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Marketing opinion

The rise and rise of the selfie

Selfies are on the rise. And we're all guilty of taking a few of our own and exposing them to the social networking world.
Gone are the days where you needed a professional photographer or someone else to take pictures of you, using cameras with film rolls where half the images never developed properly.

Now all you need is a smartphone and yourself - that's why it's called a selfie.

Selfies are pictures taken by you of yourself with the intent of uploading them to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networking sites. They offer a small amount of self-control in a snap-happy era where you can play supermodel and photographer at the same time.

World record selfie

Like all photographs, there are good selfies and bad selfies that should never ever be seen by the public (keep the duck-face to yourself), but the key to all selfies are nonchalance and good timing. However, that combination doesn't always guarantee a great selfie.

Stand-up comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres set a world record (and temporarily "broke" Twitter) at the Academy Awards that took place on 3 March 2014.

Photo via @TheEllenShow
Photo via @TheEllenShow


DeGeneres, who hosted the Oscars, managed to take an all-star selfie that broke US President Barack Obama's record for the most retweeted photograph.

Not only did she set a new record for the most retweeted tweet of all time, DeGeneres is also the first Twitter user to top 1-million retweets for a single Twitter post - 1,300,000 retweets in one hour!

Cunning marketing

But the all-star selfie has raised ethical questions, after it emerged that it was actually a cunning product placement by Samsung, an Oscars sponsor.

According to Yahoo Finance, it had originally been DeGeneres' idea to take selfies during the broadcast - which was perfect for TV network ABC and the sponsors, who had already taken a decision to integrate the new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (the phone used to take the picture) into the ceremony.

One of the first teen selfies, taken by Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia using a mirror and Kodak Brownie box camera, in 1914. Photo via Wikipedia
One of the first teen selfies, taken by Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia using a mirror and Kodak Brownie box camera, in 1914. Photo via Wikipedia
But the whole notion of the selfie being a spur-of-the-moment thing has been subverted by this particular shot. And it begs the question: is it OK to present a specifically planned marketing ploy such as this, as a spontaneous event?

Samsung likely doesn't care. It probably got more bang for its buck out of this one image than it did for its entire advertising spend on the Oscars, of around $20-million. And the debate and spoofing, such as this Simpsons parody of the Oscars selfie, means it's still getting mileage out of it.

Social network users are into interesting, wacky, relevant, weird, out-of-this-world, original content.

It's content like DeGeneres' all-star selfie (although it should really be called a groupie), Obama's victory photo after his re-election and the Selfie Olympics that get users sharing, tweeting, retweeting and lead to major exposure.

Unfortunately, Obama also chose the wrong time to pull in for a selfie with the Danish and British prime ministers at Nelson Mandela's memorial service at FNB Stadium in South Africa last December. Michelle was not amused ...

Before you take your selfie, make sure that it really is the right moment for one.
    
 

About Daphney Mngomeni

Daphney Mngomeni is a media developer and communication specialist who works for Flow Communications, one of the country's top digital and communications companies. Follow her on Twitter: @Nomagugz
Tshepo Moselane
Selfies have indeed taken over! And we all have to admit that a selfie a day, keeps the ego intact! Lol
Posted on 6 Mar 2014 13:09
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