What do you get when mix teenage fangirls with a photo of a good-looking Target employee? A social media sensation otherwise known as #AlexFromTarget.
In a two-day timespan, the hashtag AlexFromTarget was tweeted more than 1.5 million times, according to USA Today. Buzzfeed also posted 17 memes, including #AlexFromTarget, as well as creating a quiz called “How Alex from Target Are You?”
According to the Washington Post, this hashtag started with a photo of Target employee, Alex, bagging products at a Target in Texas. The photo was posted to Twitter and shared by multiple teen-fangirl accounts, causing Alex’s Twitter following to rise from 144 followers to more than 590,000 just by doing his job.
Initially, a company named Breakr took credit for this media mayhem. CEO Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares released this statement via LinkedIn: “We wanted to see how powerful the fangirl demographic was by taking an unknown good-looking kid and Target employee from Texas to overnight viral internet sensation.”
He also called the media blitz “one of the most amazing social media experiments ever.”
However, a more recent article by ABC News claims that they just helped push out the hashtag to the fangirl audience once the original post was made.
Could it really be that this Internet sensation of a worker bagging products is all due to the fangirl population? The Washington Post seems to think so.
The Post notes that “The fangirl faction isn’t just young, connected, and highly motivated to tweet about its causes; it’s also enormously savvy about the way Internet communities work and what mechanisms control visibility within them.”
They even go as far as to say that the identity of Alex doesn’t even matter. He didn’t ask for someone to take his picture nor did Target.
This could have been any seemingly good-looking grocer, as long as the fangirls took hold of the message. In the past month, 25 percent of Twitter’s trending topics have involved boy-band fandoms. The Post refers to this takeover of teenage girls as “perhaps the most powerful, and most underestimated, force shaping mainstream Internet culture.”
Whether it was due to a marketing firm or the fangirl population, the Internet has proven to be a bastion for menial activities to become viral sensations.
This craze is similar to the Dumb Starbucks or Ellen’s selfie at the Oscars, spreading worldwide within days (TIME).
With the right shareable content and the right sharers, almost anything can become known in every household in America. If Alex from Target can become famous, so can almost anyone.
What do you think it takes to become your own trending topic?