How many retweets do your tweets normally get? 0? 1? 5? 100? If you're high schooler Carter Wilkerson, that's now child's play. Wilkerson recently overtook superstar Ellen DeGeneres as having the most retweeted tweet of all time that commanded 3.4 million retweets. Wilkerson's triumphant quest for nuggets all started on April 6, 2016 when he simply asked Wendy's how many retweets he'd need to get to get a year's worth of free nuggets.

What happened next

As told on the Twitter blog, once Wilkerson posted his Tweet, Wendy's told the high schooler it would take 18 million retweets to earn the nuggets -- pretty high bar, Wendy's. However, using the hashtag #NuggsForCarter, Wilkerson then managed to get leaders from major companies--e.g., Google, Microsoft and Amazon, just to name a few--to support his cause. The epic responses would result in Carter being instantly propelled into social media hall of fame, garnering a whopping 3.6 million retweets.

When Wilkerson's tweet became the most retweeted post ever on May 9, 2017, Wendy's declared that was good enough. They not only gave Wilkerson the nuggets, but also donated $100,000 in his name to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

How Wendy's caught the ball other brands drop

Wendy's has had a long (and hilarious) track record of social media engagement, as the Twitter blog outlines, but where they really scored was in taking the time to acknowledge the individual customer, responding right away to Wilkerson's message.

Lizz Kannenberg is Social Director of Content at Sprout Social, a social media management tool company, and believed Wendy's was spot on with their social engagement by responding to Carter's initial tweet--in their own characteristically snarky voice--and then rewarding his achievement. Kannenberg elaborated,

"Wendy's has invested a significant amount of resources and time in developing the 'friendly snark' at the core of its social brand persona. Its social audience knows what to expect from Wendy's on social and the response to Carter's initial tweet was in line with that - not condescending, but playful. Pulling off a response like that is not some 'real-time marketing' coup; it's the result of years of calculated brand voice development in the social space"

The Q1 Sprout Social Index shows that brands respond to only 10% of incoming messages, meaning that they are ignoring the bulk of what current or future customers are saying. That not only robs them of a chance to maintain high customer engagement and get ideas for improvement and products but also denies them the opportunity to, like Wendy's, promote something positive to help with marketing and global brand recognition.

With most customers not having their voices heard, companies also can mislead themselves in what they assume their consumer actually wants. Brands need to take a page out of Wendy's social media book or face exponential consequences of potentially millions in lost revenue.


If you play your tweets right, you can get free nuggets (partially kidding).

Really though, Wilkerson's success demonstrates that social media can be an incredibly powerful player in the interactions between brand and consumer. The new social media standard has been set. Who is next?