Posting on Instagram has become second nature for digitally savvy companies, just as it has for the average social media user. For businesses, though, it’s an incredible way to push their goods and services if they can figure out how to break through the fray of promotional content.
Fitness on Broughton in Savannah, Georgia, made an attempt to improve their presence on the picture-sharing app on August 9, 2017. As a result, employee Jessica Gober grabbed a can of energy drink and stood in front of the camera as someone recorded a Boomerang video of her.
With only 70 followers and fewer than ten other images on their page, gym staff might not have expected too much to come of the video. The footage showed Gober shaking her hips, tilting her head and smiling while holding onto the purple-guava-pear-flavored beverage.
But then the gym received a direct message. Was it from one of their members wanting to know more about the energy drink? Well, no. It was from someone – a very famous someone – who had slid into their DMs. The DM was from Justin Bieber. And he had a question; not about the energy drink, but about the girl holding it.
Jessica Gober worked at Fitness on Broughton, helming the gym’s front desk while providing fitness and nutrition coaching of her own. Working in the fitness industry made sense for the 22-year-old, who had gained confidence after joining a weight training class while studying at Georgia Southern University.
“It feels so good to be able to be comfortable and happy in my own skin,” she said in an Instagram post. “Worrying about how I felt and how I looked at all times was just not a way to live. So I set myself goals and I worked hard to get where I am.”
Gober runs her own fitness-centric Instagram page, too, posting workout ideas and motivational thoughts to get her followers in the same mindset that she’s had for years. So, it was only natural that she was the one who came up with the idea for Fitness on Broughton’s August Instagram post.
Gober told BuzzFeed that she thought the gym needed to grow its social media presence and start posting more. After she discussed this with her co-workers, they decided to film the fateful Boomerang video.
It wasn’t long before their Instagram account had a message waiting in its inbox – and we already know it was from one of the world’s most famous pop stars. Gober said, “We got a notification that said Justin Bieber sent you a message and, after opening the message, we realized it was really him.”
Understandably, she was shocked. With the gym’s Instagram account having fewer than 100 followers, Gober struggled to figure how Bieber had managed to find it. She said, “We were like, how in the world did he see this random post?”
But even more unexpected is what Bieber’s actual message said. It encompassed only eight words and one emoji: “Who is that girl,” he wrote, before sending a red heart. “? In ur latest post,” he concluded.
Gober knew this was the type of thing that people would have to see to believe, so she did what many other smartphone users would do: she took a screenshot of Bieber’s message. Then she posted it to her Twitter account.
“Did this actually just happen…” she wrote in her tweet, which also contained the image of the pop star’s message. “Justin Bieber just messaged the gym that I work at and asked who I was.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, her tweet went viral with approximately 14,000 shares and 70,000 likes. And Twitter users had various reactions to Gober’s decision to share Bieber’s message with the world. Most reprimanded her, reasoning that by revealing his DM, she had potentially ruined her chance to meet the singer and form a possible relationship with him.
But Gober had the perfect response to those messages. In a second tweet she asserted that she did not want a chance with the pop star. “I’ve got everything I need right here,” she wrote, sharing four photos of herself and her boyfriend. As you can imagine, he had a few thoughts about Bieber’s bold move.
Gober told BuzzFeed, “My boyfriend and family basically think the same thing I do, that it is very random and shocking. The fact that it has gone viral is not anything we would have ever expected! Everyone was definitely surprised that a celebrity reached out asking who I was.”
She also couldn’t believe the amount of press attention her story received, especially the ones casting Bieber as a creep. “All the articles that have been posted have been based only on assumptions,” she said. “We didn’t think Justin Bieber was being creepy.”
In fact, the gym’s account even responded to Bieber and gave him Gober’s Instagram handle. The Fitness on Broughton employee had no qualms with that decision, either. She said, “I don’t think he had any inappropriate intentions by simply asking who I was.”
As for Gober’s intentions with the Instagram post – to bulk up the Fitness on Broughton’s barely-there social media presence – she achieved her goal. Now, the gym’s page has over 6,000 followers and 25 posts, including one dedicated to Gober’s viral internet fame.
Her own social media pages, too, have thousands of followers, likes and plenty of Bieber-related comments. This includes her fitness-focused Instagram, where a large following will undoubtedly help her as she pursues her career as a fitness coach. She wrote on her professional website, “My goal is to empower others with the knowledge and the advice I wish I’d had while on my fitness journey.” Thanks in part to Bieber’s DM, she has begun to build the audience to do just that.