Why Selfies Matter


By Michael Lucas

Media has never been more social. Today we seemingly document and willfully air our every move on multiple platforms all at once. Sharing, sometimes over-sharing, and even bragging a bit, too. We’re all guilty of it. But in this land of likes, comments and tweets, it’s the “selfie” that is king. Yes, a simple self portrait and Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year, the selfie is not to be outshined. The selfie image can captivate an audience in a way few other images or content can. Maybe that’s because the successful selfie is effortless, often spontaneous, a peek behind the scenes, and dare we say, authentic.

Still intrigued, we tracked down Todd Ballard, Director of Sports Marketing over at GoPro, to learn more about the selfie phenomenon. And who better to talk to? Todd’s an action sports industry marketing vet who’s been guiding GoPro through their explosive growth which must be the byproduct of outfitting the world with unobtrusive, high quality cameras to document their unique perspectives.

Can you discuss the proliferation of self portraits and self-centric content?

For GoPro, that moment happened when our Founder and CEO Nick Woodman was on a surf trip with his friends in Australia and had the idea to turn his wrist camera around to film himself in the barrel. He didn’t need a photographer or friend to take the photo—Nick could capture the moment himself. A category was born. Flipping the orientation of the camera completely changed the game and allowed the masses to capture their life moments to then share with family and friends.

And now GoPros are an integral part of life in 2014 …

The applications are endless—from Kelly Slater’s self-documented barrel shots, to capturing a child’s first bike ride, to playing fetch with your dog—GoPro cameras are inspiring the masses to be creative, resulting in content that has never been seen before.


How do you market to this “Selfie Generation?”

For GoPro, it starts by showing consumers mind-blowing, aspirational content from unique perspectives, as well as aligning ourselves with premier athletes and events. This provides a platform for us to illustrate and document the capabilities of a GoPro, in turn providing an easy-to-use technology to users so they can document their life’s passions and share them with the world.

Is this phenomenon of the selfie going to last? Is it generational?

I believe it’s here to stay. The personal perspective is only continuing to grow and we feel we are just scratching the surface of possibilities.

How important is self-generated content for an athlete/celebrity/musician regarding their respective audiences?

I think it’s expected now. Self-generated content allows fans to see intimate and never-before-seen perspectives of how their hero lives. The distribution of this content helps to build a more personal relationship with their fans, which is a huge win for sponsors and individual brand building. We see many more celebrities adopting GoPros into their personal marketing campaigns—in turn driving additional social engagement.


Where is it the need to photo oneself headed? Is there going to be a backlash for narcissism? Or are we as a society going to post every moment from monumental to mundane?

Narcissism is prevalent in more than just self images being posted—just observe Twitter. Like any piece of content being shared across Social Media, what is considered mundane to one may be monumental to someone else. I think that’s what makes this segment so powerful.

What is the single best GoPro moment you have ever seen?

I’ve seen so many, but one that stands out is the fireman who rescued the kitten from a burning building and revived it. Totally unscripted and something the public otherwise would never have seen without the GoPro he wore on his helmet.

Firemen saving kittens. That’s hard to beat. Anyone? We got nothing.