The naked selfie effect

UNEXPECTED: Beauty brand Frank Body's suggestion for customers to promote the business on social media had a surprising effect.
UNEXPECTED: Beauty brand Frank Body's suggestion for customers to promote the business on social media had a surprising effect.

Would you take your clothes off, snap a selfie and post it on Instagram?

Beauty products maker Frank Body is encouraging women, and men, to do just that using #thefrankeffect.

Or would you post a selfie of yourself right after a vigorous workout in the gym?

That's what 24/7 gym chain Jetts wants customers to do at #SweatySelfies.

Using selfies on social networks is a novel marketing tactic that businesses are tapping into.

Social media strategy expert Gina Lednyak says it is a growing trend.

"It's a trend that has been created not by business but by consumers themselves."

Selfies may have been popularised by teenagers, but once people in their early twenties caught on and started doing them, that's when business started to pay attention, says Lednyak, founder and managing director of L&A Social Media.

Big overseas brands have used this strategy well. The luxury label Coach encouraged customers to post images to Instagram and Twitter of their shoes being worn around the world tagged with #CoachFromAbove. Clothing manufacturer American Apparel held a selfie contest at #AASelfie with entries wearing the label's outfits.

Bree Johnson, co-founder of Frank Body says customers sending in their "naked selfies" just happened on their social channel.

"We never really came up with the idea. We always encourage user-generated content and urge our customers to really get involved in the product. We haven't told anyone to go and take naked selfies."

With every pack of the exfoliating coffee scrub the company sends out, customers are encouraged to say what they think.

"With every packet that we send out, we send them a flyer, which just says, 'Hi, this is Frank, this is what he is about, we'd love to know what you think and for you to share it to your friends on Facebook or Instagram.' We never offered any incentive or prize or anything," says Johnson.

Frank Body then put up a blog post for users on how to take the "perfect frank selfie".

Martin Oliver, chief executive officer of Jetts Fitness Australia, says they found members were regularly taking selfies during or after a workout. "This inspired us to create #SweatySelfies," he says.

"We wanted to create a campaign that united members and removed the intimidation that often comes with gyms. We created #SweatySelfies to show members that at the end of the day, regardless of your fitness level, we all sweat - and when you've smashed out a workout you should be proud and celebrate by taking selfies and sharing them."

Lednyak says there are pros and cons to using customer selfies on social media.

"The pros are definitely that you have your customers making a public claim to being involved with your business," Lednyak says.

"The other pro is that by doing that emotionally by committing to something publicly we're actually taking a stand saying, 'I like this' . . . If I publicly announce that I like a certain gym enough to publish a photo of myself, then in the future I'm more likely to stay a fan of that gym."

On the other hand, says Lednyak, one cannot control what people are going to put up. "For example, with Instagram, when someone puts something up on their own profile and hashtags your brand, you can't delete that. They're posting it to their own network.

"So you do have to forgo a bit of control. Which depending on the kind of brand that you are, if you do have quite a strict brand guideline there is no way to guarantee that your community will follow that brand guideline.

"The other con is that because a lot of brands are doing it, you are at risk of falling into being same-same. If you see your competitor doing it, it's too late. You need to come up with an innovative idea."

Oliver says the one of the benefits of this strategy is that it allows members to be proud of their workout and share it with their friends and online communities.

Frank Body's Johnson says the benefits of having this level of interaction are great for the company. It has around 35,000 images under the #thefrankeffect and more than 356,000 followers on Instagram.

The company abides by Instagram's terms and conditions when reposting the photos that they like. "We can't post any content that's too sexual or out there."

Jetts' Oliver says there has been a good response to the #SweatySelfies campaign, with 1487 #SweatySelfies and 13548 #Jetts on Instagram.

So should SMEs be joining the trend?

"If you're a business that could get away with doing something a bit fun then definitely it's a nice way to jump on board, but give it a unique spin that applies to your own business," says Lednyak.

"If you're a more serious business then it probably isn't the right fit for you . . . Always look at your customer audience and decide whether you feel your customer audience will be comfortable with doing something like this."

Sydney Morning Herald