Pandas on a Bus

Having something go viral is the goal of many an online content creator.

Yesterday, amidst the media interest in a pair of giant pandas arriving at Edinburgh Zoo, we thought it might be fun to put out a Photoshopped picture of the last stage of their journey…and within minutes, it was being tweeted like crazy. We’d gone viral.

So, what happened? And how do you create content which has a chance of doing the same?

  • Have the idea – this is the hardest part of the viral recipe. In order for content to stand a chance, it has to have something which makes it stand out from the crowd, being either:

    • funny – everyone likes a laugh
    • exciting – something that makes people go “wow
    • useful – content which people get something from



    For Pandas on a bus, we thought it might be amusing to picture the pandas taking a more normal mode of transport on the final leg of their journey…

    Of course, there’s no magic formula, but a good starting point is to look for something topical:

  • Be on trend – take a look at what’s trending on Twitter; or what people are talking about offline as well as on.

    For Pandas on a Bus, the UK media was filled with panda stories and pictures: and we put the image out there at the exact moment the animals were being transported from the airport to the zoo.

    Sometimes it’s more important to get your content out at the right time than it is to make sure it’s perfect…
  • Create the content – whilst we were hopeful Pandas on a Bus would be popular, we didn’t assume it would go viral.

    But in case it did, we made sure it was created from images we owned or which was in the public domain. A freely-available photo of the Airlink bus, a couple of photos we’d taken of pandas in Hong Kong, a quick bit of Photoshoppery, and it was ready to go…

Of course, there are some things we’d have done differently had we known how popular this image would have ended up being. For one, we may have spent a little more time on the Photoshop work…and we’d certainly have put an advert for Torchlight Digital Solutions on the side of the bus!


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