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11% OF STUDENTS SPEND 6+ HOURS ON FACEBOOK DAILY // THE LARGEST DATING SITE IS BADOO, WITH 5X

MORE USERS THAN TINDER

THIS IS @WERATEDOGS. 11/10 FUNNY AF Matt Nelson, Campbell University student and founder of @WeRateDogs, talks building a brand Kevin Cordon, UC Irvine

It’s not often that a meal at Applebee’s results in a great idea—most of the time it’s just indigestion and a bad hangover. But, in November 2015, an idea was born in one of the restaurant’s booths that would lead to over 400K followers on Twitter and 40.5 million vine loops. That idea was WeRateDogs (@dog_rates), a Twitter account run by Campbell University sophomore Matt Nelson. Following the dictum that social media posts featuring dogs attract more attention than those featuring humans, Nelson created a platform in which people submit pictures of their canine friends and he rates them. Selections are scored on a 1-10 scale and then given hilarious comments based on the ridiculous pictures people submit. Scrolling through the @WeRateDogs feed, you’ll see typical snapshots of cute puppies hugging their owner’s leg and smiling for the camera, and then you’ll come across weirder photos, like an adorable golden retriever with his head stuck in a slinky or a dog named Dash that looks eerily similar to John Mayer. Though sifting through pictures of dogs may seem fun, it is by no means leisurely work: The account receives around 800 submissions a day. And unlike the rest of Twitter, which is generally just word vomit, each of Nelson’s posts is carefully crafted; it takes between 15-45 minutes to create and caption each tweet before it is sent out into the Twitterverse. All captions are developed on the fly, and there’s no set schedule for posting, which Nelson thinks adds to the personality of the account. The spontaneity means anything can happen at any time, which leaves canine enthusiasts in a state of constant anticipation. As a student in charge of entertaining an audience of thousands, balancing school and @WeRateDogs can be difficult. “I’m the type of person to put 100 percent into whatever I’m doing,” Nelson said over email, “which usually means I sacrifice efficiency in other areas of my life.” In other words, running @WeRateDogs adds a full-time job on top of schoolwork and a social life. Compared to other popular social media accounts, Nelson has remained relatively anonymous, though to him that isn’t a bad thing. “I don’t think of myself as being the one with 400,000 followers,” he says. “The thing I created has that audience. I do recognize and am very thankful to have a platform to broadcast my quirky thoughts to such a large following, but by no means do I consider myself a social media personality.” Social media fame is a weird thing, one that society probably doesn’t yet fully understand—one minute a person is sharing a joke on Twitter, the next they’re signing partnership deals and hosting events. Nelson has worked hard to keep himself grounded, but he still has plans for the future. Though he plans to finish school while running the account, opportunities are popping up left and right. @WeRateDogs already has its own e-commerce store that features tons of designs unique to the account, including cute products for dog lovers. Nelson is also in the process of collating submissions for a @WeRateDogs book to be published in 2017. Despite the account’s popularity and the opportunities it has created, Nelson always remembers why he started in the first place. “Despite these other exciting things, my main priority throughout all of this has been, and always will be making people happy.”

5 UP AND COMING APPS FOR STUDENTS PE ACH Peach combines many of the popular features from other social media outlets, using “magic words” to help you share your day with friends. Y IK YAK Essentially a mobile bulletin board, Yik-Yak allows users to share thoughts with people nearby and search other locations to see what users in other places are talking about. SHOT S A cousin of Snapchat, Shots lets you take pictures with the selfie camera on your phone and share them with other users. The VHS-like timestamp on pictures taken in the app makes it slightly distinctive. COFFE E ME E T S BAGE L Use this app when you need a coffee date. Each day you’ll receive an email with a potential date, and if you match with someone, you can set up a meeting with discounts to local coffee shops. DATE M Y SCHOOL Date My School takes the traditional dating site and gears it specifically toward students, letting you interact only with people from your chosen school. You need an “.edu” email address to join.

Name: Mat t Nelson School: Campbell Universit y Major: Golf Management Twit ter: @dog_rates

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// NOVEMBER 2016

Study Breaks Magazine November Austin  
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