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How social media is breaking down barriers, one selfie at a time

The usual glitz and glamour associated with the Oscars prevailed last night as the A-list celebs walked the red carpet to strike a perfected pose in front of the world's media for that all-important front-page pic.

Ironically, it ended up being a smart phone 'selfie' snap, captured by Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres, that set tongues wagging this morning and became one of the highlights of the evening, dubbed "the best selfie" ever.

The photograph seemingly started off with Ellen and Meryl Streep but soon expanded to include Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Spacey among others in a picture taken by Bradley Cooper.

There was nothing polished about it, which added to its charm.Because it was a spontaneous snap, the lighting wasn't perfect, the ladies wouldn't have had chance to re-apply their lippy (not that they needed to), but the celebs were willing to replace that perfect pout for a cheeky grin.

It was current, it was fun and it worked - to the extent that it smashed the record for most retweets, with 1,076,971 in less than an hour. Wow.

(Quite frustratingly, it has since emerged that the picture was part of a promotional stunt for Samsung, a key sponsor of the event but, irrespective of this, it shows that we all love a spontaneous selfie.)

Social media has helped break down barriers to give us a detailed look at the lives of celebs since around the same time that the word selfie became part of our everyday vocabulary and was named word of the year 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries.

From following a whole host of A-list to Z-list celebrities on Twitter and Instagram myself; I'm amazed at how much they share on social media.

All of a sudden you know what they're doing, what they're wearing, who they're with, what they're eating. You feel as if you know them on first-name terms.

We get a detailed level insight into their personal lives - dependent upon how much they want to share with us - all from the click of one follow button.

And this isn't just the case for celebs. This is also prevalent among broadcasters, athletes and world leaders - yes, there is evidence to show Obama and Pope Francis partaking in selfies. Google it now, it's worth a look.

During the winter Olympics, athletes provided a sneak peek into what happens on and off the slopes which added to our experience of watching and enjoying the sport. This regular feed of images and captions kept us interested and TV commentators even dedicated daily time slots to discuss what was being shared and said on social media on highlights programmes.

Numerous fashion brands have also been investing in Instagram and Twitter to share exclusive previews, backstage pictures and designer sketches during Fashion Week.

It's a 360 degree glimpse into their world, which we wouldn't get to experience any other way.

And more companies should be taking a leaf out of their book.

No matter what industry you're in, I recommend you start considering capturing "behind the scenes" snaps (whatever that may entail) and sharing them in real-time to keep followers informed and interested with a certain level of transparency they've never had before.

This can build the company's brand personality, which in turn can help develop an online tone of voice to show a more human angle to the business which ultimately builds trust.

And with consumers being more empowered than ever (which is also down to social media), there's no better time to build a relationship - and trust - with your consumer, whatever you may sell.

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