A picture of a brown speckled egg is officially more popular than every other picture ever posted to Instagram.
It’s the internet in 2019, so while that’s sad, it’s not exactly shocking. What is at least kinda shocking is that the egg not only came out of nowhere — the photo was posted just 10 days ago — but the Instagram account that posted the egg picture, @world_record_egg, inexplicably has 4.5 million followers despite posting just this one — yes one — photo.
That’s gotta be worth something, right?
The account’s owner is still anonymous, but whoever it is, they appear to be sitting on a gold mine. It seems possible, if not likely, that @world_record_egg will sell a sponsored post to a brand hoping to ride the bizarre popularity wave that the egg has created over the past 24 hours to get in front of the account’s 4.5 million followers.
“If I were them, my next post would be an ad,” said Darren Lachtman, who sold his social media talent agency called Niche to Twitter in 2015 before starting a content company called Brat. “They hit the lottery and they got a billboard in Times Square for free on Instagram. What are they going to do with it?”
Selling sponsored or branded content is the main way that internet A-listers with massive social followings, like Kylie Jenner — the member of the Kardashian clan whose most-liked Instagram post was dethroned this weekend by the egg — make a killing online. Influencer accounts with the same general audience size as the Instagram egg can make tens of thousands of dollars for a single post, and much more if they sign on for a series of posts or a full campaign.
Lachtman thinks @world_record_egg could rake in as much as $250,000 to run a single ad to all of its followers if it decides to sell out. Others, like Sean Spielberg at Points North Group, an influencer marketing analytics company, think it could be even more.
“I think [they could sell an ad for] close to a million dollars,” Spielberg said, adding that normal rules around how much an influencer can usually charge per follower doesn’t apply to a viral sensation like the Instagram Egg. “[The rules] break down in an example like this where the account has over four million followers, but it’s clearly reached many, many multiples of that many people.”
So what will @world_record_egg do? No one replied to an email listed on the account’s profile, but whoever owns the account did post a message to its Instagram Story late Sunday. “It doesn’t end here though, we’re only just getting started,” the message read. The next post included a promise that egg-themed “merch” is on the way.
That quick jump to monetize, plus the fact that the account has already adopted and pushed a few unique hashtags, makes the folks at CreatorIQ, a startup that creates software for managing influencer marketing campaigns, think the account’s owner may have some previous marketing experience. If that’s the case, maybe the Instagram Egg won’t sell out with a single splashy ad after all.
“I’m not saying there’s a feature film deal out of it or anything,” said Tim Sovay, CreatorIQ’s COO, “but I think there’s a real potential for these guys to create sub-brands or similar brands around this opportunity.”
Not everyone believes the Instagram Egg can cash in quite so easily, including Liz Gottbrecht, the VP of marketing at an influencer marketing platform called Mavrck.
“By Mavrck’s definition of influence — which is based on a combination of an influencer’s engagement rate, follower count, content aesthetic, brand safety, and incentive cost — as long as this account remains anonymous, it has no value,” she said in an emailed statement. “This isn’t an influencer play; it’s just a social hack.”
We should find out soon whether or not there’s money to be made. The internet moves on. It’s likely that the Instagram Egg will be gone as quickly as it came.
“The next three days are their time to shine,” Lachtman said. “I would look at it like diminishing returns every minute that goes by on this.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.