Yes, it’s an egg – but not just any egg. It’s an internet famous, record-breaking egg. Within 10 days of appearing on Instagram earlier this year, the now-famous egg photo had been liked by 18 million users around the world. The post now has more than 53.1 million likes, setting a new world record as the most-liked post on Instagram.
Young Post spoke to the three masterminds behind the viral hit via Google Hangout, in their only interview with an Asia-based publication to date, about the secret ingredient in their recipe for social media success, and how they’re putting their fame to good use.
On an uneventful evening in January, Chris Godfrey, a 29-year-old Londoner and former advertising creative, came up with the idea of beating Kylie Jenner’s Instagram record. The celebrity influencer’s photo of her newborn daughter Stormi Webster was the most-liked photo on the platform – that is, until an egg named Eugene dethroned it.
“One day, I just thought to myself: Why not create a new Instagram account and try to beat the record with something as simple as an egg?” says Godfrey.
The experiment was an instant hit. Godfrey then decided to recruit 26-year-old Alissa Khan-Whelan, a London art school graduate, and 29-year-old freelance graphic designer C. J. Brown. Together, they make up the Egg Gang.
But what made Eugene the Egg an overnight success?
“We’ve analysed what happened – all the elements just created the perfect potion” says Khan-Whelan. “An egg is universal, and January is usually a mundane month of the year, with people just coming back from the holidays. It just ticked all of these boxes.”
Godfrey believes that asking users for input was crucial. “In the early days, I told everyone on Instagram that Eugene needed a face, and thousands of answers started pouring in,” he says.
“People liked that we gave them a challenge, and we were instructing them to re-share the post with friends and family as if we were a big marketing team,” Khan-Whelan explains.
Before the Egg Gang revealed themselves to the public, there were rumours that a celebrity or a large marketing team was behind the post.
“We always get asked if there’s a bigger team behind it – but right now it’s only three people and we can confirm that,” Brown says, with a hint of amusement in his voice.
We decided to put the Egg Gang’s viral-making skills to the test by asking them to come up with a marketing plan for our very own Young Post mascot, Dennis Goodboy, to help him become an internet sensation.
“Take a really nice, well-lit picture of Dennis, without much context around him, and try to show his personality through the picture,” says Khan-Whelan. “Then, gradually start taking pictures of him and his everyday life.”
“Turn him into a character, figure out his likes and dislikes, his tone of voice, how he talks to his audience, and talk to people on a level they can resonate with,” Brown adds.
Since Eugene made his Instagram debut, the Egg Gang has posted a new series of photos which show him gradually starting to crack. These eventually led to a short video, in which Eugene “broke his silence” and cracked open for the very first time.
In the 30-second video, which turned out to be part of a campaign for Mental Health America, an animated version of Eugene tells followers: “Recently I’ve started to crack, the pressure of social media is getting to me,” he says.
“If you’re struggling too, talk to someone.”
While Eugene could’ve become an advocate for any cause, the team thought it was important to shine a light on mental health, as it is something that still isn’t talked about enough.
“Everyday life is intertwined with mental health, so we wanted to put our platform to good use,” says Godfrey.
“We had the perfect opportunity to get this message across to those who are scrolling through Instagram posts, and remind people that it’s okay to not feel okay,” says Khan-Whelan.
As for what lies ahead in Eugene’s future, Khan-Whelan says a world of possibilities and opportunities await him.
“It would be good to watch his life unfold, with him cracking now and then but then going back to his full, original self again – that’s certainly one way to move forward.”
The Egg Gang’s five golden rules for social media success
- Make people feel like they are part of what you’re doing, and set a common goal for them.
- Make your ideas as simple as possible.
- Be aware of your tone of voice, and do everything with your target audience in mind – ours is 18 million people!
- Believe in what you’re doing. We believed in what we were doing and worked hard for it, which is why it’s worked so far.
- Engagement is important. We have worked around the clock, getting three to four hours of sleep a night, to respond to comments and messages – and people have loved it.