How Selfies Can Promote Your Small Business

Author: Kristen Lund Date: July 10, 2014

Selfies aren’t just for Miley Cyrus. Here’s how to incorporate the photos in your marketing plan.

With the likes of President Obama and Pope Francis posing for selfies—or self-portraits taken on smartphones—and with Oxford Dictionaries deeming “selfie” the word of the year for 2013, the trend is here to stay.

Zach Burrus admits he doesn’t often snap and share his own selfies on social networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but he believes that the photos are loaded with marketing potential for small businesses. Burrus, a marketing analyst at SHIFT Communications in Boston, shares several ideas of how companies can use selfies to promote their work.

Find a spokesperson.

National brands such as Samsung have gained notoriety for paying celebrities to snap selfies with their products (does Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie ring a bell?), but small business owners can achieve the same effect on a local level—and for a lot less money. “If you’re in a small town and the mayor pops into your store, if other people can see that (through a selfie), that’s pretty cool because everyone can relate to and recognize the mayor,” Burrus says.

If your business has a regular customer who’s well known in your city (think politicians, news anchors, athletes, etc.) and is social media savvy, ask if he or she would snap a selfie at your business or with your product. Don’t stress about making a formal request or offering payment or rewards, Burrus says: “The relationship is somewhat inherent, and the ask can center around a conversation. If a customer feels valued, they’re less likely to expect incentives—plus, they’re getting their name out there, too.” (But occasional rewards, such as free or discounted products or services, never hurt.)

   RELATED: How to Get Celebrities to Promote Your Business

Promote your products.

One of the best examples of a company using selfies to showcase its products is Dunkin’ Donuts’ Fan of the Week contest, in which fans post enthusiastic selfies of themselves with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee using the hashtag #mydunkin. The brand prominently features each week’s winner on its social media channels.

The approach works for small businesses, too. “One of the most effective ways is tying it to a contest or incentive,” Burrus says. [Related: 3 tips for running a contest to promote your business.] “Any call to action makes people more likely to do it.”

One way that small businesses can encourage customer selfies is to connect the call to action with a local event or significant day in your industry. For example, Burrus recently visited a music store on Record Store Day; the store posted photos of customers holding records they had purchased there. Another idea: Offer discounts or freebies to customers who take selfies at a local event, such as a festival, parade or sporting match, that your company sponsors or participates in.

Show your personality.

While the focus should be on your customers—they’re also your social media audience—small business is and should be personal. Don’t be afraid to share selfies of yourself or your employees on the job, at a community event or with new or featured products. “In small business, the people are key,” Burrus says. “You are the face of your business.”

Read Next: How 3 Small Businesses Use Instagram for Marketing

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