cork penguin hits reddit frontpage & goes viral

socially awkward penguin IRL

Yesterday i decided to submit that penguin video i took to reddit. Boy what a decision that was… within hours, it ended up on the frontpage, breaking in to the top 10 most popular links and the stats went through the roof…

What a difference a title makes

Only after submitting the link did i realise someone had already posted the video a week earlier under the title ‘forever alone penguin’… however it had no votes /comments (at the time i submitted my link).

That begs the question can a simple title /caption be the difference between reddit frontpage and no upvotes at all? It’s hard to believe but that’s certainly what it looks like. I added the title “socially awkward penguin (literally)” to the video having done a bit of research on my memes.

I found reddit was a sucker for ‘socially awkward penguin‘ memes, so i figured the video was perfect for the reddit community. I added the word ‘literally’ because most of the penguin memes are simply images with captions on them – therefore metaphors (someone was paying attention in english class). I also feel it makes you double take at the title if you see the word ‘literally’ after it… some people have been questioning why the ‘literal’ bit, so that’s why… that simple thought process and wording appears to have made all the difference.

I submitted it yesterday afternoon, checked back 10 minutes later expecting a comment or a few upvotes and nothing… it wasn’t that big of a surprise considering i’d now discovered the same link the week before had zero activity, so i kind of just forgot about it all…

I then started getting a series of auto emails from youtube on my iphone (i get an email everytime someone leaves a comment on any of my youtube videos). I was out for about an hour and came back to “52 unread emails”, mostly all youtube comments, some subscriptions to my channel & friend requests. Definitely a “WTF?” moment.

Pre Reddit / Post Reddit

The video had about 83,000 views before i submitted it to reddit. It had (roughly) about 50 likes (1 person had the nerve to dislike it!).

Within hours of appearing on the reddit homepage, the video had over 400 likes but the views stayed at around 83,000 (youtube only update their ‘views’ stats a few times a day). So i knew the view count was about to explode, i just didn’t know by how much…


Even early this morning the view count was still stuck at 83,000, but eventually it rose to over 189,000 on my own stats dashboard, meaning traffic doubled in 24 hours, all (or largely) thanks to reddit. It now has over 1,000 likes on youtube, over 200 comments and 650 favourites.


It’s claimed 11 youtube honors so far;

penguin video stats

On reddit, the video has over 4,500 upvotes, 280 comments.


It became quite clear to me that once the video hit reddit frontpage, i was losing the ability to keep up with stats and track where it was mentioned.


facebook-socially awkward

It was all over twitter, all over facebook, forums, blogs and a quick google search revealed it was international…

viral video

Up until then it hadn’t done too badly at all. Irish news site ‘the journal’ ran an article on it and the zoo where the video was taken (Fota wildlife park) also facebook’d, tweeted & blogged about it. For some reason it became particularly popular in Poland and that’s where about half of the 80,000 views or so came from up until i posted it on reddit yesterday.

I said in a previous post the target was 100,000 views and if we could reach that anything was possible… well, it’s now gone truly viral and this little guy, although he doesn’t know it, is now an internet superstar!

Become a partner! oh wait, no i can’t because you banned me…

I got a few offers & emails / messages from people telling me “we’d think your video would go great here, please submit it bla bla…” but i’m snookered because icanhascheezburger now have the rights to the video, i can only use it for personal stuff & keep it on my own youtube channel. So i ignored most of those messages although it’s always flattering to have people admire / chase your work. Then i get an email from youtube themselves asking me to apply for their partnership programme.

youtube partner

If we go way back in time to about 2007, my adsense account was disabled and despite appeals & questioning, Google wouldn’t say why and basically cut me off. I’ve emailed them about once a year since, asking them to reconsider or at least explain why they disabled my account but i never get any replies.

It’s one of the reasons why i’d be very wary of relying on them to monetize a site again because they can just cut you off without explaining why, in an instant. As i pointed out before, no sign of them disabling my adwords account, which i’ve used the odd time before & after my adsense account was disabled. Strange…

The Future

Fresh off the reddit frontpage, i’d imagine we’re still surfing on the wave, just not on the crest of it. The view count should hit 200,000 over the next week and after that we start talking serious numbers… fractions of millions 🙂 It’s now by far and away the most viral activity i’ve ever created / captured so i’ll continue to keep a close eye on it and learn /share as much as i can on the stats… despite what my ‘rinse. wash. repeat‘ post might suggest, you can never replicate stuff like this and should never try to replicate it, but i can learn a great deal from it and already have.

My reddit account isn’t new (i’ve been signed up a couple of years), but i have very little influence / karma in the reddit community. I visit the site almost daily lurking in the background, so i know the reddit culture but i rarely comment / submit stuff. From that point of view, it’s encouraging to know that anybody / anything can hit the reddit frontpage.

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