Ellen DeGeneres broke Twitter Sunday night, but the social network can't complain: Her selfie stunt generated as much publicity for the site as it did for Samsung, the night's sponsor and maker of the phone used to take said selfie.
DeGeneres spent much of the night working the audience--handing out pizza slices and lottery tickets--and decided to take a seemingly impromptu selfie with nominee Meryl Streep. Other celebs got in on the action, resulting in a star-studded shot that DeGeneres then tweeted from her Samsung device. DeGeneres encouraged the world to retweet her, which more than 2.6 million people (and counting!) were happy to do, making it the most-retweeted photo ever. That honor was previously held by President Barack Obama.
It's unclear how many people signed up just to retweet Ellen--though if the number is substantial enough, perhaps Twitter will announce it--but the traffic was so overwhelming that the network briefly crashed.
But Twitter needed the exposure. The network has struggled to gain traction with new users, and CEO Dick Costolo said during the newly public company's first earnings call that making Twitter easier to understand and use was a top priority. Having a popular star like Ellen promote the network during one of the most-watched TV events of the year goes a long way.
All told, more than 14.7 million Oscar-related tweets were sent during the live telecast. ABC signed on with Twitter's Amplify advertising program just a few days before the Oscars aired, becoming the last of the major networks to do so. Amplify is Twitter's second-screen ad partnership that lets broadcasters and brands push out promoted tweets while you're watching TV. If you're tweeting about a specific show or event, Twitter will show you relevant promoted tweets.
As part of the deal, Samsung sponsored 10 promoted tweets from @TheAcademy account that featured celebrity selfies taken in the award show's green room from a "Twitter Mirror." Twitter makes money from the advertisers who pay to promote the tweets--in this case, Samsung.
Even though Samsung paid for its brand and its phones to appear all over the place at the Oscars, as well as sponsoring backstage content on the Watch ABC app, it appears that stars prefer Samsung only when they're being paid. DeGeneres was tweeting from her Samsung phone when the cameras were on, but backstage switched back to her iPhone. Maybe she uses two phones. Or maybe the Samsung shots were just for promotion.
Either way, both Samsung and Twitter walked away winners.