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What can we learn from this record breaking, nugget winning US teenager?

Tim Bechervaise explains what lessons can be learnt from Carter Wilkerson’s success at gaining the most amount of retweets on Twitter and a year’s supply of Wendy's chicken nuggets

You don’t ask you don’t get, right?

It’s perhaps what went through the mind of US teenager Carter Wilkerson on 5 April when he tweeted fast-food chain Wendy’s asking how many retweets he would need to earn a year’s free supply of chicken nuggets. Within a minute Wendy’s had replied. “18 million,” they offered, to which Carter responded, “Consider it done.”

He hasn’t, has he?

Well, not quite, but the 16-year-old is well on his way, so much so that his tweet asking for support has been retweeted over 3.5 million times. On Tuesday (9 May) it became the most retweeted tweet ever, beating the previous record set by Ellen DeGeneres in 2014 for her selfie at the Oscars (3.4 million retweets). Amongst those sharing the nugget love were Apple Music, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Twitter, plus a bunch of celebrities. United Airlines have even offered to fly Carter to any Wendy’s in the world where they fly to, should he reach the 18 million target. The episode also explains why you may have seen #NuggsforCarter doing the rounds on your Twitter feed.

Having broken the record, Wendy’s (who must be purring over the free publicity they are getting) donated $100,000 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in Carter’s name. The charity was set up in 1992 by the founder of Wendy’s.

It’s a cool feel-good story which again highlights the potential of social media to take something small and seemingly insignificant and create something rather big and surprising. It reminds me of something God said to the Old Testament prophet Zechariah. “Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings?” he asks, referring to the humble and unpromising beginnings of the second temple, before continuing, “They’ll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!” (4:10, The Message)

Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, for all their niggles, frustrations and dangers, have enormous power for good.

Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, for all their niggles, frustrations and dangers, have enormous power for good. Our posts may not break any records but they could do something. What if we got in touch with someone on Twitter to share an idea or ask a question? What if we persevered with that online campaign to raise awareness for a cause close to your heart? What if we posted a quote from a book that we can’t put down? What if we shared on Facebook something cool that happened in our life, like an answered prayer? What if we beamed about a restaurant or bookshop or coffee shop that we have just visited? What if we share that hipster-looking photograph on Instagram?

Maybe said person on Twitter will respond and ask for more information. Maybe a couple of unexpected retweets by high-profile people will give your campaign some renewed impetus? Maybe someone will happen to come across that book in a bookshop and, recalling your ringing recommendation, buy it and later call you to tell you how much the book has spoken to them. Maybe the story you shared on Facebook is just what a friend you haven’t seen in years needed to hear, prompting them to re-establish contact with you. Maybe a friend decides to head to that restaurant, where they happen to come across an old friend. Maybe your hipster-looking photograph unleashes a wave of creativity in one of your followers?

There is tremendous power in social media, much more so with the Holy Spirit involved.

Of course, this is not to say that everything we share or ask carries impact. But I do wonder if we underestimate how far our input can travel. Everything in us can often shout, "No one will listen!", "Who cares?", "There is no point!" or, "I keep hitting brick walls!" These lies can silence us when something wonderful lays waiting to happen when we persevere or just give something a go. There is tremendous power in social media, much more so with the Holy Spirit involved.

Let’s take a leaf out of Carter Wilkerson and just give stuff a go. It’s amazing what can sometimes happen from the smallest of beginnings…

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