February 15, 2012
The president of the small Japanese web development company Omocoro challenged one of his employees Mr. Sebuyama to obtain more than 1,000 retweets with his personal Twitter account of 2,000 followers. He just put two conditions: he couldn’t tell his followers that it was an experiment and he couldn’t go home until he obtained 1,000 retweets. The purpose of the experiment was to try to understand better the Twitter ecosystem and to know what kind of tweets are able to obtain more retweets.
Sebuyama starting the experiment.
Sebuyama spent the night at the office experimenting with different tweets and seeing how his followers reacted. One of the tweets that had more retweets (around 50) simply asked his followers to retweet it. After several hours he even uploaded some photos of him naked that barely obtained two or three retweets… it seems like nobody wants to retweet pictures of naked men.
The tweet that changed everything was this one:
For each retweet I will stick a clothespin to my body and I will post a picture.
He felt asleep and after some hours he had 1,815 retweets!
Everybody wanted to see @sebuyama covered in clothespins! More than Twitter, the Internet, new technologies and so on, what he really had to understand was the human psychology. Nobody wanted to see Sebuyama naked, but people wanted to see him naked and covered in clothespins! Why? Are we naturally attracted to see people humilliated in a funny way?
Sebuyama could finally go home and wrote a report explaining to his boss how he had been able to obtain so many retweets (in Japanese, includes pictures of Sebuyama naked).