The Oatmeal & Nikola Tesla

The Oatmeal is a popular web comic series developed by Matthew Inman of Seattle that covers topics ranging from everyday problems like grocery shopping when hungry, to a heart tugging editorial extolling the lovable weirdness of the family dog.


One thing that the Oatmeal gets right is their savvy use of Social Media for promotion.  Although Mr. Inman has been critical of social media sites and some of the surreptitious practices of social media promotion, he effectively uses social media channels such as Facebook (917,775 likes) and Twitter (366,151 followers) to promote his web comics and causes he finds worthy. 

Last August, Mr Inman used his web comic and social media channels to help a non profit organization purchase the Nikola Tesla laboratories in Shoreham, NY.  The campaign was amazingly successful, and employed a 3 prong approach to build awareness.

The Oatmeal had already created a Nikola Tesla cartoon praising Tesla’s contributions to science and technology.Nikola

  1. On July 31, the Oatmeal posted a preliminary post to his Facebook page asking if he should start a campaign to raise awareness. This initial post drew over 10,325 likes.
  2. Next, Inman created a page outlining the goals of the campaign, and why it was a worthy cause.  Inman used his site to host a Kickstarter like campaign, using Indiegogo to collect donations.  The page was eventually updated with Kickstarter type rewards for increasing levels of contribution.
  3. Finally, Inman leveraged the power of the Oatmeal’s fan base through Twitter and Facebook.

The response was overwhelming, and Inman ended up raising $1.37 million for the museum – far exceeding their $850K goal.  What I liked about this campaign was that it married high quality content, to drive awareness of a cause that the creator felt strongly about – it was totally authentic.  TIL that Social Media can buy a museum.

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Filed under 2013 - Post 1, Uncategorized

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