Laura Petrolino

Do Selfies Sell?

By: Laura Petrolino | September 9, 2014 | 

SelfiesBy Laura Petrolino

The other night I went to a Portland Sea Dogs baseball game with some friends and my dog.

It was a special night at the ball field because they allowed dogs into the stadium to raise money for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

(We even got to parade around the in field!)

It was a super fun night full of baseball, dogs, and selfies.

That’s right…selfies.

At one point we were sitting in the stands and in looking around realized EVERYONE was taking a selfie of themselves with their dogs.


Of course not.

Selfies have taken over our photographic lives (and obviously those of our dogs as well).

These ball game doggie selfies were just a fraction of the approximately one million selfies taken daily and showing up across all the social networks.

And when you add in monkeys and other assorted wild life taking selfies, who knows what that number might rise to.

Selfie Sensation

The fact is, we love to photograph ourselves. Everywhere. Everyday.

So much so that 30 percent of all photos taken by those between the ages of 18-24 are selfies.

So of course, when anything is this popular, the question that always wanders into the minds of communications professionals is…

Do Selfies Sell?

Samsung certainly hoped so after the most famous selfie ever, which was taken at the Oscars, scored 3.5 million retweets and 32.8 million impressions in its first 24 hours.

But frankly (and maybe I’m just out of the loop), I had no idea a Samsung camera was used until I was researching for this article.

So, Samsung brand awareness fell short on me.

And for those who did make the brand connection, how many sells can be traced back to the Oscar selfie?

How many people thought to themselves, “Hey Ellen looks amazing in this photo. I need that camera phone”?

I’m simplifying this process of course, but still, things that make you go hmmmmm, right?

What’s Your Selfie Strategy?

So how about the rest of us, who say can’t sponsor the Oscars, get in on the selfie craze, and perhaps even teach Samsung a thing or two about “selfie strategy”?

We’ve talked previously about the power of user-generated content, and selfies are perhaps one of the easiest and most fulfilling form of user generated content there is.

You can:

  • Use selfies as part of contests: Both to build community and your database for subsequent email marketing and lead nurturing tactics.
  • Ask for selfies of customers using your product. Imagine showcasing all the different ways, people, and locations your product is being used. You might even be surprised yourself.
  • Ask for selfies of how they might use your product. Not only does this show your community the need your product fills, but it also will give you a good dose of selfie-fueled market research.
  • Have your team provide selfies: A day in the life, out in the field, or even just being human to help provide a more intimate face to your company and brand.

And then, of course, all of these spectacular selfie submissions (YAY for alliteration) can be integrated across all of your media channels in the PESO model.

Some examples might include:


  • Build your database through a selfie contribution and/or voting contest.
  • Use social advertising to promote your selfie call-out or contest.


  • Leverage the feedback and interesting tidbits you are finding through your selfie collecting to write relevant and engaging pitches.
  • Host a selfie blogger challenge or meet up and get a bunch of industry bloggers involved in a selfie showdown.


  • Share.
  • Share.
  • …oh and share those suckers.
  • Create a branded selfie hashtag for your organization and community to use when posting selfies.
  • Engage your community and encourage their participation and interaction.

Selifes are closely tied to our ego and self-esteem so always being encouraging and supportive.


  • Put together a selfie video montage and provide a backstory about those included.
  • Pick a community or customer selfie each week and profile that individual.
  • Do a selfie Q&A as a result of a product use selfie, asking the contributor some basic questions about how they use your product.

Have Selfie-Control

Selfies can be overused and the world of user-generated content.

And it requires this tactic to match up with clearly defined objectives in context of your overall strategy.

Don’t be let your organization be that girl who posts 20 selfies a day.

That being said, the world is the limit on how you can set up, support, and use an integrated “selfie strategy.”

Making your consumer, prospect, and overall community part of your brand in this fun and shareable way can add an effective user-driven element to any communications plan.

Photo credit: My dog Oliver and I taking a selfie at the Portland Sea Dogs game.

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • Corina Manea

    Selfie, what´s that? 🙂

  • Arment Dietrich, Inc.

    If selfies aren’t a big thing in Spain, please don’t tell Clay! ^ep

  • Corina Manea

    LOL. They are a big thing also in Spain.

  • I am a zillion percent sure I mortify my teenagers with the amount of selfies I take. And that amount is (hopefully) in inverse proportion to my self-centeredness. Most of mine are related to fitness (therefore bad hair, much sweat, very literal regard to matchy-matchiness), which I think makes my agenda first to motivate and second to give a little shout-out to the brands I use and the organizations with whom I affiliate. That said, as a regular old consumer, if I have a belief that a product-oriented selfie was taken as part of a promotion, that won’t make me NOT buy/use that product but it is very unlikely to influence me. When people spontaneously take selfies of products/services they love and distribute them, I take a little more notice and I try to do the same … sing the praises of stuff I love on social media just to give them the praise they deserve as a great product.

  • EmilyNKantner

    I’ve never been a huge fan of selfies–probably because I don’t want to be that girl that posts 20 a day. But it’s interesting to think about how they can be used within a marketing strategy. 

    Can we make it a requirement that they always include cute dogs??

  • You…you….YOU! 

    You know my feelings about selfies. Unfortunately for me, you made a lot of sense and gave a compelling argument, so here is a … Watching Bubbleguppies Selfie!

  • Oh gosh I was *hoping* this would become one of those “let’s a lot of us add selfies” kind of posts. Since Clay got the ball rolling, here’s mine (one of those ultra-glam fitness things) …

  • ClayMorgan Yes! I feel like I’ve won the selfie award of the year with this comment and photo!!! The best!

  • EmilyNKantner I’m obviously totally ok with this requested guideline. DONE! After all, cute dogs fix every problem.

  • biggreenpen um…is that a rainbow colored mustache? Wow Paula….just wow! 🙂

  • Laura Petrolino


  • Laura Petrolino

    It’s me!!!

  • LauraPetrolino biggreenpen Um, yes it is!!! It’s still affixed to my car right by the air conditioning vents! (backstory: it was an Anywhere5K for Movember so the moustache was part of that. Of course I ran with it on in broad daylight in an affluent local community because ……. I could!).

  • biggreenpen LauraPetrolino It’s AMAZING!

  • lkpetrolino

    EmilyKantner Operation Cute Dog has launched!

  • EmilyKantner

    lkpetrolino LOVE it!

  • SELFIES!!!

    I love this, even though you obviously stole the idea from my brain before I had a chance to write it myself. 
    It’s OK, I forgive you, because you did such a great job with it. <3

  • CarolineGilbert

    Yay for selfies! 

    My favorite example of “selfies” and user-generated content has to be from the best (IMO) beauty blog, Into the Gloss. They do a #ITGTopShlefie (spin off of their Top Shelf interviews of people in the beauty industry), where readers can submit photos of their beauty products. See them here: 
    While they’re not selling a product, definitely keeps readership (and ad revenue) up.

  • Feh. Kids these days with their damn selfies. I was taking selfies back when you didn’t have a screen to look at to frame the picture with. In fact, I was the master of the selfie while driving.

  • Michigan, 1994.

  • My morning selfie. 😉

  • belllindsay The sad part about fall: It’s cold. The happier part about fall: Lindsay dresses  like Kenny from South Park on a daily basis

  • Eleanor Pierce That chip I implanted in your head always comes in handy!

  • CarolineGilbert boo, this link doesn’t work! But I love this idea!

  • RobBiesenbach I’m going to try one more time to post this comment, but Livefyre hates me today. So if everyone else can see my last two responses, bear with me….ugh

    I’m seriously impressed and scared that you were able to take these shots while driving (and that no one got hurt). And I’m now very proud to be able to tell people that I know THE founder of the selfie! 🙂

  • LauraPetrolino Just hiding my double chin. LOL

  • CarolineGilbert

    LauraPetrolino Boo! 
    Sidebar: how strange is it that you can’t search for terms on Instagram if you’re using a web browser but you can in your smartphone app?

  • Ha! And I cropped out the beverage in my driving hand in that second photo!

  • Strangely, Livefyre emailed me your other two replies even though they don’t show up here. Weirdzies.

  • RobBiesenbach oh dear….

  • RobBiesenbach Well then you know how much effort I put in to admiring your awesomeness. It’s like a part time job!

  • CarolineGilbert LauraPetrolino That drives me nutso too!

  • Pingback: But First, Let Me Take a Selfie | lukasawesomeblog()

  • For those of you looking to up your selfie game (and don’t have RobBiesenbach ‘s mad skillz), here you go:

  • samanthaf

    This was a very well written article and I took a lot from it. I just started blogging for one of my classes and it gave me the idea to see if I can incorporate selfies into my blog. I want to try to incorporate them somehow to help make my blog more appealing to my readers and maybe even gain a few!

  • Pingback: “Selfie Strategy” | doubekgracea()

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