How the Art & Culture app went from dormant to viral: 4 lessons

The long-ignored application got a major boost when Google played on human vanity. Now, selfies generate High Renaissance doppelgangers. A distinctive hashtag helps, too.

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It was a Google app that no one used—until they could take a selfie with it.

Although Google launched the app in 2016, it hadn’t received much traction until a portrait feature was added, proving that the human face and social media are potent ingredients for any organization hoping to go viral.

NPR reported:

It works like this: iPhone or Android users must download the app, then find the “Is your portrait in a museum?” function and take and submit their photo. Google sifts through the thousands of paintings in its database and using its computer vision software makes a match alongside a percentage of how well the two images resemble each other. (There is no explanation given about the supposed science behind this.)

Users seemed not to care whether the company could prove the science behind its matching algorithm. Instead, the interactive app gained traction quickly.

NPR continued:

The metric site App Annie said Google Arts & Culture was the No. 1 free app over the weekend. And by Monday, it was still holding on to the spot.

Perhaps users can’t resist the vain pleasure of seeing and showcasing their own visages reflected back in a famous work of art.

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