Capitalising on the selfie

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‘Selfie’ was named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013. No surprises there as research showed that its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the previous year.

It seems official then that like it or not, selfies are here to stay. And the quickest way to share what you’re doing, where you are and who you’re with is by taking a picture and uploading it onto a social networking site. Selfies don’t have to be an annoyance, although there have been reports linking it to narcissism, addiction and mental illness.

Still, it has not halted or jolted people out of the trend; what with US President Barack Obama and television show host Ellen DeGeneres having done the same, and 26-year-old entrepreneur Jason Ang of Fotobox is banking on how selfies can be used to create awareness and build brands.

Realising that people share pictures on social media to feel connected to friends and family, coupled with the fact that it is one of the easiest, fastest ways to share experiences with hundreds simultaneously, with just a click of button, Fotobox presents Mobsta.

It is Fotobox’s answer to people’s obsession with the selfie. Essentially, Mobsta is an extension of its original product — photo booths placed at events which enable guests to not only take their pictures, but edit them and share them instantly on social media.

The difference? Mobsta is completely portable — it’s a lightweight photo engagement tool designed to look both pretty and futuristic (a nod to Apple’s success with its stellar product designs) and eye-catching.

It allows event organisers and brands to reach into spaces not covered by the main areas of any event. Visitors can snap pictures, customise and share them on social media, as well as head to the nearest stationery Mobsta printing station to obtain physical prints. Now, what could be more fun than taking a selfie, sharing it with friends, and then getting a hardcopy for remembrance?

Ang says Mobsta is so effective in drawing visitors that it is capable of doubling or tripling the amount of data collected, and increases online traffic to any one brand. In recent months, Malaysian brands and event organisers that have used this tool include giants GAP, Tory Burch, Superdry and Guess. For these campaigns, results tallied by Fotobox showed that Mobsta succeeded in doubling return-on-investments on brand exposure, consumer engagement, data collection and Facebook as well as Instagram traffic.

Ang cites a recent Guess campaign in which Mobsta successfully created a reach of 18,197 online impressions through photos taken, copies printed, digital copies sent, and people participating on Facebook. Overall, 1,264 likes on photos posted were generated on Facebook — only with the help of three Mobsta units covering the event grounds.

The secret to Fotobox’s success was thinking Blue Ocean. The “Blue Ocean strategy” states that by creating uncontested market space, businesses can create a leap in value for the company, its buyers and employees, and unlocking new demand while rendering the competition irrelevant.

“The story of how Fotobox started goes back to my six years of experience in sales and marketing when I co-founded an interior wall product company, with my brother, which happened to focus a lot on carrying only innovative products to the market. That experience led to my passion to create something that could bring great value to brands across industries,” Ang shares. 

“There are almost no eureka moments in an ordinary start-up business, in my opinion; ideas have always been there, if it has not, it’s probably a bad idea. Entrepreneurs are just great at connecting things.

“Traditional photo booths have been around for decades; what we did was just innovate on something that already exists by creating a new experience for users, and inadvertently created more value for brands,” he explained to The Edge Financial Daily.

Traditionally, events could only reach out to a certain number of people who happened to pass by, but there would always be those who missed out, if they did not go anywhere near the vicinity of the event. 

With Mobsta, one can theoretically reach every corner of a shopping mall, for instance, by employing brand ambassadors to roam the entire floor area to capture potential customers. Even regular closed-door events held in a large space can be conquered by Mobsta — it’s designed to reach out to up to 90% of the attendees in the shortest time frame.

“Mobsta is just an extension of our vision of bringing value-added services to our clients. Social media has become the backbone of retail and marketing today.

“There are over 15 million active Facebook users on mobile in Malaysia alone, and every event requires ways to connect, reach out or simply share information to the world. There is no better and quicker way to do it than through social media.

“All the technologies that we’ve designed ensure that we provide the latest and most comprehensive solution for digital and on-ground activation for our clients. I believe greater engagement has yet to come. We see great potential in the new marketing and event industry,” Ang said.

The ultimate goal for Ang is to innovate on ideas and technologies in order to allow brands to obtain further reach and engagement with as little cost as possible.

In short, Fotobox has employed the Blue Ocean strategy to its fullest — invent something that fills a need, reduces the cost, and continues innovating. With today’s technology that is evolving faster than we can anticipate, it looks like Ang and his partners are really only at the starting line, and the finish line does not seem anywhere in sight yet.

The company has now branched out into Singapore and Australia, where ever more brands are beginning to utilise Fotobox and Mobsta to capitalise on the world’s love affair with the selfie.

For enquiries and information about Mobsta, send an email to [email protected] or visit


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 22, 2014.