The Ed Balls phenomenon: How a British MP catapulted himself to meme stardom
Of all the twitter profiles in existence, many would agree that the account of British MP and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is not the most exciting. Chit chat about local issues, political musings and the standard platitudes of someone getting to grips with social media does not make for an enthralling read.
Yet the account boasts over 87,000 followers. Sure, the majority of those are individuals interested in his work for the Labour Party, but the remainder follow in the hopes that Mr Balls will once again make some reference to a misjudged tweet from two years ago. The tweet where he simply said: “Ed Balls”.
An easy mistake to make, as one figures out the dos and don’ts of Twitter, but his amusing name and high-profile, coupled with the internet’s love of a good meme, meant the bluster soon went viral, and ‘Ed Balls’ has been tweeted and retweeted consistently ever since.
The tweet has now been shared over 19,000 times, including by his wife and fellow Labour bencher Yvette Cooper, and at 4.20pm yesterday – exactly two years after the initial tweet was sent out – Twitter, predictably, exploded in another chorus of ‘Ed Balls’. The man himself – who’s remained jovial about the whole episode – followed suit six minutes later: “Ok, ok.. Because it would be rude not to..! RT @edballsmp: Ed Balls”.
It’s unlikely that other political figures could capitalize on a similar whoopsie now, not least because none have a surname worthy of such titillation. Nonetheless, while Ed Balls will surely be haunted by that tweet for some time to come, the incident shows that it’s not impossible for a fail to turn into a win.