Twitter has been trying to break through to the masses. CEO Dick Costolo believes that the service can be the "global town square." But user growth has been mostly slowing quarter by quarter. Samsung has been trying be as cool as Apple, even though its mobile phones far outsell the iPhone. And everyone in Hollywood wants to be part of an iconic photo the spreads virally around the globe.
Then the Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie happened, an inspired bit of vamping, product placement and star power. The selfie was seen coming into existence on TV by an estimated 43 million viewers in the U.S. and hundreds of millions more outside the country. The now famous selfie has been retweeted over 3 million times, and brought Twitter down for a brief period. The host network ABC claimed that nearly 3 million Twitter users issued 11.2 million tweets during the broadcast.
As a way to increase user engagement, visibility and generate revenue, Twitter could call the Oscars a success. But will the Ellen selfie push Twitter deeper into the mainstream, and motivate millions more people to join the fun? Not any more than it will motivate more people to pick up the latest People magazine to see pictures of stars at the Oscars. However, it will cause an epidemic of selfies among dedicated Twitter users.
Samsung joined Twitter in playing a prominent supporting role in the Ellen selfie. She handed her shiny, white Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to Bradley Cooper to take the pic. Samsung paid somewhere between $15 and $20 million to be part of the show. But those hundred of millions of viewers Sunday night weren't asking what was that oversized phone Ellen was using and where can you buy it.
Nontheless, the Twitterati will be talking about this Oscar moment until someone breaks the Ellen selfie record for retweets and favorites. The gamification of selfies. It will be a requisite part of every award show, concert, political debate, etc. going forward. Those who aren't part of the Twitter world will be talking about that weird Oscars picture and wondering who is the person to the right of Bradley Cooper.