A special guest was the center of attention for multiple panels during the start of Mass Comm Week this year.
Professional rater of dogs, Twitter personality and 21 year old author Matt Nelson spoke to mass communication, digital innovation and other interested students about himself as the creator of WeRateDogs, a Twitter account with over 3 million followers, a book deal and merchandise.
Nelson was invited to join in this week’s festivities by Dale Blasingame, senior lecturer in the mass communication department. The two exchanged direct messages online, and after gaining the funding to bring Nelson to campus for a couple days, Nelson was able to enjoy San Marcos and discuss his journey with students hoping to learn more about social media strategy and marketing.
Additionally, students were able to take photos with Nelson and have their dogs rated with Nelson’s unique scale. The average pup receives a solid 13 out of 10 rating partnered with a pun.
How did you start your account?
I started a Twitter account just as a creative outlet to write jokes and stuff. Then I realized that dogs were this really hot topic on the internet, so I kind of used them as my medium to reach a larger audience. I has just under 10 thousand followers on my personal account when I made the new dog rating account, and it just exploded immediately.
Within days, Nelson’s account had over 100 thousand followers. In addition to the new fans, Nelson also received several monetary offers on his account. The highest offer Nelson received was for $800 thousand from a fellow Twitter user.
What challenges have come with running a Twitter account as a business?
The DMCA, which is the Digital Media Copyright Act I believe. It is a pretty broken system, so much so that people have been able to impersonate owners of dogs I have posted and suspend my account temporarily. Thankfully, early on, when I only had one consistent account and it was called Dog Ratings, I, eventually after being loud enough got help from Twitter and someone eventually escalated my claims.
Problems like people ripping off what photos are being sent, or literally the words I’m putting on the internet is a problem many don’t see as a problem. That’s been a constant battle to keep a brand alive when so many people are trying to use it for their own advantage.
I also don’t really take criticism well. Because I have successfully monetized this, people will say negative things. I’m not trying to say what I put out into the world is on an intellectual level they just can’t comprehend. There is just a value to this some people just can’t comprehend.
Nelson currently runs three main accounts; his personal account of over 40 thousand followers, his WeRateDogs account and his Thoughts of Dog account where he diaries the inner workings of a dog’s mind daily.
Where do you plan on taking this concept in the future and why have you maintained it?
This is almost like having the world at my fingers. The connections that come with having that following are really immeasurable. I guess, the selfish satisfaction of putting something out there into the world that people like is great.
We have another book proposal in the works for the second account, and we have a calendar deal. All of these opportunities just sort of fell into my lap. Now that this is my priority and I want to sustain the account long term, I’m starting to seek out opportunities.
Nelson has currently left school to pursue what he loves to do full time. He was originally getting an education in golf management at Campbell University in North Carolina. He is living at home conveniently, with his Golden Retriever, Zoey, and his family.
How has your visit to San Marcos been?
I love Torchy’s. I had Torchy’s for the first time in San Marcos. I got the Baja Shrimp taco and the Crossroads taco. They were phenomenal, and the queso was phenomenal. I’m a huge fan of Qdoba back home. I’m a big advocate. We’re going to Taproom for burgers tonight too. I’ve enjoyed it here, visiting Austin and seeing how big Texas State is.
The classes I went to seemed really interested, especially the first class, they had good questions. It was my first time speaking to a audience and lecturing about what I do. I wanted to give it a shot, and I think its something I will want to do again.
What is the best rating you have ever given?
That was actually two days ago. I rated a dog named Smiley. Smiley was a blind Golden Retriever who lost his battle with cancer. He got a 15 out of 10. I’m not sure if i’ll give out a rating that high again, we’ll see.
Nelson posts on his accounts multiple times a day, and he assured that all messages and almost all comments are seen. To have a dog rated, a submission can be sent via direct message.