College students turn out for college dropout

Founder of Twitter account “We Rate Dogs” Matt Nelson speaks Tuesday night in Gaines 

Fifteen minutes before social entrepreneur Matt Nelson takes the stage, students are lining the halls of the Freeman Center, out the door and into the chilly night.

The buzz about “the guy who made the Twitter dog account” has finally amassed in a large crowd of eager college students. 

CAB’s Tuesday night speaker featured the 22 year-old Nelson, founder of Twitter account “We Rate Dogs” and its spin-off, “Thoughts of Dog.”

The packed Gaines Theater welcomed Nelson with cheers and applause. 

With a simple opening and thanks to the crowd, Nelson’s speech followed a chronological account of his life, beginning with his influences from high school and ending with a live display of his prominent social media following. 

Nelson described the ‘birthplace’ of his Twitter account taking place in an Applebee’s, where he brought up the idea with his friends.

From the beginning, he simply “wanted to make more people laugh through dogs,” emphasizing that the captions were what made the account unique. 

His initial account features posts of dogs with captions that rate cuteness from 1-10 (frequently going over the scale) and other funny comments.

Posts in “Thoughts of Dog” are, quite literally, the humorous thoughts from the points of view of various dogs.

After receiving thousands of likes from his first dog rating, large numbers of followers sent him pictures of their dogs, asking him for ratings and hoping to be featured on his Twitter account. 

Throughout his time on stage, Nelson asked for audience questions, breaking up his speech and opening the opportunity for fulfillment of audience anticipation. 

While some students asked him about his personal life, many focused on his overnight success and particular brand of humor.

After gaining a rapid number of followers practically overnight, Nelson explained a relatable phenomenon – sleep deprivation and overworked tiredness. 

With a full-time college load and making sure to post multiple times per day, Nelson eventually found others to delegate tasks of narrowing down content and managing e-commerce for his online store.

Realizing that his talent lay in writing the tweets, Nelson explained that the experience taught him a lot, and that “delegating is a special skill to have.”

Nelson also did perhaps the most obvious thing to fix the problem: he dropped out of college.

He had been attending Campbell University in North Carolina, intending to pursue a major in Golf Management. 

Since his following has grown, Nelson has branched out to participate in national campaigns, seen in his posts featuring the National Dog Show and pet nutrition brand Royal Canin.

He even works with Disney, posting about new movie “Dumbo” and currently featuring the advertisement on the “We Rate Dogs” Twitter cover page.

Through his Twitter accounts, Nelson has also raised a significant amount of money for dogs suffering from illnesses and injuries.

With goals in the thousands (which he frequently raises in hours or less), Nelson has posted a fundraiser for a dog in need every Friday since the first Friday of February 2017. 

With posts that garner thousands of like within seconds, Nelson’s follower base is obviously strong. However, he allowed the audience to experience that visual with him,  posting a tweet to “Thoughts of Dog” live in front of the audience and projecting the number of likes and comments as the post circulated the internet. 

Many of the audience members commented pictures of Nelson on stage, prompting humorous response at the feed on the large screen.

Tuesday afternoon, Nelson posted about his CNU performance on “We Rate Dogs” – still finding a way to include his humorous style.

Captioning the CNU flyer featuring a picture of a golden retriever, Nelson wrote, “I’m speaking at Christopher Newport University tomorrow night and this flyer for it implies I am a golden retriever puppy. The bar could not be set higher.”

~Kristen Ziccarelli, A&E Editor~

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