What can we learn from the new most retweeted tweet?

Posted on January 9, 2019


When American teenager Carter Wilkerson achieved the goal of getting the most retweets ever for his 2017 tweet attempting to get a year’s supply of chicken nuggets from Wendy’s, it could have been seen as either a romantic story, or a sign of how dull and brainless social media can sometimes be. I saw it more as the latter, but I still couldn’t help but admire the persistence of the unknown teen in setting the record.

It’s somewhat surprising that Wilkerson’s cheeky record has remained in place for more than a year and a half, but what’s not at all surprising is that now that it has been beaten, it’s been beaten by somebody with a lot of money who is offering a clear incentive for people to retweet it.

Japanese millionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who founded clothing firm Zozo, put out this tweet last Saturday. As of Tuesday morning, it had been retweeted more than 5.5 million times, smashing Wilkerson’s effort by around 2 million retweets.

What does it say? First of all, it wishes everybody a happy new year, but it also promises to share 100 million Japanese yen (roughly £720,000) between 100 people selected at random who had followed him and hit the ‘retweet’ button.

I suppose the first thing we can learn from this is that it’s a lot easier to create a social media sensation if you have a huge budget to work with, and SMEs, by their nature of being small or medium-sized, usually don’t. However, they can take heart from the second learning here, which is that people will happily share a social media post if there is an incentive for them to do so.

At Engage Web, we’ve helped clients achieve a good rate of Facebook and Twitter shares by putting something as modest as a £10 shopping voucher up for grabs to a randomly selected person who shares the post. It requires minimal effort on the competitor’s behalf, yet gives them a chance to gain something for nothing.

Unfortunately, social media has become rife with ‘win a car’ scams and the like in recent years, and this has made some people distrustful of social media competitions. To start with, you should therefore make sure your social page looks as professional and authentic as possible. Consider approaching Facebook and Twitter to get a blue tick on your account to confirm that it’s really yours. You don’t have to be a celebrity to do this – we have them on our Engage Web accounts.

Be sure to run your competition fairly and independently too. The easiest way is probably to put all the names in a spreadsheet and apply a randomising function to select a winner, but you should have the process overseen by an independent individual to prove that you’re not just selecting a friend or other associate.

We can’t all flash the yen like Maezawa, but we can all learn from what is, when you look beyond the huge incentive at stake, a very simple way to drive engagement.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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  • […] January 2019, Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa managed to set a new record for the most retweeted tweet of all time. He didn’t do this by tweeting anything particularly witty or profound, but simply by offering a […]

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