As the first 10 years of the 21st century draw to a close, one of the most successful social media tales of the decade is still peaking. It offers great lessons for anyone involved in this emerging communications space.
Eldon Nelson, 43, started his blog in 2005 as a way to share his tongue-in-cheek experiences riding his bike in an effort to lose weight. The Fat Cyclist became popular thanks to Nelson’s everyman approach to a subject to which many of us can relate. But, ironically, Nelson’s blog really took off after his wife was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Mixing equal parts humor, pathos and unabashed honesty, Nelson recounted his family’s long struggle with the disease in graphic detail.
After Nelson’s wife died in August 2009, traffic to his blog tripled.
Nelson has used the increasingly popularity of his blog to accomplish incredible good works. He helped form virtual teams of cyclists who raised more than $600,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. More recently, he inspired some 3,700 readers of his blog to donate more than $135,000 to LAF and World Bicycle Relief. The efforts earned Nelson a ride with Lance Armstrong and his new team.
Nelson’s formula presents a fantastic lesson for social media planners:
- Be honest…always
- Address subjects that people are passionate about
- Write with the everyday reader in mind
- Get your readers involved
- There are ways to measure success other than widgets sold
Happy holidays to Fatty and everyone out there.