Are travel brands taking advantage of the selfie phenomenon?
It is difficult to determine when taking pictures of yourself and posting them on social networks REALLY hit the mainstream – but the selfie has hit a groove this year.
From Ellen de Generes at the Oscars to US vice president and president Joe Biden and Barack Obama (even Tnooz has messed about with it), politicians, celebrities and sport stars have decided the selfie is 2014’s fun thing to do.
It works – thousands, sometimes millions, of retweets and likes and just a general buzz about the subjects.
Indeed, those that mock the rise of the selfie often forget that it just mostly a bit of harmless fun and it is actually A Good Thing that people are – shock, horror – having a good time.
Travel brands are trying to work their way into the phenomenon, hosting competitions or encouraging travellers to take a selfie and share on Facebook pages.
But it does feel like the idea of combining a personal moment of enjoyment when travelling with some kind of marketing exercise is actually difficult to do given the volume of content out there.
The data illustrates the issue. Tourist guide service Suggestme has analysed some 6.3 million messages across the main social networks to try and understand where most of the web’s flurry of selfies this year are coming from.
The three most popular cities on the planet for selfies (and their respective landmarks) include:
- London (Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Buckingham Palace)
- New York (Times Square, Statue of Liberty)
- Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum)
The other cities which make up the top ten:
But the question remains: are travel brands making the most of this enthusiasm for the selfie, often taken at some of the planet’s most popular tourist hotspots?
The simple answer is probably that selfies, for all their very public exposure, are actually rather personal items and those happily snapping away do not have enough of an affinity with a brand or destination to align themselves with it during these moments.
And therefore, brands should maybe just accept that despite the breadth and volume of content out there, perhaps it should simply be left to individuals, without any coaxing, to promote somewhere organically.
Some selfies do indeed hit the big time, in terms of exposure and reach.
One recent effort, for example, is a series of video clips from a global traveller, Alex Chacon.
Chacon posted his clip to YouTube just a week ago and has already managed to capture some 5.5 million views.
Here it is:
Similar to the Where The Hell is Matt viral clip from a few years ago, such a clever piece of content is ripe for a travel brand to muscle in on – but then such activity is always reactive, rather than proactive, which is perhaps what makes the selfie such a unique idea – and one not to be tainted by exposure-hungry brands or destinations.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.