A tweet from an American teenager has broken the record for the most retweets ever.
Carter Wilkerson’s tweet was simply a plea to US fast food chain Wendy’s, asking for a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets. The 16-year-old posted the following tweet to the company on April 5:
Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?
— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) April 6, 2017
The fast food company obliged with Wilkerson’s request and set him a rather steep target of 18 million retweets to claim his prize, less than one minute after the original tweet. Acknowledging that the bar had been set, Wilkerson accepted the challenge, tweeting back:
“Consider it done”
This then prompted the teen from Reno, Nevada to kickstart a campaign to claim his prize. He called upon the Twitterverse to come to his aid as “a man needs his nuggs.” It was not long before the tweet went viral and the tweet had reached the one million retweet mark within two days.
Furthermore, his campaign was aided by a number of large global corporations including Amazon, Apple Music, Google, Microsoft and even Twitter itself. Celebrities also assisted Wilkerson, with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul also retweeting the teen’s tweet:
United Airlines also jumped on the bandwagon by tweeting at Wilkerson with its own offer of free flights to any Wendy’s of his choice in a city that the company serves:
— United Airlines (@united) April 8, 2017
John Harrington, the deputy editor for PR Week, explained to the BBC that this move by these companies is known in his industry as ‘brand-jacking’, explaining that it can be hugely successful and displays the importance of reactive strategies towards trending topics on social media.
His tweet officially passed the previous record on Tuesday last week once it had surpassed 3,430,249 retweets. The previous record was held by Ellen DeGeneres for that Oscar selfie back in 2014. DeGeneres’ tweet featured a number of A-List celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep and Kevin Spacey, and reached 2.1 million tweets by the end of the Oscars awards ceremony, a figure that eventually rose to around 3.2 million.
DeGeneres also brought up Wilkerson’s challenge on her talk show a week after his plea, when it had reached the 2.6 million retweet mark. She jokingly told the world to stop as she had worked so hard to set her record, highlighting that Wilkerson had only asked for chicken nuggets.
Wendy’s stated that when Wilkerson broke the record it would donate $100,000 (£78,000) to charity, with a spokesperson for the company saying that it didn’t expect the response from the teen, nor the overwhelming support he received.
On May 9, Wilkerson’s record was officially ratified by Guinness World Records:
— Guinness World Records (@GWR) May 9, 2017
This prompted Wendy’s to reward the plucky teen with his prize of chicken nuggets:
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) May 9, 2017
The charity donation is to go to US-based charity the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, set up in 1992 by the founder of the fast food chain.
The lesson to be taken from this story is to always be proactive on social media. It can go a long way in raising and enhancing brand awareness, and of course, don’t stand in the way of a man and his chicken nuggets!