The Curious Case of Carter Wilkerson

Late last year, 16-year old Carter Wilkerson hopped on Twitter to ask a seemingly innocuous question to fast-food titan Wendy’s: how many retweets would it take to earn him a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets?

Playfully, the restaurant’s social media team immediately jumped on the opportunity, tasking the teen with reaching 18 million retweets before it would accept Wilkerson’s terms. With an empty stomach and a catchy hashtag–#NuggsForCarter—a viral sensation was born.

Fast forward a few weeks, and Carter Wilkerson had reached over 3.5 million retweets. Not 18 million, but enough to beat the world record previously held by Ellen DeGeneres. Wilkerson quickly found himself a viral media sensation, making appearances on news networks and even getting the opportunity to meet DeGeneres herself, on her own TV show.

And though Wilkerson was roughly 14 million retweets short of the original goal, the media attention was too much for Wendy’s to ignore. Just over a month after the initial challenge was issued, Carter Wilkerson got his free chicken nuggets.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Wendy’s was just being generous. One six-piece chicken nugget order costs just $1.79. Assuming Carter ate Wendy’s nuggets three meals a day, every day, for a year, Wendy’s would have to put up a total of $1,960.05. Not a bad expense considering that the campaign generated $6.72 million of marketing revenue through retweets and $450,000 in earned media value.

Not a bad return for 140 characters.

This isn’t just an interesting story, though. It’s a lesson for any contact center leader who has scoffed at the importance of social media, or the notion that there’s not a clear enough ROI to expand operations to include a dedicated social team.

But with social media interactions set to grow from 4 percent to 9 percent in 2019, the case is clear. Social media is here to stay, and your organization must a plan in place to adopt today. To learn more, click here.