Going viral on Instagram when you least expect it
Last Updated on 24th July 2020
I have a fairly modest Instagram account at biggsytravels with 1,220 followers but what was the end result when one of my images started going viral? Well semi-viral at least! I must add this was a pretty rare event and it certainly hasn’t repeated itself since. Either way I owe my one-off moment of fame to Frank from Germany and his “shoe bike”.
What image started “going viral”?
The event was the RideLondon Freewheel bike ride. The time was 30th July 2016 and the place was along The Strand in central London. I was completing a slow loop of the 8 mile car-free course when I glanced to my right and saw Frank on his strange-looking bicycle. Continental had built a custom machine with six Adidas running shoes on each wheel.
One of its employees (who I subsequently found out to be called Frank) was giving it a shaky test run around the course. I was riding a Strida bike which aren’t the steadiest of bikes themselves, and I only had an iPhone to hand, but my balance was sufficient to rattle off a few photos as well as shoot a 25 second long video.
When did it start going viral?
So it was an enjoyable day out. I posted the “shoe bike” photo later that evening … and then that was that. But then it slowly began. Admittedly it was two months later in September when travel.enjoy.inspire (with 75k+ followers) re-posted my image, crediting me in the now standard way of [camera icon]: @biggsytravels. I thought – “That’s nice” and thought nothing more of it. A few days later came another re-post. This time from someone with just 200 followers, but still quite nice of them all the same. It was only when worldofartists re-posted with 2m followers that I thought “Now this IS nice – I wander what effect it will have?”
Interestingly none of the many comments belonging to these bigger Instagram accounts were aimed in my direction. They were mostly people saying “So cool” and “Wow cute” but what did happen is my followers number quickly went from a lowly 400 up to over 1,000. Maybe these new followers were expecting more of the same? Now at the same time may I add, absolutely nothing was happening on Twitter with either my image or my video post. It just goes to show how virality can be all on one platform and not exist at all on any other.
Now a friend of mine, Paperboyo, certainly knows a thing or two about going viral. Some of his first cut-out photographs of The London Eye and Big Ben featured in mainstream British newspapers and then spread like wildfire across Instagram as a result. Check out his work!
And the end result?
At the last count the image had had 27 re-posts, totalling 208k likes with 3,615 comments. Far and above the 369 likes and 38 comments for my original picture at ’biggsytravels’.
Nothing has been gone viral since, and anyway I haven’t tried to do any specific to make it happen again. I’ve simply been trying to take nice photos to document where I’ve been and what I’m up to. Could I repeat this? Probably not 🙂 It was simply being in the right place at the right time, and with nobody else snapping him to get in there first! 😉
My separate video didn’t do too bad either. 22,130 views and 1,764 likes on Instagram when I last checked. In fact it was the video that actually lead to me receiving some money thanks to the guys at Jukin Media. They got in touch via Instagram and asked if they could represent and present my video to buyers around the world. People who are searching Jukin’s licensing platform on a daily basis to discover great videos content to use through their own channels. So I signed up, uploaded the full, un-edited video … and to date … I’ve had it licensed out on two occasions giving me a welcome three figure reward. Enough to easily pay for my blog’s domain, hosting and back-ups for the next 3 years. Hopefully I’ll get lucky and be in the right place at the right time to record another in-demand video in the not too distant future!
Have any of your images gone viral when you least expected it? Are you actually planning on going viral with something?
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About the author
Unique travel experiences written by UK based travel writer Steve Biggs