No doubt you’ve taken a “selfie,” a self-portrait taken with your mobile phone camera and shared on Facebook or other social media channels. Although selfies have been around for years, they have gained popularity recently. In December 2012, Time magazine noted that selfie was among its the “top 10 buzzwords” of 2012 and in August 2013, the term selfie also made its debut in Oxford Dictionaries Online’s quarterly update where it is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
While selfies are easy to do, they can also go horribly wrong. Recent research suggests that taking and posting too many selfies on your Facebook profile (or other social channels) can be damaging to your relationships. As CNET sees it, “If you’re one of those people who posts pictures of yourself to the Corn Flakes fan page, you are yourself a corn flake.”
But do selfies have benefits, especially for social change causes? I wondered whether selfies can be used as part of your social content strategy to help support a social good cause? I asked this question on my Facebook brand page, and here’s what I learned:
The New York Public Library Photo Booth
The New York Public Library is using selfies as part of its social media initiative to engage library patrons. A couple of weeks ago, the NYPL installed photobooths at its 42nd Street and mid-Manhattan locations, encouraging visitors to step inside and tweet the results. The photos from both are then immediately uploaded to a Flickr, where anyone can scroll through shots of the library’s enthusiastic patronage. The use of selfies helps mobilize library fans in a new way and make going to the library a more integrated online experience. This is especially critical in the face of severe budget cuts.
Fedoras for Faireness
Anita Jackson pointed out that the immigration reform movement has done a couple of selfie campaigns, including #Fairdoras. Fedoras for Fairness uses the fedora hat as a metaphor for the many hats that women wear to create a brighter future for all. It is also a symbol of the need for immigration reform that treats women fairly, and a declaration that though women wear many hats. Supporters are encouraged to share photos of themselves wearing a hat with the hashtag and say why the campaign is important. This campaign combines the popular selfie with the time honored hold a sign meme.
Using photos for online organizing is not limited to the US, it is global. Here is a recent example from Global Voices Online reporting on how activists in the Philippines used selfies to protest train fare hikes.
National Wild Life Federation
Selfies are not limited to humans. NWF launched this wonderful series “If Wildlife Took Selfies” series on Instagram, using photos contributed by National Wild Life Photo Contest entrants. Here’s some advice for taking your own selfie from NWF.
Family is Familia
Johnson & Johnson sponsored a contest where they donated $1 for each selfie photo donated through Donate a Photo.
Movember, a fundraiser and awareness raising campaign for prostrate and testicular cancer where men grow mustaches on their faces and raise money for cancer charities, also encourages the use of selfies as part its community engagement.
Have you seen great examples of nonprofits using the “selfie” meme for good? Share the link in the comments.