I used to find the whole selfie trend (or, what I originally thought was only a trend) to be incredibly embarrassing–that is, I was embarrassed by the complete narcissism of my social media friends. It seemed to me (and still does, in some cases) that some people spent ridiculous amounts of time in the mirror taking irrelevant pictures of themselves either out of complete insecurity and the need to earn validation from others, or so much security that they just couldn’t NOT let the world see how fucking good they look.
Then I kind of maybe got off my high horse and realized I’m just a lot better at hiding my narcissism, and does that really make me much better? My fear of what people think of me (i.e. that I’m vain) and my need to hide the fact that I am, in fact, vain (as most of us are), in some ways makes me way more self-involved than some of those Instagram selfie stars.
Never Undressed pointed out that selfies may have replaced street style, citing Garance Dore of The Sartorialist‘s comment that street style is “Fashion Week style,” very purposefully curated and rarely representative of actual street style. Street style, it’s pointed out, is now more of an intentional marketing tool, but if that’s true, how far behind are selfies as such?
The idea of selfies as a marketing tool isn’t really a new concept, and fashion blogging is proof of that. And when uncompensated consumers tag brands in their selfies, that’s really just another form of word-of-mouth. But what is new is brands who are actually inviting their customers to participate in the conversation.
An example of this is J Crew. I recently was in the fitting room and saw a sign actually asking customers to Instagram photos of themselves–it actually used the word selfie–and use the hashtag #JCrewstylesessions. By doing this, you get a chance to be featured in an upcoming style guide.
The difference between marketing and PR is that marketing only requires the one-way dissemination of info, which in most cases would be casual social media users mentioning brands in their selfies. The PR element comes in when you actually invite customers to participate and then use their information to create more feedback. It’s symmetric communication, and it’s PR 101. And your customers are going to love you more for it.
Using our own narcissism as a marketing ploy? HOW DARE THEY? (How soon can I put together a J Crew outfit?)