What the Ellen Selfie at the Oscars was Really About

The Ellen Selfie

I’ve seen all sorts of snarky comments about how the star-studded selfie tweeted by Ellen during the Oscar show was about product placement or self-indulgence. Or how it was a waste of time and only made the Oscars longer and more boring.

But the fact is, it worked. People responded. There were more retweets of that moment than of anything that has ever happened on Twitter before.

If it was such a bad idea, such a waste of time, why did it work?

All the snarky pundits are missing a key point about social media. It’s social. It’s community. It’s shared experience. When Ellen asked the audience to retweet her selfie to set a new record on Twitter, it was something that everyone watching the Oscars could participate in together. An audience, a socially engaged audience, could make something happen together. It was a moment of community engagement and action.

It was the most brilliantly successful thing ever accomplished with social media. Could it be reproduced in other ways, at other times, by other people?

There were some built in advantages for this particular selfie.

  • There was a huge audience for the tweet watching on TV and already engaged on Twitter
  • People like Ellen. When she asks for something, giving an affirmative response is easy.

If you didn’t start off with those advantages would you be able to pull off a successful social media event? Maybe someone else couldn’t set a new record like Ellen can, but someone else could come up with a creative idea and get a large response. Stuff goes viral all the time. This event was viral times infinity.

Can we learn lessons from this selfie phenomenon that could be applied to more serious situations? Hurricane relief, citizen uprisings, floods, crimes, causes?

Who will the next social media genius to mimic an effect like this be? Are you thinking about how to do it?

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