That World Record Selfie

Ellen's world record selfie tweet

The world record selfie. We all want to be a part of it.

Marketing Online the NEW way.

The 86th Annual Academy Awards was watched by 43.0 million viewers. Reports say this is a 10 year high for the show. So here’s my take on how, from a marketing, group psychology, social media understanding perspective, the world record selfie was destined to happen on this night.

For those of you in the know, there has been an algorithm available to work out what numbers you would need to make something go viral.

For the math-minded out there, it looks like this:

X(invited friends per person)*Y%(acceptance rate)  = viral coefficient

and it works like this:

  • If the coefficient is higher than 1.0, growth is rising (> 1 for 1).
  • If it’s less than 1.0, it’s growth is slowing (< 1 for 1).
  • If the viral coefficient is 1.0, the growth is linear (1 for 1).

And this is where I stop calculating. It would be reasonable to predict that a photograph (which content has a net worth of about $550 million) would have mass appeal. The standard way this normally plays out looks like the following: ‘star with millions of followers takes photograph, fans share photograph, photograph becomes famous’. I want to add something to this.

Good Marketing. It’s a Tribal thing.

Tribes. If you haven’t already read it, I strongly advise you do. The book Tribes by Seth Godin breaks down in detail how we look for people and tribes to follow and takes from the leaders’ perspective how you can turn this into business opportunities. I don’t claim this thought to be entirely original but my opinion on this world record tweet is that it goes well beyond simple mathematics of social media. At some point following the initial ten thousand or so retweets, the socially conscious realise that retweeting this image allows them to become part of a group, a piece of history. The metric must exist somewhere but my gut and experience tells me that the vast majority of these retweeting the picture didn’t view the actual picture until after they had retweeted it. Why? Because it was more important to be part of the trend than to appreciate the media’s composition. We ourselves retweeted the picture as we, too, want to be part of this Oscar Selfie Tweet.

This is what makes it tribal. This is what makes it viral.

Fame By Association

What can businesses learn from this? Well, it shows the importance of not always broadcasting your story from the perspective of a product launch to the release of a new service or upgrade. This instead offers up great rewards from allowing your customers or followers or users to become part of the story, giving them a piece of the publicity, ensuring that not only do they relate to what you are doing, they will also be listening the next time you have something to say. In social media, there are far too many companies using it as a soap box to promote and hard sell their products. The guys over at Samsung will forever be grateful to Bradley Cooper for choosing to use their device to take the most retweeted photo in history.