21 March

Power of Social Media: The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World

Ellens selfie power of social media

Hollywood’s award season always brings a lot of newsworthy moments – from red carpet fashion to Oscar winners and upsets. This year’s Academy Awards show on March 2nd was another three-hour long show with the usual musical performances, tributes, mix of heart-felt and awkward acceptance speeches (calling out Matthew McConaughey here),  and jokes poking fun of celebrities.

However, all the deserving Oscar wins and fashion moments may have been trumped by host Ellen DeGeneres’s spontaneous decision to take and post a selfie – that both loved and reviled baby of social media and smartphones, making the night’s biggest winners Ellen, Twitter, and Samsung.

Creating an Interesting and Unique Moment in Social Media and Marketing

Proclaiming a lofty goal of setting a new retweet record, Ellen’s selfie quickly morphed into a picture of the who’s-who of Hollywood. Captured by Bradley Cooper, it included the likes of Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong’o and her brother, plus Jared Leto’s eyeball. Talk about setting up for success.

President Obama’s “Four More Years” photo was the previous record holder with 778,800 retweets. Ellen’s garnered over one million retweets in just over an hour, causing Twitter to momentarily crash. It could be argued that few people could get such a response – no matter whether the public figure was a Hollywood celebrity or political figure. Ellen has a strong social media presence with over 13.3 million Facebook followers, over 27.8 million Twitter followers, and nearly 4.5 million Instagram followers. Add to that a fun Oscar picture, and it’s no wonder it became a phenomenon.

The second winner was Twitter. No website wants to admit even a momentary defeat; a crashed site is pretty embarrassing, but it seemed to not hurt Twitter but rather added to the moment. While Facebook is still the most used social media site, Twitter appeals to a younger demographic who is social media savvy and loves the immediate interaction Twitter enables.

Others have since tried to capitalize on Ellen’s photo retweet success and attempt to beat her record– everyone from Homer Simpson to 65-year-old Texas business owner Terry Shipman. Shipman didn’t beat Ellen, but he’s still a winner: he went from fewer than 10 followers to over 9,000 and over 185,000 retweets of his photo, a simple selfie of him with his two pups. A true testament to the power of social media.

Now to the last big winner: smartphone manufacturer and Oscar show sponsor Samsung. With the help of a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, the Tweet heard ‘round the world was made possible. Though Samsung was a sponsor, the moment didn’t feel like a contrived bit of product placement (think the Coke cups on American Idol judges’ table ) making Ellen’s Oscar selfie was also a PR and marketing boon. Mentions of Samsung across the interwebs increased dramatically – by 27 fold, and with over 40,000 social mentions throughout the Oscars alone. And that’s without actually being mentioned in Ellen’s original tweet!

I suppose the moral of the story is the power of social media and having a presence. Social media can make or break a person, a company, or a brand. Use it wisely, and you never know what could happen.