Fueled by historically high social media usage and more than 4.48 billion users, the cultural phenomenon of taking selfies has become as much of a business opportunity as it is an obsession. A selfie isn’t just a self-portrait, however. It’s a statement. It’s an indulgence. Some consider it art. It’s even become a picture-perfect opportunity for commercial real estate firms like KBS.

Selfies as a business
The selfie movement is driving growth across many ventures, including selfie photo stations as well as photo editing apps and mobile apps designed for the sole purpose of taking selfies.

Selfie museums and interactive pop-up exhibitions have also found their way into the lens of a smart phone. These types of establishments are designed with exciting backdrops and creative props/furniture for selfie-taking and social media sharing. Famous exhibits include the travelling Color Factory that features rooms themed around the concept of color. During its nine-month tenure in San Francisco in 2017-2018, this exhibit drew more than 170,000 visitors.

Also worth noting is the multi-city Museum of Ice Cream, with its ice-cream and candy-themed installments that include a “sprinkle pool” and “Pop Rock cave,” that has attracted more than 500,000 visitors. The trend isn’t limited to pop-up exhibitions, however; now, art exhibits such as Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience and the Upside Down House give art another channel through social media.

But what’s the purpose of great selfie accessories and interesting locations if the art of taking the actual selfie is lackluster? Fortunately, companies have thought of that as well, with a plethora of training courses available that cover everything about taking the perfect selfie, including the right camera setting, angle, lighting, etc.

Harnessing the power of social media
Selfies have become a leading marketing strategy. The sheer volume of the selfie culture gives it a tremendous amount of influence, and many brands are capitalizing on the power of selfies to grow their business through tactics like social sharing campaigns that turn ordinary customers into brand ambassadors. Influencer marketing also goes hand-in-hand with selfie marketing, whereby a social media influencer collaborates with a company to endorse their products/services across their social media platforms.

This marketing approach has proven to be a favorite according to a recent survey by Influencer MarketingHub, showing that 90% of companies believe influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing with 75% planning to augment their respective budgets. Influencer MarketingHub pinned the space to grow to $13.8 billion this year.

Commercial real estate enters the picture
Commercial real estate players across the country are taking creative twists in their designs to establish selfie hot spots and engage with the broader community. In the Kansas City suburb of Leawood, Kansas, Capitol Federal Savings Bank — a tenant at the KBS-owned Park Place Village — recently sponsored an interactive selfie venue that targeted Generation Z taking control of their finances. For three months, the venue featured money-themed exhibits, including a life-size Monopoly game, a room covered in pennies, and a money tree. The campaign generated significant social media engagement.

Several other KBS properties are also known for their natural selfie backdrops, including Main & Gervais office tower in Columbia, S.C., home to the Architecture of Strength, an impressive monolithic sculpture made of 316 polished stainless-steel pipes that are laser-cut and welded. Created by renowned South Carolina artist Deedee Morrison, the sculpture has garnered the attention of many local selfie takers and serves as a daily reminder of the profound contribution that women make to the community and beyond.

There’s also the KBS 24-story Carillon building in Charlotte that features dramatic, neo-Gothic architecture. But what gives Carillon that selfie prominence is its artistic allure. The building is home to several masterpieces listed on Charlotte’s Public Art Walking Tour that attracts hundreds of visitors each year. Most notably is Jean Tinguely’s “Cascade,” a celebrated 40-foot kinetic sculpture suspended above an indoor fountain in the lobby of the Carillon building. It’s the last kinetic sculpture from the artist before Tinguely’s death in 1991. Additionally, two murals incorporating the “Queen City” theme by Osiris Rain of Charlotte are showcased at the property, as well as a rotating art gallery that features sculptures and paintings from local and other renowned artists. All, ideal for background to a selfie.

Selfies may not be for everyone, but the phenomenon is here to stay. In fact, it’s expected to continue to evolve, reshape and influence social and professional norms for generations to come.

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