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Oscars Showcase Power of Second-Screen Interactivity

Matt Kapko | March 6, 2014
Twitter dominated the social conversation on Oscars night, but it holds no exclusive claim to that role on live TV. The battle for second-screen companionship in real-time on social media has never been more competitive. But the big question: Can Twitter and Facebook translate second-screen supremacy into advertising dollars?

Twitter may have finally met its match on Sunday night in Ellen DeGeneres. The host of the 86th Academy Awards posted a series of live tweets throughout the broadcast, but one in particular appeared to bring Twitter to its knees on its path to becoming the most retweeted post ever.

The selfie to end all selfies was captured in the audience by actor Bradley Cooper's outstretched arm and managed to squeeze a dozen celebrities in the frame. DeGeneres achieved her goal of drumming up the most retweets ever within an hour, and surpassed three million retweets by the following afternoon.

Ellen's Selfie Tweet

The Selfie That 'Broke Twitter'
The star-studded selfie spread like wildfire despite a 24-minute long service interruption that caused problems for Twitter immediately after Degeneres published the tweet. Within minutes, she gleefully told the audience "we crashed and broke Twitter."

The official account for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences even poked fun at the outage about 11 minutes later with a screen capture of an error page on the site and the quick message: "Sorry, our bad. #Oscars."

The previous record-holder for most retweets, a photo of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in an embrace on election night in 2012, has garnered 781,780 retweets to date. Within 24 hours, DeGeneres' tweet beat that record four times over.

Comparing Retweets to Likes
While Twitter dominated the social conversation on Oscars night, it by no means has an exclusive on live TV chatter. Interestingly enough, DeGeneres cross-posted the Cooper-snapped selfie to Facebook where it has generated more than 2 million likes at last count. It's still a far cry from Obama's victory photo on Facebook and is unlikely to shatter that current record for the most likes with 4.4 million to date.

DeGeneres' social activity during the Oscars once again elevated Twitter to the front of the pack as the social media platform of choice for live events on TV. But the battle for second-screen companionship in real time on social media has never been more competitive. Just as Twitter finds its groove with key celebrities and major events in Hollywood, other services like Facebook and Google have picked up new flagship opportunities on American Idol.

Twitter may have accomplished its many feats during the Oscars' telecast organically, thanks in large part to DeGenere's activity and support throughout the event, but there are other avenues for second-screen relevance as well. Natural and unplanned social activity may follow the same logic that native advertising tries to convey, but there are still big partnerships to be inked with tent-pole TV programs.


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