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'How many RTs' is a viral monster and nuggets are to blame

Social Cues: A viral tweet asking for free Wendy's nuggets is starting a new trend on social media.

Just a peek of the mountains of "How Many RTs" messages Tristan Hill has received.

Tristan Hill

How much does a retweet cost?

Across Twitter, there's an uptick of people trying to exchange retweets for goods and services, as if they were real money. You can thank chicken nuggets for that.

On April 5, Carter Wilkerson, a teen from Nevada, sent out a tweet showing that he needed 18 million retweets to get free chicken nuggets from Wendy's for a year. In less than 10 days, Wilkerson has climbed up to 2.9 million retweets, and the viral post doesn't show any signs of stopping.

The record is 3.3 million retweets from Ellen DeGeneres, which she set during the Oscars in 2014. The TV host on Thursday took steps to defend her title, encouraging anyone who retweets Wilkerson's tweet to also retweet her Oscars selfie.

Wilkerson's tweet is so popular that even other brands are jumping onto the replies in hopes of piggybacking off the wildly viral post. Some provide offers on top of free nuggets like trips to Asia, while others just look desperate and irrelevant.

Wilkerson's success has started a wave of copycats all hoping to become viral and get some free goodies for their troubles. Just look at this screenshot of Universal Studios' Twitter inbox and DMs asking "How many RTs" to get free tickets and annual passes in just the last two days.

Tristan Hill, a branding and marketing manager for GFuel Energy Formula, said he'd seen a massive uptick in "How many RTs" messages in his inbox after the viral nuggets tweet. The Twitter account received at least over 100 direct messages asking in just the last 24 hours.

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Social Cues is our look at what people are talking about across Twitter and Facebook.

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"I delete most as there's so many and I need to be able to see our sponsor's DMs," Hill said.

The ones he replies to, he follows the script and tells them they need 18 million retweets. "Every single one that I've replied back to has tweeted out to get the RTs."

Requests based on number of retweets isn't new to social media. Teens have been doing it for prom dates, convince their parents to get a puppy or tickets for a concert. But it's usually with parents, or celebrities.

Wilkerson's viral tweet resurfaced the trend, but now corporations are being spammed with "How many RTs" requests.

The requests for free stuff with retweets as currency is so widespread that it's become its own meme, with people just asking "How many RTs" for ridiculous things.

Here I am, still wondering how many retweets it'll take to save Twitter from its plunging shares.

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