Selfies and billions: the numbers and tweets behind the Oscars

Twitter Ellen Oscars

It was an event watched by billions around the world and one which saw Ellen DeGeneres steal Barack Obama’s spot in the Twitter hall of fame with the most retweeted tweet ever, but there’s more to the Academy Awards than statues and celebs. As part of its partnership with ratings company Nielsen, Twitter’s released a fresh batch of statistics about the awards, which give some insight into how big the conversation really was — and into its own plans to prove its worth as a second screen companion.

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For the first time, Twitter is now reporting the number of impressions that tweets about an event gained. Previously, it’s stuck to disclosing the number of tweets posted about a topic, not the number of times those tweets were seen. It’s a small distinction, but it’s one which is more valuable for advertisers, and in line with Twitter’s plans to boost its role in conversations around live events and TV shows.

In this case, the Oscars were tweeted about 19.1-million times from 5pm local time the day of the event until 5am the day after. Those 19.1-million tweets in turn generated a massive 3.3-billion (yes, that’s a ‘b’) impressions. But that’s not all Twitter gleaned from its data crunching.

Nearly as many people saw tweets about the Oscars as actually watched the Oscars. The day may be coming when we’re all going to skip watching the TV and instead just read the live tweets, but it’s not here yet. While more than 37-million people saw Oscars-related tweets on Twitter’s website, desktop and mobile apps, early estimates suggest that some 43-million people (in the US at least) watched the show on TV.

Users lurk more than actively tweet. Interestingly, all those 19.1-million tweets were posted by just 5-million users. That means that the majority of the 37-million people who saw the tweets didn’t post tweets themselves, but also that that relatively small group of users was quite active, posting an average of almost 4 tweets each on the night.

Ellen’s celeb selfie was seen by more than 32.8-million users. The now famous shot of a group of mega celebs holds the title for most retweets (it’s now passed the 3-million mark) and all those shares have helped it be seen more than 26-million times by 8.1-million users across Twitter’s mobile and desktop apps and site. Because of the record-breaking nature of the tweet, it understandably gained some media attention, and has been embedded on more than 13 711 web pages to date. Those embedded tweets have been seen 6.8-million times, leading to a combined total exposure of 32.8-million.

According to Twitter’s Head Data Scientist, Michael Fleischman, the fact that “Twitter is a powerful companion to live events, particularly live television broadcasts, is fortuitous. The product was born on mobile, the vast majority of the tweets that are shared are public, and information flows in real time.” Of course, stats like that also help it prove its worth as the social media platform event organisers should target going forward.

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