now, not only can we easily keep in contact with our family and friends, but we can make connections around the world. Additionally, we are much more aware of what is happening globally as world news, and current events are at the touch of our fingertips.
- Creates new jobs: The idea that we can find new avenues to make money and have a sustainable career simply by taking photos and videos of ourselves also feeds the selfie craze. So many young individuals, and even older generations, integrate social media into their everyday lives now. Everyone is hoping that they can either make a little side cash or that millions of followers will discover them, making them the next big influencer.
How Selfie Culture is Influencing the Marketplace
Now that we know what selfie culture is exactly, where it came from, and why it’s so popular, let’s look at how and why this modern trend is having a massive impact on the market.
To start, consider why selfies work so well as a form of advertising. Selfies sell, but why? The answer—because they feel more authentic. While there are some truly clever and attention-grabbing ads out there, many feel that the constant onslaught of advertising in their feeds is annoying and overwhelming. We are much more critical these days, and if something feels disingenuous or too sales pitchy, we just keep scrolling.
Selfies, however, feel real. It’s a peek into how someone genuinely lives their everyday life and the products and services they are using. This type of selfie-based advertising embodies authenticity and feels much more realistic and simple. It’s relatable. And when we see people like us not just promoting these products but genuinely showing us how they work and how great they are, we are more than happy to hit that purchase button.
Selfies Equal Sales
Though some are starting to worry that social media marketing is losing its edge, this is far from the truth. While some platforms are losing their cool factor, others are gaining in popularity, and we will only continue to see new platforms added as the years go by. So while it’s not likely that social media will die out, individual platforms will. But as long as brands continue to keep up with trends and the latest apps, social media will continue to exist as a powerful tool for brands and marketers.
If you don’t believe us, take a look at some of these stats from Sprout Social:
- 70% of marketers are looking to increase their investment in video content for things like Instagram Reels and TikTok
- 500+ million people use Instagram Stories daily, and many of the most-viewed videos come from brands
- 87% of people say they make purchases because of influencers
- 70% look to Instagram to find new products
Which Industries Benefit Most From Selfies?
Any business can market itself and use influencers on social media. There are no rules really to who can or cannot use it and benefit from it. However, some niches and industries tend to see the most success when utilizing social media, such as health and beauty, fashion, entertainment, retail, real estate, and even education.
Just remember that trends change. It’s essential to keep in mind that doing the same thing over and over again with your social media marketing, no matter what industry you’re in, is not likely to boost your sales and keep you on top. Social media is all about what’s new and trendy, so if you want to benefit from the power of influencers and social media marketing, you’ve got to stay ahead of the game.
Author: Adrian Johansen
Adrian Johansen is a writer and marketer in the Pacific Northwest. She sees life as an opportunity for learning, and loves to share knowledge with others. You can find more of her work here.