Tuning through the channels a few days ago, I happened to land on C-SPAN. I caught the very end of a campaign speech by Carly Fiorina. She’s a good speaker, but what she said wasn’t what caught my interest. It was what happened after her speech that was telling.
After her talk, she did what most candidates do. She came off the stage and walked into the audience to work the crowd. And this is what struck me as most interesting.
Not too long ago, she would have been shaking hands, exchanging a few words one-on-one with people, and signing autographs. But as I watched her in the crowd, which was mostly younger, only two people asked for an autograph. She shook a few hands… but only a few. It looked like she had a brief conversation with one person. But with all the others – perhaps 40 or 50 people – the only words that were exchanged seemed to come from audience members, saying something like “Would you..” and “Thank you.”
They were asking the candidate to pose with them for a selfie. And she happily complied, as each person put his or her arms around Fiorina or put their face pressing right up against hers. Kind of close-up and personal, it seemed. It was a selfie assembly line, and the candidate adeptly moved from person to person, cell phone to cell phone without missing a beat.
At first, I scoffed. But as I thought about it, I realized that the selfie actually IS much more personal than an autograph, even one written to the autograph-seeker by name. And unlike an autograph, which most of us don’t frame and put on a shelf in our living room, a selfie with a celebrity can be blown up, framed and displayed prominently.
And it’s a chance for the person to throw it out there immediately on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et al, showing the world their brush with fame –or actually, touch with fame, smiling check-to-cheek, arm wrapped around the celebrity. It can be shared instantly with dozens or hundreds of friends and online acquaintances, which is a lot more than the than couple of dozen friends or relatives who might happen to spot it in your living room.
For the candidate, it’s a windfall, expanding the reach of her appearance to perhaps thousands more than the attendance of her live audience.
Some marketers have found ways to capitalize on “the new autograph” – putting a brand mascot or logo in places where people will take selfies and share them, for example. It’s opening up entire new ways for brands to engage with consumers and share the branded experience with all their friends.
We’ll be seeing more of it, I’m sure, as we surf our Facebook and Instagam feeds.