The Arby’s Tweet That Was Seen By Millions – Social Media Success Story

August 27, 2014
Josh Light


What if one tweet could generate 30 million dollars worth of advertising? It can, and it has. Check out this story:

Pharrell Williams wore this hat during the Grammy Awards:

pharrell williams tweet

Josh Martin, Arby’s social media manager, recognized a social media marketing opportunity, and made this tweet:

arbys tweet

Martin’s tweet got 177 million impressions which is equivalent to a 30 million dollar ad buy. It has also been widely covered by mainstream media.

Arby’s later bought the hat back from Pharrell Williams for 44,000 dollars.

arbys bought the hat

What Is Event Hijacking

What Josh Martin did is something I like to call “event hijacking”. It’s the art of tuning in to an event on Twitter, and looking for ways to apply your brand or products to the conversation.

How does one go about engaging in event hijacking?

Step 1 Find An Event

Look for an event that is widely watched, or is specific for your niche. Most big brands will monitor nationally televised events, like the Grammy Awards, to find opportunities for event hijacking.

The events don’t have to be big though. You can get away with tuning into local events as long as there is Twitter activity happening.

I’d also recommend selecting events that you’re familiar with. This will make it a lot easier for you to come up with content that resounds well with the audience at the event. It will also help you maintain an authentic voice.

Step 2 Identify Your Goals

Usually when you engage in event hijacking you’re either targeting the media, or your consumers. These targets aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s good to decide beforehand what you’re trying to accomplish.

Step 3 Think About Content

Sometimes it pays off to come up with content ideas before the event happens. Preparing content beforehand increases the chances that something will go viral.

If you come up with content ideas beforehand then you can schedule them to go out with Redbirdqueue. This saves you lots of time, and frees up your brain cells so you can look for opportunities to event hijack.

Step 4 Monitor The Event

During the event you’re going to want to watch what people are tweeting.

Josh Martin came up with the Arby’s tweet idea because other people on Twitter were already talking about the similarities between the Arby’s hat, and the hat Pharrell Williams was sporting.

During the event you should watch for trends, and look for ways you can inject your brand or products. Oreo did a great job of this at the Super Bowl. They noticed that the power went out, and people were tweeting about it so they blasted out the following tweet:

oreo tweet

Needless to say…the tweet went viral.

A great tool for tracking Twitter conversations in real-time is Tweetdeck. It’s free.

Step 5 Craft Your Content

The content that you tweet needs to be related to a trend currently happening, and it also has to be relevant to your brand or products.

You may even consider mentioning an influencer with your tweets (like Josh Martin did). You can use Redbirdqueue to find influencers.

smokey the bear pharrell tweet

Step 6 Stop

If a tweet of yours begins to go viral then you may consider not tweeting anymore (this is what Arbys did). Not tweeting anymore will ensure that when people go to your Twitter profile they’ll be exposed to your viral tweet.

An alternative approach is to “pin” your tweet to your profile. Pinning a tweet causes it to always appear at the top of your profile page.

Not tweeting anymore doesn’t mean you can’t mention or favorite other people’s tweets…it just means you don’t tweet anymore during the event.

P.S. You could even consider customizing your Twitter profile for an event. Here is an article that makes this super easy, “How To Customize Your Twitter Header“.

Have you ever done any event hijacking? Would love to hear your stories…comment below.

(Special thanks to Josh Martin for letting us use his Twitter profile pic.)

(Photo Credit: Flickr via Mike Mozart)