Imagine, just for a moment that you could get 42 people to click ‘like’ against a simple pack shot of a bottle of your wine on Instagram. Or maybe a more ambitious 4,200. That would be something to feel quite good about, I imagine, even for an extablished brand. Ten times that number would be fairly extraordinary, while 4.2 million would be, well, unthinkable.
So how do we all feel about the over 42 million likes (at time of writing) that a single image has just clocked up?
Even in the frequently-hyped world of social media, there has been a lot of suprise at the news that more than the equivalent of the combined population of Belgium, Holland and Sweden had all taken the time to indicate their approval of a banal image of a brown egg. Admittedly, it didn’t require a lot of effort on their part, but, even at, say, just five seconds each, it still adds up to nearly 25 days of human activity.
So, why did they all do it? Because, it seems, they were asked to do so by the anonymous Instagrammer behind the initiative. To be precise, they were invited to help claim a place in the next Guinness Book of Records: the instagram ‘handle’ created for this initiative says it all: @worldrecordegg. The previous holder of this metaphorical trophy was Keeping Up With the Kardashians star Kylie Jenner with 18m for a picture of her newborn baby. Jenner responded to her toppling from the podium by posting an image of her smashing an egg on the ground to her 124m followers – and gaining the kind of online and offline media attention that will help to increase that number.
Behind these mind-boggling numbers lie some facts to which anyone in any kind of business today needs to give some thought.
First, and most obviously, now is the time for any ostriches to extract their heads from the sand. I meet a surprising number of professionals, many under the age of 50, who still seem to imagine that social media is a fad that is going to blow over. This makes as much sense as suggesting that Spotify is about to be replaced by a revival of vinyl. (The traditional LP is definitely making a comeback, but not that much of a comeback).
Second, there is the professionalism that is now growing up within and behind all types of social media. A business somewhere is almost certainly being pitched today by the man or woman – I’m going to call them the ‘egghead’ – who used this campaign to show off their skills at attracting online interest.
Next, there is the potential value of including some kind of call to action into various forms of communication. The old days of advertising, when one attempted to plant seeds in potential customers’ brains, and hoped they would take root, are over. Today, advertisers are more like doctors tapping various parts of the body to see the strength and manner of the reactions they get. The currency for which they are hungry now is data, and the egghead knows who responded to the picture, where and when - and how they found out about it.
Finally, and most importantly, there is the transcendence of the image. Of course for as long as human beings talk and listen to each other, and read text, we are always going to need great copywriters. Indeed as attention spans shrink, their value is almost certainly going to grow, as brand owners cast around for slogans as strong as ‘Build a wall’ and “Take back control’.
But we also live in an increasingly visual culture. A picture really is worth a thousand words now that anyone can create and publish one within seconds using the phone in their pocket. And, for brand owners, that matters.
Most obviously, Instagram has helped to boost sales of rosé and blue wine, and a wide range of spirits thanks to the cocktails in which they are used. Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot each have audiences of nearly half a million on the platform. Even for those with – far – smaller numbers, Instagram posts can be revealing fascinating information about where people are drinking particular wines – andwhen. Another image-based online platform, Pinterest, has even published a 2019 Seasonal Insights guide that lists the key moments of the year when particular search terms are used by people ‘pinning’ pictures.
This year’s egg will soon almost certainly lose its trophy to an image of something else that gets even more likes. And, who knows, that picture might conceivably be of a glass or bottle of wine. Anything’s possible, nowadays.