Social Media

How one tweet about chicken nuggets became the second most retweeted post ever — and gained the attention of global brands along the way

Dominic Powell /

If you thought carefully planned social media strategies and informative posts were the way to gain exposure online, think again. As one hungry teen has shown, sometimes all it takes is determination — and a love for chicken nuggets.

On April 5, 16-year-old and Nevada resident Carter Wilkerson tweeted at American fast-food retailer Wendy’s, inquiring how many retweets he would need for one year’s free supply of chicken nuggets.

Jokingly, Wendy’s social media team replied with “18 million” — a challenge Wilkinson enthusiastically accepted, responding “consider it done”.

The following day, Wilkerson shared a screenshot of the exchange, with the caption “HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS”.

The tweet has now amassed more than 2.5 million retweets and over 640,000 replies, challenging only Ellen DeGeneres selfie tweet from the 2014 Oscars, which received 3.2 million retweets, as Twitter’s most popular post. To receive 18 million retweets, Wilkinson’s tweet would need to engage around 5.7% of Twitter’s 313 million monthly active users.

Although some Twitter users have suggested the interaction could be a clever marketing ploy from Wendy’s, in an interview with USA Today Wilkerson said he never expected the tweet to gain the momentum it has.

“I sent out the tweet as a joke, but then they responded with the outrageous number. I thought ‘Consider it done’ would be funny among my friend group. Then I put the screen shot up and it started gaining momentum,” he said.

United by a love for chicken nuggets and the opportunity for some free exposure, a vast number of brands and businesses have jumped on the increasingly popular tweet, offering Wilkerson all manner of help to get him his nuggets.

American airline service United offered Wilkerson a free flight to any Wendy’s store to eat his nuggets if he received the 18 million retweets, and mattress manufacturer Mattress Firm said, “Hit 18m and we’ve got your food coma sleep pack ready. You’re gonna need it”.

 

Wendy’s has declared itself officially “shook”, but savvy Twitter users have calculated that providing Wilkerson with a medium pack of nuggets every day for a year would cost the company around US$650 ($866). Not a bad price for this sort of publicity.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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