What We Can Learn From Ed Balls Day About Social Trends

Jennifer Faughnan | April 28th 2016

It’s here again! Today the world celebrates the fifth anniversary of the day former Labour MP Ed Balls tweeted his own name by mistake. The day that confuses yet delights not just the nation, but the world. Today is Ed Balls Day.


Five years ago he was shopping in a supermarket when an assistant urged him to search for an article written about him on twitter. Alas, he accidentally tweeted his name instead. Unaware that a tweet could be deleted, he’s gone down in internet history, with April 28th now forever known as ‘Ed Balls Day’.

Despite losing his seat last year, #EdBallsDay is still going strong. With news outlets such as the BBC and the Mirror updating the nation on the events throughout the day, we thought we’d get involved by sharing with you how you can also balls up your social campaigns.

‘Ballsing’ Up Your Campaigns: Viral Content

When we are creating content, we all like to imagine it going viral. Thousands, nay, MILLIONS will love it so much they will share it with everyone immediately. Sadly, this is rarely the case (unless you’re Ed Balls).

The internet is ever growing and ever changing. Content may as well be thrown to the wind for all the good it will do your campaign if it’s not done properly.

Here are our top tips to creating Viral Content:

  1. Provoke Emotion

Nothing gets shared as quickly as something that makes us feel something. Ideally try to elicit positive emotions, such as joy, awe, surprise and particularly humour. Sometimes it may be appropriate to target negative emotions, such as anger, though care needs to be taken to ensure it is done correctly.

  1. Create a video or an image

People engage more with multimedia; text is not enough to go viral.

  1. Create content that is relevant to your audience

If it is relevant and useful to their lives, they are more likely to share it.

  1. Positive Content

Positive content is better received than negative content.

Even the best content rarely goes viral as one would hope. So how did Ed Balls’ mistake go viral? It was a humorous mistake, enough people saw it and shared it, and perhaps even his name added to the hilarity that caused this to become an internet sensation.

How to make #EdBallsDay work for your brand

Another way to get your content, or your product, out there is to jump in on a trending topic. It is a great way for a brand to get their message to a new demographic and to boost engagement.

Take these examples of well-known brands trend jacking Ed Balls Day:


People will share and engage with these, not because they’re interested in food balls or dough balls, but because they find the content, and the fact that a well known brand is jumping in on Ed Balls Day, funny.


It’s important to make sure that the trend in question does not stray too far from, or even damage, a brand’s image.

Take House of Fraser for example. They launched their highly ridiculed #emojinal campaign earlier this year in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience.

It backfired, with some even going so far as to say that it ruined the brand:


Even more important that the relevancy of the trend you’re jumping in on, is researching what the trend is actually about. A hashtag could seem innocent and relevant, but could easily have another meaning, and not researching what a hashtag is actually about could have dire consequences.

Take a look at DiGiorno’s incredible faux pas a few years ago, when they inappropriately jumped in on the #WhyIStayed hashtag, ignorant of the fact that it was about domestic violence.


They deleted the tweet quickly, but the backlash was immediate. People were hurt and angry, taking it as an insult. The social team were no doubt horrified by their mistake, but the damage had been done.

Mistakes don’t have to ruin your brand

How you handle social backlash can make or break a brand. In DiGiorno Pizza’s case, they responded to every tweet criticising them individually, apologising profusely. It didn’t undo what they had done, but it definitely didn’t hurt.

Even though Ed Balls’ initial tweet was a mistake, he made the most of it. He had few options, the most obvious:

  1. Delete the tweet

And that would have been that. Though apparently he didn’t know you could delete a tweet, which brings us to option 2:

  1. React petulantly and resist becoming an internet sensation

Which could have resulted in people slating/mocking him maliciously, with perhaps negative consequences on the Labour Party. A definite no no, which brings us to option 3:

  1. Embrace it and use it to his advantage

Which he did.


Last year he even used it to garner votes for Labour’s political campaign:


As a result he was one of the most well known MPs, with a huge following on Twitter. He is known for not being camera shy and using his Twitter presence to share his messages.

Is he known for the right reasons? That is for you to decide, let us know! For now, the team at PushON are celebrating Ed Balls Day in the best way we know how! How are you celebrating?