INTERVIEW | WeRateDogs™

“Are they writing about dogs AGAIN?” you might sigh. The answer is: yes, absolutely. In just under 24 months, the Twitter account WeRateDogs has snowballed to fame, boasting a bigger following than corporate companies such as ASOS and Walmart online. A brainchild of Matt Nelson, a 20 year old golf management major at Campbell University, WeRateDogs has piggybacked off the internet’s love for man's best friend and, accidentally it seems, developed an entire brand whilst at it.

With an eCommerce store, mobile app and book in tow, WeRateDogs is a h*cking worldwide sensation, rating the cutest canines and puppers out of ten. Sure, the logic and algorithms behind the ratings are occasionally questioned, but every dog truly does have its day, and not even Brant can waver that.

Speaking to The Dogfather himself, Fast Web Media asks the all-important questions on what makes WeRateDogs tick and yes, we do enquire on what it takes to really be a good boy.

Q: How did the idea for WeRateDogs first come about?

The idea for WeRateDogs didn't come to me all at once. I was on Twitter before I made the account. On my personal account I amassed a decent following from just writing jokes. I used it as my creative outlet. I soon realized how much of a hot topic dogs are. Any joke that involved a dog did better than it probably should have. So, in order to reach the most people with my writing, I chose dogs as the medium. I wish I had a eureka moment that would be easier to explain, but it was more of a gradual thing and one day rating the dogs came into my head. The rest you know.

Q: As we mentioned in our blog article, the WeRateDogs tone of voice is unique and very funny. How did you develop it?

Over time I realized what worked and what didn't as far as tone and style or writing. It's something I crafted but also something that somehow came naturally to me.

Q: Has your approach to the account (how it's run, the tone of voice, the ratings) changed in any way since launching it?

It has changed quite a lot actually. At the beginning, the captions were much more "absurd" and I didn't worry about offending anyone. As the audience grew, I changed my style to fit a wider demographic. Although this may have taken away from the classic WeRateDogs feel, it's turned into something new that everyone could enjoy.

Q: From dog submission to posting, how long does it take to craft your social messages? Do you schedule your posts or are they all on-the-beat?

I don't schedule anything. The posts can take anywhere from 30 seconds to several days sitting in my drafts folder. This solely depends on how easy to create a caption and whether the picture leans on the caption, or vice versa.

Q: How do you deal with the numerous mentions you get? Have you had to enlist any help?

I try to find time to see every mention. Liking people's comments shows that there's an actual person (or dog) behind the account that pays attention to what's being said. The only help I've had to enlist deals with handling submissions and running the eCommerce store.

Q: Do you get any negative feedback, and if so how do you deal with it?

We get plenty of negative feedback. I usually use these comments as an opportunity to get creative or further my brand’s stances. Usually, if I'm bombarded with negative feedback regarding one thing, responding to one person's negative comment stops any more from coming in.

Q: Do you find there's a difference in the way the audience reacts on the various channels you're on? Is Facebook more receptive than Instagram, for example?

All content displayed on Instagram and Facebook is just recycled content from the Twitter account. While it's cool to see the differences in how the audiences react, I don't base the success of a post on how well it does on Instagram or Facebook if I already know how people responded to it on Twitter, as that’s my main platform and where we receive the most reception.

Q: Did you ever really expect WeRateDogs to take off in the way it has?

Absolutely not.

Q: If you had to give a piece of advice to someone looking to take Twitter by storm, what would it be?

I don't really know how to answer this one. I wish there was a step by step guideline I could provide someone with the time and passion to do something like WeRateDogs, but there's just not. I devote my success to getting lucky with an original idea and sticking with it.

Q: Last question, what does it really take to be a good boy?

All dogs are automatically good from day one.

You can pre-order the #WeRateDogs book on Amazon here.

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