The 4 Unforgettable Oscar 2011 Web Moments

Didn't turn your TV on last night but still caught all of the 83rd Academy Awards? Welcome to the future of major television events. From Twitter to apps to the Web, social media sites certainly kept viewers rapt and, perhaps, away from their TV sets. So here are our top four ways social media stole the show.

Didn’t turn your TV on Sunday night but still caught all of the 83rd Academy Awards? Welcome to the future of major television events. From Twitter to apps to the Web, social media sites certainly kept viewers rapt and, perhaps, away from their TV sets. So here are our top four ways social media stole the show.

Ratings for television’s largest annual event, after the Super Bowl, were down 10 percent this year, but where television, and the show’s hosts failed, social media soared. Even the show’s stars themselves made it social media’s year, from show host James France opening the show by brandishing his cell phone, to presenter Justin Timberlake‘s remark that, “I’m sure they make an app for that,” referencing a set change, and back to Mr. Franco in drag joking, “I just got a text message from Charlie Sheen.”

The envelope please…

James Franco on Twitter – Franco may be forgiven, he hopes, for his widely panned hosting abilities if critics consider all the social networking he was doing off-screen, and off-stage. He joined Twitter (@jamesfranco) just this month but became the first Oscars host to live-tweet the show, including behind-the-scenes moments like a video he took while walking out on stage. Franco also kept his more than 200,000 followers entertained before the show with previews of the night, including clip of himself performing a song from Burlesque as well as a short video of himself and co-host Anne Hathaway rehearsing a scene from Grease.

Oscar.com – It was, ironically, the network, ABC, that broadcast the Oscars on television that also delivered, arguably, the best off-screen viewing site. ABC’s companion Web site (Oscar.com) offered viewers behind-the-scenes video streams so they could continue watching the winners celebrating backstage on the “thank you” cam and the “winners’ walk cam.” The tool delivered an insider’s look at the night, from Aaron Sorkin and Christian Bale sprinting out of the theater, to close-ups of stars forced to stay in their seats and as others accepted their awards. There was also an official Oscars-ABC iPad app, for a small fee, where you could watch even more behind-the-scenes cameras live with the show. ABC itself said video viewing online at Oscar.com and through the Oscar Backstage Pass App surged by 29 percent to more than three million views.

GetGlue.com – The location-based social network was the first to jump on the Oscar trail with an integration on the Oscar.com site that resulted in 30,000 check-ins before the show was over. After the first hour, GetGlue reported that 1/12th of all tweets about the Oscars were people checking in via GetGlue. As we reported, the partnership marked the first time a major event actually integrated check-ins directly into their own website, and follows a similar promotion the site ran with CBS for the Grammy’s earlier this year.

Twitter.com – The Twitter dashboard at E! Online’s “Live from the Red Carpet” reported the social site peaked just after the Oscars’ open with 10,000 tweets/minute, or 1.8 million overall. (Twitter has yet to issue the official count.) Sites like the Washingtonpost.com and MTV.com used the site to crowdsource with hashtags like #oscarspotting and @mtvnews#oscars, while celebs used it to congratulate, or take shots at, their, um, friends and colleagues. Mostly though, the site, along with Facebook, showed the quickening end of the “water cooler” era of TV watching. With the real time, rapid-fire delivery and response of social media, if you’re not in the discussion live, you’re too late the next day.

Have any favorite social media moments we missed? Tell us in the comments below.