The most popular image on Instagram

On 4th January 2019, an anonymous group posted a picture of an egg with the intention of surpassing the most popular Instagram post of all time. The previous record was held by a picture of Kylie Jenner’s baby.

 

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stormi webster 👼🏽

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Ten days later, on January 14th, world_record_egg’s first and only picture reached 18.2 million likes to catapult it into first place. By the time of the writing, the Egg had harnessed +33 million likes and climbing.

Kylie Jenner noticed the new kid in town…

 

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Take that little egg

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Does this represent anything significant?

Of course it’s just another viral post, but it’s a clear indication of the still rising popularity of Instagram. We know from previous data and interviews that Instagram is still growing. Huge viral posts like this (regardless of the topic) are inevitable when engagement is increasing, and an indication that Instagram’s usage is in good health.

In terms of being indicative of a trend, surprisingly there is some precedent. From the Instagram accounts that simply post the exact same picture every day, to the odd but understandable phenomenon of people pretending to post sponsored posts, to make them seem like more legitimate influencers. Let’s not forget also the boy on Twitter who wanted (and got) free nuggets by getting retweeted a lot (he never did reach 18 million), along with several incidences of an individual’s request triggering a wave of support from influential public figures. These phenomena can be baffling, but share a similar principle which is one of gaming or breaking the system. The world record egg post on instagram is almost the perfect distillation of this idea. The content is irrelevant, the singular goal was to achieve a record for no other apparent sake than achieving it.

The other idea the egg post demonstrates is the ability of social platforms to generate huge co-operation as part of a cultural movement. If everyone else is getting swept along engaging with a post, the fear of missing out perhaps drives people to join in, however banal the action involved. These cultural micro-touchpoints also apparently unite everyone regardless of political persuasion. So perhaps this example of a viral post does represent something deeper.

But of course, it’s still just an egg.

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