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Unless you’ve been living in a box for the past couple weeks, you’d undoubtedly heard about the now infamous selfie taken by Ellen DeGeneres during the 2014 Academy Awards. Ellen DeGeneres, who hosted the show, took a moment to compose a selfie in the audience with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie, amongst others. She then proceeded to ask viewers to retweet it. The results were astounding.
The tweet, taken March 2, has since been retweeted almost 3.5 million times with almost 2 million favorites. It shattered the record for retweets of 780,000 times, which was previously held by President Barak Obama when he tweeted a photo of himself and his wife embracing after being re-elected.
While those numbers are certainly impressive, the bigger story is exactly what that means in terms of exposure. Twitter posted a blog article 3 days after the show detailing the anatomy of a tweet. On March 5, when the article was written, the tweet had only received 2.4 million retweets. That tweet was embedded 13,711 times into websites. Blog and news articles were written about it and 8.1 million people saw the actual tweet itself. In terms of social reach, as of March 5, that single tweet had been viewed a total of 32.8 million times. It has now been retweeted 3.4 million times which, using some simple math, would increase that reach to a whopping 46.4 million times. To put that into perspective, according to the Washington Post, only 43 million people actually watched the Oscars. You must also keep in mind that this social reach only accounts for social reach on Twitter. Who knows how much larger this figure would be when you factor in shares across other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc. My guess is that the actual figures are staggering and easily in the hundred of millions.
There were three big winners that night. First, and foremost, Ellen DeGeneres and her show (which is the Twitter account under which she tweeted the selfie) made out like bandits. Second was Samsung. Samsung, a sponsor of the Oscars, denies that Ellen’s use of the Samsung Galaxy S5 was part of their sponsorship agreement. In their statement reported by CNBC, Samsung said, “While we were a sponsor of the Oscars and had an integration with ABC, we were delighted to see Ellen organically incorporate the device into the selfie moment that had everyone talking.” They were so happy, in fact, that they decided to donate $3 million to St. Jude’s and the Humane Society; both of which are supported by DeGeneres. However, due to the fact that, according to CBS News, Ellen was tweeting the whole night from her Apple iPhone, there are some conspiracy theorists who don’t quite believe that her use of the Samsung phone was organic. The final winner was Twitter itself. In a time when they are seeking to monetize their platform through Promoted Accounts and Tweets, there is no better example of the potential for exposure that their platform presents to business.
While most businesses won’t be able to take a selfie as glamorous, or tweet it from an account with so many followers, this most certainly should prove to businesses that social media should have a place in their marketing and public relations strategies. My guess is that record will stand for quite a long time.