The defining moment of the 2014 Academy Awards happened in the audience and on Twitter. While the Oscars ceremony lumbered along with the usual moments of awkward onstage patter and stars showcasing their plastic surgery, Ellen DeGeneres snapped the selfie that was seen around the world: a joyous moment of herself surrounded by stars such as Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. According to The Washington Post, it took less than 45 minutes for DeGeneres to break President Barack Obama’s record for the content with the most retweets. Welcome to the Academy Awards in the era of the visual storyteller.
Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, more than half of adult Internet users post photos online, and we post more than 300 million images a daily on Facebook alone. Pinterest is the third-most popular social network after Facebook and Twitter. Recently, Twitter paved the way for more visual tweets by making previews of Twitter photos and Vines more prominent in your content stream. With one selfie posted on her Twitter feed, Ellen DeGeneres tapped into our visual storytelling zeitgeist.
The post went viral because so many viewers actively participated in the Oscars on their own social spaces in real time. The Academy itself posted selfies and show updates on Twitter — a smart move from Oscar that taps into natural human behaviors.