Lessons From Ellen’s Twitter-Breaking Oscar Tweet

During every major television event,  brands hope to take the coveted win in social media. We saw it during last year’s Super Bowl when Oreo tweeted its timely “You can still dunk in the dark” image when the stadium’s power went out. And this year, Tide tweeted a series of Vines with the hashtag #getsitout in response to other brands whose products could possibly stain clothes.

While the efforts of these brands were a success, who could have predicted that the most successful live tweet would be during the Oscars? And not even by a brand?

This month’s ceremony was hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. She was refreshingly funny and clever, at one point actually ordering pizza and passing slices around to celebrities in the audience. She tweeted a selfie of herself looking out at the crowd. But the most talked about moment was when she organized a group selfie with a handful of celebrities, including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Click here for the tweet.

The group photo, depicting all involved smiling and laughing, generated over 2.6 million retweets and more than a million favorites in one day (it’s now got over 3.3 million retweets and almost 2 million favorites). It greatly surpassed Barack Obama’s famous reelection photo and became the most retweeted tweet of all time, overwhelming Twitter and causing the site to temporarily crash.

It’s impossible to predict what type of content will go viral. Brands try to achieve virality all the time. So what lessons can we take away from Ellen’s tweet? For starters, it helps to have a millions of TV watchers, and photo of a bunch of celebrities enjoying each other’s company and joking together.

What was so refreshing about the tweet was its spontaneity. None of the people involved knew it was going to happen. And they all got in on the joke. They weren’t taking themselves too seriously, and they enjoyed what they were doing.

It will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for someone else to break Ellen’s retweet record. But as a Long Island digital marketing agency, we think anyone can benefit from being more spontaneous, lighthearted, and humorous in their tweets, and other social media updates.