Why did this photo go viral on LinkedIn?

Joanne and Sophie Burke viral LinkedIn Post

I want to share the story behind these photos and also share why I think they resonated with so many professionals on LinkedIn.

I am not amazing, I am an ordinary woman with extraordinary determination. It’s called grit.

On 18th October 2017, I posted theย photos accompanied to this article, on LinkedIn with a short caption.

I had Sophie at 17. I went back to school when she was six weeks old to do a two-year Leaving Cert. I washed dishes after school in a local hotel to pay our way. I went to university aged 19, with an 18-month old baby, I held down three jobs; her Dad was killed in a road traffic accident when she was five months old, I was facing dark prospects and difficult decisions on my own. They were dark times, very dark, but I was determined to educate myself, and be an example to my daughter. She beamed with pride at my first graduation in 2000. Today I’m beaming with pride as she graduates from NUI Galway, my Alma Mater, an institution that was very good to both of us. We did it together and now I hand Sophie Burke over to the world of Chartered Accountancy and KPMG.

I posted it around 8pm and when I woke the following morning, I was shocked to see it had already garnered the attention of over 5,000 people. I knew Sophie and I looked cute, but the reaction was much deeper than that.

viral LinkedIn post

I had Sophie at 17. I went back to school when she was six weeks old to do a two-year Leaving Cert. I washed dishes after school in a local hotel to pay our way. I went to university aged 19, with an 18-month old baby, I held down three jobs; her Dad was killed in a road traffic accident when she was five months old, I was facing dark prospects and difficult decisions on my own. They were dark times, very dark, but I was determined to educate myself, and be an example to my daughter. She beamed with pride at my first graduation in 2000. Today I’m beaming with pride as she graduates from NUI Galway, my Alma Mater, an institution that was very good to both of us. We did it together and now I hand Sophie Burke over to the world of Chartered Accountancy and KPMG.

As the days passed and the interaction grew, I began to think more and more about why two graduation photos were going viral on a professional networking site.

I also noted that most of the people who viewed, liked, commented or shared were 2nd degree connections – they didn’t even know me! And so here I am a week later on the 25th October writing this post.

The story of an ambitious young woman who fell in love with education

I first told my story publicly on a TEDx stage in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland almost two years ago. That stage and my words terrified me that day. The audience, many of whom, knew me, assumed I would talk about social media or digital marketing. But I didn’t. I stepped into my red heels and I told the story of a young ambitious woman who loved education, but who got broken, and nearly gave up on herself. I’m not going to rewrite or retell that story here because you can watch it for yourself.

Joanne Sweeney-Burke’s TEDx Talk – Upspeaking, Standing Up to Talking Down

 

 

Reason #1 this photo went viral on LinkedIn: Character wins over adversity

Life happens to everyone. I am not unique and much of my story may not be unique. But the experience that Sophie and I have had together is unique and this story belongs to us. I feel that LinkedIn users resonated with our story because, at some stage in their lives, they overcame adversity with their character. When they read my post, they felt a connection to an experience of their own.

Reason #2 this photo went viral on LinkedIn: Education matters

I am a life-long learner. I hold 11 academic and professional qualifications, which I am hugely proud of. I don’t say this to boast, I say it to remind myself that every single learning journey that I decided to embark on, was done to better Sophie’s life opportunities. Aferall, I was a single parent who had to battle the State, the hurdles life put in my way and my own self. Those who responded on LinkedIn appreciate the value of education and I feel they were reminded that their own educational journeys mattered.

Reason #3 this photo went viral on LinkedIn: We are all vulnerable

I showed vulnerability in this post and that is the most human characteristic. I was able to share sad times, bad times and proud times. I don’t agree that pride comes before a fall. I believe that we should celebrate the proud moments, especially those that are hard-earned.

Thank you LinkedIn users

To each and every one of you who viewed, liked, commented or shared the post, thank you. Sophie and I have read each one and have smiled and laughed, inhaled and exhaled, hugged and cried. You know, we are a great team. I’m so passionate about education, so it’s probably no surprise that I have a business dedicated to educating people and organisations about digital skills.

If you think I missed the point of why my LinkedIn post went viral, then please let me know in the comments section. Equally, if you think I got it right, please share your thoughts also.

Yours in education, JSB and SophieB.

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