Celebrities aren’t the only influencers on social media. Enter the world of pet influencers – profiles of cute dogs, cats, hedgehogs and beyond with follower counts that rival their human celebrity counterparts. Like celebrities, these pet influencers can net serious cash for paid promotional posts; in 2017, the pop culture pup, Doug the Pug, had a net worth of $500,000. Adorable animals are one of the few areas of the internet with universal appeal. You might even follow a few photogenic animals on your own account.
With the attention these famous pets are getting, marketers are starting to recognize just how valuable they are. “Everyone loves them, they make people happy, so then people like the brands as well because the content is making them happy,” Pet talent agent Loni Edwards, founder of The Dog Agency, told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview.
Think your photogenic office pet has what it takes to become the next social media sensation? You’re barking up the right tree! We’ve assembled this quick guide to putting your pet on the path to social media stardom.
Get Ready for a Commitment
Before you create a social media page for your pet, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my pet okay with daily photoshoots?
- Am I ready to engage with my new followers, as well as the network of fellow Instagram pets?
- Do you have the patience to create consistent posts, even when you’re tired or creatively drained?
If you answered yes to all three questions, your furry companion could be well on their way to social media fame!
Though being a pet influencer may seem like fun and games, consistently creating quality content requires serious time and effort. In order to grow your social media presence, you’ll need to post at least five times per week, if not once per day. Some popular pet profiles post three times per day! Figure out what schedule works best for you and your audience and stick to it. Posting on a regular schedule helps to maintain your viewer base because your audience knows when to expect new content from you.
To help you post consistently, before you create your furry friend’s social media account, brainstorm as many content ideas as possible. You can look back on this brainstorm if you run into a creative block down the road. In your preliminary brainstorm, consider ideas such as seasonal posts and evergreen content. You can look to successful pet influencers for inspiration. Pushing yourself to constantly create unique posts can be challenging, but the best content is often created outside your comfort zone.
Pet Personality > Looks on Social Media
Sure, people love following a photogenic pooch, but there are millions of cute animals on social media. Generic shots of your adorable Labrador won’t make your pal famous. In order to become a successful pet profile, you’ll need to set your furry friend apart from the competition by showcasing their shining personality. Every animal has distinct characteristics that make them unique.
Does your cat have a naturally grumpy demeanor? Does your dog have a signature trick? Maybe your office’s hedgehog enjoys playing dress-up? Highlight the aspects of your animal friend that make them unique! Letting their personality shine is a surefire way to stand out from the sea of pet profiles on social media.
Once you’ve determined your pet’s personality, you’ll want to build a stable voice for the account. Is your Pomeranian a total diva? Or is your cat an intellectual? Creating a unique voice for your pet is part of the fun! You’ll use this voice to write captions and respond to comments. As a general rule of thumb, audiences tend to respond well to humor. After you’ve established your four-legged co-worker’s voice make sure it is consistent across all of their social media channels. Not quite sure how to start building a voice? This guide will help get you started.
Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags
There’s no shame in the hashtag game! Hashtags are often underutilized on Instagram, but they are a powerful tool for getting more eyes on your content. Many users include only a few hashtags per post, even though the platform allows up to 30. Though you’re not required to use all of them on each photo, we recommend using at least 11. That may seem like a lot, but finding relevant tags for your animal is simple. For example, if I were to make a new account for Office Greeter Effy, here’s how I would find popular hashtags:
- Open Instagram to the search page and click on the “tags” tab
- Search general terms that relate to your pet. Three Girls’ Office Greeter, Effy, is a pug mix. Searching “pug mix” in the tag tab it brings up these popular hashtags:
- Repeat the search for broad and narrow terms, i.e. “pet photography,” “small dog,” “dogs of -insert your location-,” etc. Using a combination of popular and niche tags will help increase your audience size.
- Once you’ve compiled a list of relevant hashtags, store them on your phone for easy access.
Bonus tip: Create your own branded hashtag so fans can easily find your content! All of Effy’s Instagram posts start with #EffySays. Use your branded tag consistently for best results.
If you think hashtags are unsightly, simply separate them from your caption with a few periods. Viola! You get the benefits of the hashtags without the visual clutter.
Network with Popular Social Media Pet Accounts
If you’re unfamiliar with the world of pet Instagram, you might not know about feature pages. Feature pages are accounts that repost content from pet Instagrammers. The most popular of these accounts are absolutely massive: feature page “dogs” has nearly 700k followers at the time of writing, while “pugs_of_instagram” has nearly a million. If you tag these featured accounts in your pictures, they might repost your photo for their followers. A feature on one of these pages could garner dozens (or hundreds!) of new followers for your office pet.
The process of finding these feature pages is similar to finding hashtags:
- Open Instagram search and click on the “people” tab.
- Search a specific category such as breed. For this example, we’ll search “pug.”
- The most popular accounts associated with that word will pop up. Click on a promising profile.
- Click the arrow next to the follow button and you’ll be presented with a list of similar pages. Inspect each profile before adding it to your list of approved feature pages.
As suggested with the relevant hashtags, keep the approved featured accounts in your phone for future use. Note that you can tag up to twenty accounts per photo.
Also like hashtags, you should strive to find a balance between popular and niche feature accounts. Of course, if a social media user with a million followers decided to repost your picture, your pup would gain massive exposure. However, the odds of being selected by a super popular user are slim. In order to increase your chances of being reposted, tag smaller accounts as well. There won’t be as much competition, so your company’s furry companion is more likely to end up on their page. No matter the size of the account, remember that any exposure has the potential to garner a larger audience.
Before you tag any feature page, make sure that the page credits the original account for their work! Less reputable pages will repost pictures with captions like “credit to the original photographer.” Avoid these accounts at all costs. There’s nothing worse than someone reposting your hard work without giving you the proper credit you deserve.
If you have anxiety about your content being stolen, a subtle watermark on your photos in a place where plagiarizers can’t crop it, like a small tag near your pet’s ear, is an easy solution. You don’t want the watermark to distract from the overall photo, but you do want to ensure that if your content is reposted without your permission, you’re still receiving credit for your work.
Making Money on with your Pet on Social Media
Running a successful social media page for your special co-worker is hard work, but if you consistently post quality content, you might be able to turn it into another source of income. Brands of all sorts are recognizing the potential of using pet influencers. Much like traditional influencer marketing, brands are willing to shell out big bucks for popular pets to promote their products. The most prolific pets have made hundreds of thousands of dollars through Instagram promotion. Who doesn’t dream of quitting their day job to be a social media influencer?
Once you’ve accumulated a few thousand social media followers, brands will start reaching out to your profile for promotions. At first, these promotions might be simple, like featuring a sponsored product in a photo. You probably won’t get paid, but you’ll get a free product out of the deal, build your office companion’s reputation and increase their following. As you gain more followers you can start charging for sponsored posts. You can learn more about sponsored content in this blog post. Some social media sensations have even gone on to be featured in advertising campaigns for big brands. With enough hard work and a little luck, that could be your pet representing your business!
As cliché as it may sound, the most important part of a successful pet Instagram is to have fun. After all, we’re talking about posting cute pictures of animals on the internet. Your office pal’s social media presence should be a celebration of their unique personality. Creating a pet Instagram is an opportunity to challenge yourself and bond with your furry friend. The followers are just a bonus!
Want to learn more about how to use social media for marketing? Check out these other blog posts from Three Girls, A Dog & Marketing Blog: