If you have been on Twitter in the past week, you’ve likely heard about Carter Wilkerson’s quest for free chicken nuggets.
It all started on Wednesday, when Carter tweeted at fast food chain Wendy’s, asking for a year’s worth of free nuggets. Wendy’s, which has never shied away from being the center of attention, played along.
@carterjwm 18 Million
— Wendy's (@Wendys) April 6, 2017
Carter’s response? No big deal. “Consider it done,” the Reno-based high school student wrote.
HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS pic.twitter.com/4SrfHmEMo3
— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) April 6, 2017
The tweet quickly became the third most retweeted post on the entire social media platform – only to be topped by Ellen’s iconic Oscars selfie, and a message from Louis Tomlinson of One Direction. To date, it has garnered more than 2.3 million retweets, and his account has skyrocketed to over 30,000 followers.
Brands Join In
The fun didn’t stop there, though. Brands quickly saw the viral momentum Carter’s tweet was picking up and decided to join in on the fun.
T-Mobile’s edgy CEO, John Legere, offered the teen a year of free nuggets himself if he would switch from AT&T.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) April 8, 2017
United offered him a free flight to anywhere they serve.
— United (@united) April 8, 2017
A mattress retailer offered him a free sleep system.
— Mattress Firm (@MattressFirm) April 8, 2017
Tech leaders got together and joined in the fun.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) April 7, 2017
— Amazon (@amazon) April 8, 2017
— Google (@Google) April 8, 2017
Crunching the Numbers
For Carter, the attention might be priceless, but the real winners here are the brands. Wendy’s doesn’t want to cave and deliver the nuggets before he reaches 18 million retweets (which, quite frankly, isn’t going to happen) – but even if they did, their return on investment would already be infinitely higher than a year’s worth of nuggets. Let’s break it down using some rough numbers.
If Wendy’s elected to give Carter one free 6-piece nuggets a day for 365 days, that’s about $1.99 a day, or $726 for an entire year.
The average Twitter user has 208 followers, and each account’s tweets (including retweets) are seen by roughly 15% of their followers, for about 41 impressions per post.
2.3 million retweets, at 41 impressions per retweet, would give Carter’s post 94 million impressions – not to mention the additional exposure from news coverage, viral Facebook posts, and other spin-off content.
According to a report by Salesforce in 2015, the average CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of promoted tweets on Twitter is $8.92.
It would cost Wendy’s roughly $838,000 to reach the same audience as Carter’s tweet with an advertising campaign.
We’re not sure if Carter will ever get his nuggets, but we’re certain he’s loving his five minutes of fame.
— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) April 8, 2017
Update: May 9, 2017 —
Carter’s tweet has become the number one most retweeted post on the platform, beating out Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie, at 3.5 million retweets.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) May 9, 2017