Tony Hawk holds worldwide scavenger hunt on Twitter

Monday, 28 April 2014

Maybe the X Games should add a new event: the scavenger hunt. Last weekend, skateboarding icon @tonyhawk held the 2014 Twitter Hunt (#THTH14), which stretched across the globe.

Hawk arranged for more than 80 boxes to be hidden in nearly as many cities throughout the world, from Oak Park, California to Alexandria, Virginia to Brisbane, Australia. On the morning of April 19, he began tweeting clues out with the city, a photo and a riddle or hint as to the specific whereabouts.

People who found the boxes were asked to reply to @tonyhawk on Twitter with a unique hashtag taped to the box and a photo of themselves with the package, along with the city and state (or country if outside of the U.S.). Then Hawk tweeted the finders’ photos to let everyone know the item was found.

His Tweets during the scavenger hunt drew a total of 3,700 Retweets and 8,600 favorites. The #THTH14 hashtag was used 4,400 times.

Events like #THTH14 are uniquely suited to Twitter.

Hawk believes the format does not work on other social media platforms — just on Twitter. “It is fast, effective and prolific,” he said. “Hashtags and replies are easy to follow, so we can easily tell people as soon as items have been found.”

Both Hawk and the Hunt sponsors tweeted about the event in the days and weeks leading up to it.

With all the promotion on the platform, @tonyhawk gained more than 2,000 new followers the day before the scavenger hunt, marking his biggest one-day spike in nearly a year, and 4 times his daily average.

On the morning of April 19, @tonyhawk tweeted the start of the Twitter Hunt before rattling off a multitude of Tweets with clues and photos. Find a selection of those Tweets here:

The idea for the scavenger hunt came to Hawk when he joined Twitter several years ago and discovered, as he says, “how fast and far-reaching information traveled across the platform.” So he decided to do an experiment: he hid a skateboard on the way to his office. Soon enough, someone found it and tweeted a photo with it. Hawk decided to extend this experiment to a few friends. Six years later, he’s seen the hunt become a global Twitter scavenger hunt with sponsors, donating not just skateboards but musical instruments, food and other prizes.

“The first time was just me, staring at replies on my laptop all day waiting for items to be found,” Hawk recalled. Now, he said, “Most items are found within minutes, and the record has been 30 seconds. People love the idea and enjoy following along even if there isn’t anything hidden in their city.”

His goal is to draw enough support and sponsors that they can hide a box in even more places around the world. “The most entertaining replies are from the people that think I am hiding all of these personally, across the globe, within minutes of each other,” Hawk said. “To them, I AM Santa.”

Do you know of other innovative uses of Twitter? Write to [email protected].