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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

How 4 companies use selfie marketing to reach customers

Crafting a marketing message that ties into trending topics is key to catching the customer’s eye. Trend of the moment: the selfie. So trending, in fact, that last year the Oxford Dictionary named "selfie" the Word of the Year, and Instagram has more than 88 million photos that don the #selfie hashtag.

They’re taking over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other social media outlets. From January 2013 to December 2013, the number of brands using these self-portrait photos on Facebook and Twitter increased from 18 to 390, and those running selfie contests increased from 265 to 988, according to research by Unmetric.

Not every selfie posted by a brand successfully improves the customer-brand relationship, however. Among the clutter of brands trying new strategies unsuccessfully and those mastering innovative ideas, we’ve sorted the good from the bad to show what it takes to nail the selfie strategy.

“Selfies can combine humor and reality for social media campaigns, in particular when other marketing tools can’t; however they have to be used in the right way to be successful and shouldn’t be undertaken without careful planning,” said social business expert Carolyn Blunt.

Here are four examples of how companies are using selfies to engage with customers:

Trade a selfie for a coupon. When customers post a selfie wearing Urban Degree clothing and touting the #urbanselfie hashtag, the South Africa-based fashion brand offers them a $10 off coupon in return, according to MarketingProfs. As part of its selfie campaign, the customer with the most retweeted selfie will win $1,000 shopping spree. The selfie campaign boosted awareness of Urban Degree's social media presence and had a goal of increasing footfalls to its brick-and-mortar stores.

Tie in timely holidays. Around Valentine’s Day, Axe Deodorant launched its #kissforpeace campaign and asking customers to submit photos of themselves kissing. The result? More than 34,000 tweets with the hashtag, but the deodorant company hasn’t yet reached its goal of 50,000 tweets, but it's certainly on its way. On a weekly and monthly basis, Axe selects a customer to receive Axe product prizes and will offer its final grand prize winner a trip to Berlin.

Demonstrate the power of the product. GoPro didn’t have to try hard to get customers to post photos taken with their GoPro cameras. Instead of featuring pictures of the product as many companies do, the personal camera company shows what its products can do by having customers post breathtaking views and thrilling adventures.

Call in the celebrities. Selfies are great for getting customer involvement, but Turkish Airlines took its #SelfieShootout contest one step further by hiring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi to market the campaign via a YouTube video. Customers then uploaded selfies with a chance to win a free flight. The YouTube video received more than 130 million views within two weeks of its release, and its huge success encouraged the airline to create a “selfie” app, according to Sprout Social.

These brands are effective at showing they’re current by playing off the selfie trend and turning customers into word-of-mouth marketers by having them share brand messages socially. Innovative strategies that deliver value and rewards to the customer are sure to be a success.

What other top-notch selfie campaigns have you seen?

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