The best of growth hacks: Oatmeal 

Oatmeal just performed one of the amazing growth hacks to promote his book.

Sergey Zelvenskiy
3 min readOct 30, 2013


I think this page should be studied in the universities and discussed in Malcolm Gladwell books:

Oct 28 2013 — Afternoon:

My publisher has been working with Barnes and Noble to create these “Oatmeal Islands” within their stores. Some of the tables say “New and Noteworthy,” and some have a sign I drew that says “The Oatmeal.” I’m trying to get a sense of how many used my fancy little sign and how many just put up the “New and Noteworthy” sign. If anyone is near a Barnes and Noble over the next few days, could you snap a photo along with posting the location of the store?

Also, if you pose in said photo, I will illustrate it. And because this is a bit of a chore for people to do, I imagine I’ll receive way fewer submissions, meaning your chances of actually getting drawn are pretty good. I’ll even draw babies, provided you are cool with me transforming your baby into some kind of reptilian pig hellspawn. I’ll be checking my wall for photo submissions over the next few days. -Oats

Yep, just little request to the fans, could you check how things are going in B&N with my book. Also, if you pose in said photo, I will illustrate it. Who does not want an selfie illustrated by The Oatmeal?

Oct 28 2013 — Evening:

So I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. There’s been a photo submission every two minutes for the past five hours and they don’t seem to be slowing down. I’m drawing in chronological order, so the first people who posted photos are the first ones to get drawn. I don’t think I’ll be able to get to everyone, but I’m going to do my best to draw everyone who posted in the first few hours today. Also, thanks to everyone who made a trip out to a Barnes and Noble. Looks like most of the B&N’s had my sign up and were promoting my books like crazy.

Oatmeal created a simple game, where the prize is a huge chunk of social currency — a selfie drawn by him. Something, which people would share and get likes going for for days. But with sharing the portraits, they also promote the book. I can bet, that the book will be off the shelf before I will get to B&N.

Lesson learned:
I think the right way to get people share your product is to make it about them. Put the people in the center and inject your product into sharable content about people. Then let the people do the work.