Will the 'Smilie™' replace the selfie?

May 4, 2015

Imagine all 316 million Americans intentionally sharing their smiles with the goal of brightening the lives of their friends, co-workers and loved ones.

Imagine all 316 million Americans intentionally sharing their smiles with the goal of brightening the lives of their friends, co-workers and loved ones.

Delta Dental of Minnesota, Minnesota's largest provider of dental insurance, serving more than 4 million members, conducted a test between January and April 2015 to see if Minnesotans would share their smiles with each other. The results of this experiment are captured in a new video released by Delta Dental of Minnesota.

Calling it a "Smilie™" instead of a selfie, Delta Dental invited users to post a photo of themselves smiling along with a message based on the following sentence: "You make me smile because…" The smiles and messages were posted on the organization's "Send A Smile" feature on thepowerofsmile.comand sent to the recipients through email and Instagram. Senders and recipients need not be members of Delta Dental of Minnesota, and the page is still live.

Traffic to thepowerofsmile.com tripled, and many heartfelt, funny and unexpected Smilies™ reportedly have been sent; all of them on display on the website within the "See The Smiles" gallery.

To learn more about the campaign, watch the video below:

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The difference between a Smilie™ versus a selfie, explains Tim Quinn, chief marketing officer and vice president of consumer sales for Delta Dental of Minnesota, "is that with a Smilie, a person is intentionally trying to brighten another person's day with a photo of their smile."

"According to scientific research, sharing a smile can truly create positive feelings which may offer a positive impact on a person's health," Quinn says. "And, it's a two-way street-both the person offering a smile and the person receiving a smile, benefit."

Quinn points to several scientific studies linking sharing of a smile with improvement in overall health. According to a Psychology Today article, "There's Magic in Your Smile: How Smiling Affects Your Brain (June 2012)," smiling releases powerful chemicals in the brain that may reduce stress and lower heart rate. Similarly, a Swedish study revealed that when a person receives a smile, whether in person or even in a picture, our brains are hardwired to imitate the behavior-in other words, smile back.

"We are in the business of helping people use their dental benefits to attain and maintain healthy, powerful smiles," Quinn added. "We know we're doing our job when people want to share their smiles. People with healthy teeth and healthy bodies feel more confident about themselves and are more productive. Healthy, powerful smiles are contagious-in a good way!"

Related reading: What your patients are doing while waiting for an appointment