For many millennials, it is already second nature to document every mundane moment of their day by taking a selfie. And now that habit can actually help them make a little extra cash, thanks to Chicago-based company Pay Your Selfie, which pays people to share their photos (and their data).
The premise is simple. Pay Your Selfie issues sponsored tasks, such as “take a photo brushing your teeth with your favourite Crest product.” The users do so, and Pay Your Selfie then delivers the aggregated data and images to brands. One insight to come out of this process already is a spike in consumers brushing their teeth between 4 and 6pm — a small nugget of information, but useful nonetheless.
The money consumers can make depends on the task; a sponsored selfie can earn them $1, while an un-sponsored photo makes considerably less. Un-sponsored tasks, such as “show us your breakfast,” help Pay Your Selfie to identify popular products and then partner with brands.
According to co-founder and CEO Michelle Smyth, Pay Your Selfie is an unobtrusive way of gathering data from an existing trend. People already share their favourite products and places on social media — so why not get paid to share that information with brands?
“We want to be straight-up about what we’re doing, and its not about one consumer, it’s about the trends in aggregate,” she says. “If you’re looking at 20, 30 or 40 images or more, over a period of two months… you establish a consumer profile.” This treasure trove of images, along with additional assets like timestamps and geolocation data, paints a highly accurate portrait of the consumer in their natural habitat.
“One problem with traditional consumer research is the gap between what people say they do (or would like to think they do) and what they actually do,” writes Courtney Rubin at The New York Times. “Selfies would seem to have the same problem, as anyone who’s ever posed for one and decided it was too embarrassing or revealing to share knows.”
But that’s not deterring consumers from signing up for Pay Your Selfie, perhaps encouraged by the fact that they don’t need to share their images on public sites like Instagram. Since the app launched last September, over 100,000 people have become users and incorporated it into their daily routine.
“It’s not data you could get through Nielsen,” adds Smyth. “It’s one of a kind research.”