Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and share information. One of the most effective ways of conveying information in this digital age is through pictures. The impact of pictures is amplified when they go viral and become highly shared on social media. As a social media marketer, one of the keys to achieving success in this field is understanding what type of content will go viral and why.
There were 20 pictures that took social media by storm, and in this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at what they were – some represent movements, some just plain entertainment, what made them popular, and how you can use that key takeaway for your marketing strategies.
1. Greta Thunberg is a Time Traveler
Right: Greta Thunberg, a teen climate activist who is well-known for her action in supporting and being a spokesperson for climate change mitigation.
This image went viral due to the girl in the left-sided picture resembling the teen activist. It makes the Twitter users go crazy with wild conspiracy theories. Some even joked that Greta might be a time traveler from 120 years ago sent to save the world.
Why is this causing such a buzz? Well, besides Greta’s huge popularity, it is the unproven theory of time travel. Since we can’t say for sure if it’s true or not, it adds a touch of mystery to the whole thing. That’s exactly what’s pulling internet users in. People love a bit of ambiguity and intrigue.
2. Obama’s Victory
It is the Tweet of Obama containing a picture of him hugging his wife with the caption “four more years” after he won re-election for US president. It went viral with over 650,200 retweets and got a whopping 3.2 million likes on Facebook.
The heartfelt victory posts on Obama’s super-popular social media profiles were the result of a well-planned and executed campaign that lasted for months on these trendy platforms. This popularity of online interaction also indicates the political movement and the satisfaction and expectations of the US citizens.
3. The Dress – White and Gold VS. Black and Blue
The Tumblr user shared a picture of a dress and captioned it with “Guys please help me – is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the f**k out.”
It went viral across various online platforms, setting ablaze a multitude of discussions about its original colors and the captivating science fueling the debate. Witnessed and shared by millions of online enthusiasts, it has become a true internet sensation.
The reason behind its immense popularity lies in the question: What causes people to perceive different colors? Uncertainty has a way of captivating minds, and this intriguing mystery has certainly caught the attention of curious souls seeking to unravel its secrets.
4. The Oscar Selfie
Back in 2014, Ellen DeGeneres rocked the Twitter world with her mind-blowing selfie at the Oscars. She got Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Meryl Streep, and more all in one epic frame. This pic made history by racking up over 2 million retweets. Considering the reason behind this popularity, it’s not just a photo with famous people. It’s all about their massive fanbase, who retweeted it purely out of genuine interest and excitement. That’s when things went crazy, and everyone wanted to be part of this unforgettable cultural moment.
5. The Situation Room
The White House dropped a photo on its official Flickr page showing president Barack Obama, vice president Joe Biden, secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and other officials huddled up in the situation room. The image went viral with 1.6 million views in the first 38 hours it was on the site.
This photo became an absolute icon, showing the administration in action during one of its boldest and most intense national security moments. They were all totally hooked, watching what seemed like a live stream of the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan. It’s the kind of pic that could make history, leaving a mark just as powerful as the actual event itself.
With no doubt, viral images are mostly about memes these days. People are generally drawn to entertainment, especially when it’s funny stuff. So, if you’re looking to spice up your marketing content, here are some ideas and reference memes you can use to catch your audience’s attention.
6. Baby Yoda
This adorable character, baby Yoda made his debut on the Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. People recognize him as he looks like a little version of the famous Star Wars character.
In 2019 the first episode of The Mandalorian aired on Disney+. And at the end of that episode, there he was — a 50-year-old creature that looked just like an infant Yoda.
One Twitter user shared a screenshot of Baby Yoda, and that tweet went wild! In less than two days, it got over 9,000 likes and 1,800 retweets. The internet couldn’t resist the cuteness and all the love for little Yoda with those shining eyes. It’s an overload of adoration. Memes like these are just warm-hearted and bring people together.
7. Lenny Kravitz’s Giant Scarf
Back in 2012, there was this epic moment with Lenny Kravitz wearing a massive scarf while doing his thing on the streets of New York. His whole look with that huge scarf went crazy viral and sparked a bunch of memes all over the internet.
It is not exactly sure why it went so viral, but sometimes, it’s the quirkiest stuff that attracts people’s interest. That oversized scarf became a fashion statement for some, but others found it so funny and couldn’t quite get the fashion sense behind it.
That’s how memes work — they capture those unique and amusing moments that get everyone talking and sharing! And Lenny Kravitz’s big scarf moment was just one of those unforgettable internet sensations
8. Disaster Girl
Back in 2005, when Zoë was just 4 years old, her family went to check out a burning house in their Mebane, N.C. neighborhood. As firefighters had intentionally set it as a controlled fire, the atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed, with neighbors gathering around, and even the kids got to have some fun by taking turns holding the hose.
In the midst of it all, Zoë’s dad, who’s an amateur photographer, had a brilliant idea. He asked her to flash a smile while the flames engulfed the house behind her. And that’s when the ‘Disaster Girl’ meme was born.
With her hair all wild and a mischievous look in her eyes, she nailed the devilish smirk that has now become a shareable image all over social media. Surprisingly, the picture of Disaster Girl NFT was sold in 2021 earning around $473,000.
9. Distracted Boyfriend
This photo originated in 2015 taken by Antonio Guillem. It was posted in the iStock database, however, it was spread in 2017 later on.
It went viral because people made it a meme about a man choosing something allured, even though logic and facts say it’s not reasonable. It’s kind of like a joke about how people sometimes go for the wrong thing, even when it’s clear that it’s not the best choice. It’s all about that struggle between desire and reason.
10. Woman Yelling at the Cat
It started with a screencap from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, showing Taylor Armstrong and Kyle Richards in a heated moment. But here comes the funny part—right after that, they added a picture of a confused-looking cat sitting behind a dinner plate.
The whole format went crazy viral around mid-June 2019. There was a Twitter user who made a post with both images and wrote, “These photos together are making me lose it.” In just two months, that tweet got an incredible 78,900 retweets and a whopping 276,800 likes. Then things quickly spread by netizens to share humor and joy with their friends.
11. Success Kid
Success kid, also called I Hate Sandcastles. It started around 2008 when this adorable photo of a smug baby at the beach went viral on social media. People loved using it as their personal profile picture. Later on, people started photoshopping the pic and turning it into all sorts of memes.
The real name of the Success kid is Sammy Griner. This fame even helped his family out big time. When his dad needed a new kidney, they reached out online for funding, and the response was incredible. So maybe he’s called a successful kid for a reason.
12. Side Eyeing Chloe
On September 12, 2013, there was this video uploaded by YouTuber KAftC titled ‘Lily’s Disneyland Surprise… AGAIN.’ In the video, two sisters, Lily and Chloe, are on their way to school, and they get the news of a surprise trip to Disneyland. Lily, the older sister, is just overwhelmed with joy and starts crying tears of happiness. It’s such a heartwarming moment. But for Chloe, the younger sister, she’s caught on camera with this brief look of surprise and disturbed on her face. It is a mood of ‘wait, what just happened’ expression.
On November 5th, someone launched a blog called ‘Chloe Queen of Everything.’ It became the go-to spot to see a bunch of photoshopped images with Chloe’s face on various celebrities. BuzzFeed also took notice, on November 13, they reported on this whole parody phenomenon with an image compilation post titled ‘Side-eyeing Chloe is officially the patron saint of Tumblr.’ She became an internet legend overnight.
13. Bad Luck Brian
This is a classic meme story. Back on January 23, 2012, Ian Davies, who had been friends with Kyle since elementary school, uploaded this meme to Reddit. He used a yearbook photo of Kyle with the caption ‘Takes driving test… gets first DUI.’ It didn’t get much attention at first, with just a few upvotes.
However, things took a hilarious turn later that day. Another macro featuring Kyle was posted on Reddit, and this time the caption was ‘Tries to stealthily fart in class / sh*ts.’ That post became a hit, reaching the front page of the subreddit and raking in over 3,300 upvotes in under 2 months. On March 19th, someone reposted this hilarious instance on the humor site 9gag. It got a whopping 48,000 likes within just one day.
Since then, people have been using it to find humor in situations where the first incident leads to some seriously funny outcomes. It’s become a go-to for entertainment, and people just can’t get enough of it.
14. Left Exit 12 Off-Ramp
This meme is a total Photoshop mixture, and it all started with a YouTube video called ‘How to exit freeway like a boss’ by YouTuber Fredrik Sørlie. The video hit the internet on July 4, 2013, and it showed a car drifting into an off-ramp, even though there were no highway signs there. Still, it managed to rack up an impressive 97,000 views in just four and a half years.
The concept behind the Left exit 12 off-ramp is that the meme’s creator can photoshop something they don’t like on one highway sign and then put something they prefer on the others. And that the car in the image swerves right toward their preference.
It’s from Drake’s music video for his 2015 R&B single, Hotline Bling. In the video, the hip-hop artist busts out some slick dance moves and cool gestures. And one of those moves is where he holds his hand up to the side of his face while looking all disgusted.
This pic is like the ultimate reaction template. It’s perfect for people to show their disdain for one thing and then flip it around to show joy or approval for something else.
16. Spiderman Pointing
Spiderman Pointing at Spiderman originated around the 1960s in the Spiderman cartoon but later has been around since 2011. This meme is the perfect way to show when two things are just the same or when a similar situation is happening. It’s like a fun way to highlight those moments of uncanny resemblance.
On February 23, 2022, the meme was recreated when the three actors – Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland, reunited in Spider-Man: No Way Home. The movie’s Twitter account shared the post, and it got the fans all hyped up and excited.
17. First-World Problem
It is the tearful pic of James Van Der Beek from the iconic 90’s TV show Dawson’s Creek. It was named First World Problem, or some like to call it White Whine. These refer to the little frustrations and complaints that only privileged folks in wealthy countries can relate to. It’s like those everyday inconveniences that may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but they sure can bug life.
With this meme, people use it with a playful twist. It’s a comedic way to poke fun at ourselves and how we react to these minor issues. It’s all about adding a bit of humor and perspective to life’s little annoyances.
18. Shut Up and Take My Money
On July 1, 2010, Futurama aired its ‘Attack of the Killer app’ episode during season six. The deal is, there’s this company called Mom Industries, and they released the eyePhone — clearly a playful jab at the Apple iPhone.
Now, when the main guy Fry goes to buy one, the cashier warns him about reception and battery problems. But Fry’s so excited that he can’t contain himself. He interrupts the cashier, yelling “Shut up and take my money!” while waving a bunch of dollar bills.
And that’s how this iconic meme was born. People just love using it to show their eagerness for something they really want.
19. Sad Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves has smashed the internet. The actor had a supporting role in Randall Park and Ali Wong’s Netflix rom-com, Always Be My Maybe, and we all know he’s killing it as John Wick. Keanu’s turned into everyone’s favorite internet boyfriend.
But what really set the internet on fire was a paparazzi pic from May 2010. He was caught looking a bit down while munching on a sandwich. It became a super shareable pic online. Buzzfeed user memecore even wrote an article called ‘10 Best Sad Keanu Images’ on June 8, 2010, and it went viral, hitting the top 10 list of the day. The DailyWhat also jumped on the trend and followed up on the whole Sad Keanu phenomenon.
For the rest of June, photoshopped images of Sad Keanu spread like wildfire across social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr blogs.
20. Homer Back Into the Bush
An episode of The Simpsons called Homer Loves Flanders aired in the US. In one scene, Homer comes out of the bushes and surprises his neighbors, inviting them to hang out. But when they say no, he does this hilarious thing where he backs right back into the bushes and disappears. It’s such a classic moment.
Fast forward to December 8th, 2010, and the website GIF Garage posted Homer’s bush movement as a reaction GIF. From then it was spread by internet users as it is just perfect for expressing those relatable reactions in a fun and shareable way.
Get Inspired with Viral Pics
Viral pictures have the power to shape people’s minds, influence behavior, create a sense of community, and facilitate communication between ones to ones, in marketing cases – brands and consumers. As a social media marketer, it is crucial to understand how viral pictures work and how you can use them to achieve your marketing goals. Remember to create visually appealing and consistent content that aligns with your brand messaging and values. With these tips in mind, you can use viral pictures to create a powerful marketing strategy that resonates with your audience.
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