I was a good dad on Sunday and took my daughter back to Nottingham University where she is doing her first year of an English degree.
Not long after we’d got on the M1 at junction 5 – Aylesbury, Watford, M25 (West), A41 for any M1 geeks out there – she told me about this new, world-record attempt on Instagram that she’d heard about the previous day.
Its aim was to get as many people as possible to like a photo of an egg and to break the world record for the most amount of likes, previously held by Kylie Jenner (at 17 or so million likes).
As of the Saturday morning, when she had first spotted this page, the egg had had about a million likes.
At junction 6 – St Albans, Harlow, M25 (East), A405 – she checked again and there were 4 million.
When we got off the motorway at junction 24 – Nottingham South/Centre A453 – the total had gone past 5.4 million.
When I came back home in the evening after the 226-mile round trip, 8 million plus.
By today, three days later, 45+ million!! The egg has become the most rapidly viral ‘thing' in history.
The Big Idea
“Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram… we got this” kicks off the comments under a stock picture of a pretty ordinary looking brown speckled egg, from an account with the name of world_record_egg from a group calling themselves Egg Gang.
It is the one and only post on the account. And we don’t know who is behind it or why. There are several rumours doing the rounds, which is adding to the mystery and of course the narrative, further boosting the viral effect. The world_record_egg has gone everywhere.
What They Did
The beauty of the idea is that the people behind it didn’t really do anything! It was something that just seemed to capture the hearts and minds of Instagrammers.
Part of the appeal was the humour of the idea.
It reminded me a little bit of the crowd sourced naming campaign run by the National Environment Research Council which ended up with Boaty McBoatface becoming the people’s choice for the name of the new research vessel. world_record_egg is in a similar vein.
The other element of appeal comes because there is also probably a bit of an anti-celebrity influencer revolt going on too. It certainly puts the so-called high-profile social media personalities in their place to get ‘beaten’ by an egg. The idea captured that zeitgeist nicely.
As the likes went from 10 to 20 to 30 million, and with lots of un-official copycats appearing, Instagram verified world_record_egg with a blue tick.
Cue more talkability. And an official Egg Gang store popped up offering T-shirts with proceeds from sales going to a different charity each day.
I love the simplicity of this idea. Sometimes the best ideas are the most simple ones.
Perhaps more interestingly though, the Egg Gang scored a rare victory for the unpaid viral campaign.
These days, the conventional wisdom is that organic reach can only get you so far. The social networks have made a lot of their revenue making sure that you needed paid media spend to support any content to make it successful.
Indeed, they have talked this up as obviously they would, it is how they make a big chunk of their money. Maybe this one solo post has left Instagram et al with a bit of egg on their face in this respect.
I’m sure in time we’ll get to find out who was behind this. If it was an agency then I’m impressed and I would have thought they will be getting a lot of new business enquiries from brands who want their own social media meme sensation for a virtually zero budget.
If it is just an individual then he or she would be warmly welcomed by most firms in the social, digital and marketing space.
Oh, and by the way, in the hour or so it took me to write this piece, the number of likes went up by 600,000 and counting...
I give this 4.5 (the same amount of time I like for my nice runny boiled egg).