So You Want Your Pet To Be An Influencer: A Guide
About the Author
Hi! I'm Andie and I am a Marketing Coordinator here at Dealspotr. I work with influencers, write content for the Dealspotr blog page, and control all digital marketing for Dealspotr's social media sites.
One of the best things to come across when searching your Instagram feed is a photo of someone's pet. The cute faces, the funny head tilts, the unique quirks... animals are just too hard to scroll by without giving their photo a quick “like”. Given the large audience of social media users who love seeing animal photos, pets have been internet sensations for quite some time. They star in memes and GIFs, they have dedicated Facebook groups, and recently they have grown into some of the biggest online influencers. What is a pet influencer, you ask? Let's find out.
Pet influencers are famous animals that often make a lot of money by posting sponsored content online. Some have millions of followers, but to start earning fees for sponsored posts, your pet probably needs at least a few thousand followers and lots of engagement on each post. These influencers have branded themselves as a 'famous animal' for the creative photos they take, the styles and fashion they wear, or for their unique looks. In my opinion, Instagram is the best place to find a lot of great pet influencers. Using Instagram as a platform for your pet, there are a few ways to help make your pet become an influencer. Making your pet famous, however, is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of thought, time, and effort, and really only works if you do the rights things to promote your pet's brand.
What does a pet influencer look like?
Some of the biggest pet influencers right now are dogs, however there are plenty of other unique animals that have become famous on social media. They are all famous for different reasons, but their owners do a great job in branding them for their unique features, traits, habits, and spunk.
One large dog influencer on Instagram is 3bulldogges. They have many bulldogs (French and English) who are all incredibly photogenic. Their owners have branded them by dressing them up in costumes, as well as taking photos of their dogs surrounded by and immersed in food.
These photos keep the dogs relevant with holidays and worldly events, as well as makes them stand out from pet photos that are not as branded. Their owners do a good job of making the photos fun and interesting to really make these dogs look like they're making a statement.
Marnie the Dog
Other pet influencers take another approach, using their unique features as the key part of their fame. A great example of this is Marnie the Dog. Marnie has 2 million Instagram followers, devoted to seeing her adorable photos with her signature “tongue out” look. Her tongue makes her so funny, sweet, and unique, which makes her photos all branded due to her special features.
Marnie's owner does a great job capturing her in different settings, meeting different people, and doing different activities, all the while making sure her tongue is the center of attention. She is the sweetest 16 year old Shih Tzu who is known around the world for having such a fun face and unique look.
Pumpkin the Raccoon
Another large pet influencer on Instagram is neither known for their costumes nor unique features, rather, they are famous due to the kind of animal they are! Pumpkin the Raccoon is a famous raccoon who was rescued from the Bahamas. She has two dog siblings, but Pumpkin is the star of the show. Being such a unique pet, her fame comes from her interesting photos and the constant intrigue of what a pet raccoon is like.
Pumpkin eats, sleeps, and plays like her siblings do, and her owner captures just how “normal” she is as a house pet. While her photos and activities are nothing particularly special, Pumpkin is clearly famous for being such a special type of pet who seems to thrive in a dog-filled household.
Now, if you're wondering how pets like Marnie and Pumpkin become famous, take a deeper look into what it takes to turn your pet into an influencer.
How do pets become influencers?
Lots of work.
Making your pet an influencer is not as easy as posting cute photos of your dog or cat eating peanut butter. Pet owners put a lot of time and effort into creating a unique pet profile, as well as capturing fun photos and interesting content to share with viewers. Here are 8 points to remember when trying to turn your pet into an influencer:
- Pick a theme
- Build a fan base
- Take good quality photos
- Post regularly
- Invest time
- Be creative and unique
- Use the right hashtags
- Ask for features
Pick a theme
Some of the examples above (3bulldogges, Marnie the Dog, and Pumpkin the Raccoon) have their own theme. The bulldogs are branded with costumes and food, Marnie is branded with her unique features, and Pumpkin is branded by her unique species of house pet. There a few other themes you an pick for your pet, depending on what their features or behaviors are.
One example of a themed pet influencer is Grumpy Cat. This cat has become one of the most famous pet influencers, making her owner a lot of money from merchandise, memes, and sponsors using her grumpy face.
Grumpy Cat has a (cat)titude, and her “I don't care about anything” mood is what makes her so famous. Her brand has grown into a cat empire, where you can find her face on clothing, in books, movies, games, plush toys... the list goes on.
Another theme pet influencers embody is becoming a fashionable pet. Iggy Joey is a fashion-icon, wearing amazing outfits and showing off her slim figure and gorgeous style. Her owner has branded her as a chic dog with great fashion sense, and has since turned her into a legit dog model.
Iggy is highly photogenic and unbelievably good looking, so her cute face has only lended to her rise to fame.
Build a fan base
After you've picked a theme for your pet, you need to start building a fan base to follow your future star. To do this, you want to make sure you follow other pet influencers and normal pet Instagram accounts alike, so that all of your furry friends can help boost your engagement.
If your pet is a dog, you should likely follow a lot of other dog accounts to help build a community of followers that are interested in your content. If your pet is a cat, again, you should follow a lot of other cat profiles. When you build this following, you know you have users that are genuinely interested in what you post, since they have a similar pet or profile as you do.
I made an Instagram account for my sweet pup, Pablo the Dapple Dachshund, and he follows a lot of other dachshund profiles which helped him gain his own following of dachshund influencers who appreciate his photos and can relate to his posts. Having this following is an essential way to start building your fan-base and growing your pet's Instagram into an influencer page. (I'm working on it, Pablo!)
Take good quality photos
In order to get the engagement you need to build an influencer profile, you have to post good quality photos. iPhones have a lot of new capabilities which makes it easier to do this without buying an expensive camera.
One great tip for taking photos of your pet, is to use the iPhone burst feature. Burst photos take a lot of photos all in a row, capturing every small movement your pet might make. By using the burst feature, you can capture a great photo even if you pet can't sit still, because you can sort through the burst to pick your favorite image.
Another great way to capture your pet at his or her best using an iPhone is to use “live photos.” These photos look like very short videos, but allow you to pick your favorite shot from that short clip to save as a photo. Both burst images and live photos are really great ways to get the perfect shot of your pet in motion, if they aren't great at sitting still for photoshoots!
Jiff Pom on Instagram has a great feed, where every photo is professional, clear, sharpened, and bright. These photos make her brand stick out for being well-done and professional, versus amateur and less engaging.
You can reach more people by having stand-out photos, and even attract the attention of brands and talent scouts by having quality photography. Using your iPhone is a great place to start, but you can also consider getting the best equipment for your style of photography if you want to take your pet's photos to the next level.
To keep your audience's attention, you have to be ready to post often. This doesn't mean you need multiple photos in one day, but sometimes posting once a day is what it will take. This is what takes a lot of time and effort from the pet owner - you have to be prepared to set the stage for your pet's photos and capture the right moment multiple times a week in order to keep and/or grow engagement on your pet's posts.
There are a lot of platforms that can help you post your photos in a scheduled time or set date if you aren't able to post new photos every day. You can perhaps do one or two pet photoshoots over the weekend, and then prepare a few pieces of content to sporadically post throughout the week. Whatever works best for you to keep your audience entertained!
As previously stated, running your famous pet's Instagram or social channels takes a lot of work. You not only have to think of the different photos you want to capture, but you then have to set the stage, dress your pet if need be, capture the moment (which takes a while for pets that don't sit still!), pick the right photo, edit it, write the caption, pick the best hashtags, and then post. Whew! That's quite the task every time you post a new photo!
Most large pet influencers have owners who either spend a lot of time or all of their time preparing and taking these photos. Having a famous pet doesn't come easily, so it may take a full-time commitment to really make things happen. Even when your pet has grow large enough to where you're making money from their posts, it remains a tough task to grow your network and maintain a following with quality posts and unique ideas.
Be creative and unique
While this has been touched on before, it's important to stress how unique your pet's social media pages should be. This comes in to play from step one: choosing a theme. If your dog is the cutest dog ever and you want to make him famous, it may be harder than you think. You have to make that cute dog unique and special in order for him to stand out.
Tuna is a dog who isn't famous for his beauty, rather, for he's famous for his “ugly” overbite and hilariously cute faces. Tuna's owner found something unique about him, and used that to her advantage when branding her dog. It doesn't always just take the cutest cat or fluffiest dog to become famous. Try to stand out and think outside the box when it comes to your branding!
Use the right hashtags
When posting your pet's content, you want to catch the attention of different niches of Instagram users. Using the right hashtags is a great way to do this. Instead of using #dog and #cute on all of your posts, try finding some tags that aren't over-used where your post can stand out.
To find these happy medium hashtags, you have to look beyond the most obvious and popular searches. For instance, when you click on the search #food, Instagram suggests “related” hashtags that are similar to #food which may be of interest to you. This is where you'll find tags with a few thousand posts instead of a few million, letting your content stand out. Some examples of these tags for your pet could be #doggos and #dogpics which aren't too saturated. Here's a more complete guide to help you find better Instagram hashtags for your social posts.
You also want to make sure you're diversifying the hashtags you use on your posts. Instagram has a 30 hashtag limit per post, but you don't want to copy-paste the same 30 dog-related hashtags on every photo because you can be flagged as spam and get shadow banned from Instagram.
To avoid this, it’s recommended that you only use related hashtags to your post, and make the tags relevant and unique to each photo or video. Using a mix of both popular and less used hashtags is the best way to go about diversifying your content. Keep reading to find out which hashtags to use, and how to find them.
Finding a hashtag to brand your pet is also a great way to grow your following and stand out in the crowd. By this, I mean making a catch phrase or unique tag for your pet specifically. Lil Bub, an adorable cat influencer on Instagram, has branded her page by using unique hashtags such as #lilbub, #bubislove, and #iamlilbub. These make her photos populate in their own tag on Instagram, as well as help brand her as a unique cat.
Ask for features and sponsors
Lastly, once your pet has grown his or her influence and following, you will want to ask for features on pet pages. A feature means another Instagram page or website posts a photo of your pet onto their page and tags your profile so users can go follow you if they like the photo. This will help you gain an even bigger following and get your influencer brand in front of a wider public.
One way to do this, is using Dealspotr! If your pet is an aspiring influencer (or already is one) you can make them an account on Dealspotr, connect all of their social media accounts, and search through the Marketplace for brands and products you and your pet would love. You then review these products and get paid by creating sponsored content for different brands and merchants.
Once you find products you're interested in, you just have to apply to the live campaign and send the merchant a brief message about you (your pet) and your personal brand. Reviewing these products is a great way to make money and get free products for things you and your pet love using. You can even review multiple products in one roundup blog post, and make even more money from all the merchants you're working with.
Pet influencers with thousands of followers tend to earn their owners a lot of money by creating these kinds of sponsored posts for different brands. These don't have to be just pet brands, but any brand that thinks their product can benefit from the following of a pet influencer. A good example of these sponsored posts can be seen below with Waffles the Cat. She partnered with Pet Armor to promote flea and tick prevention medicine, and all she had to do was post a photo with the product on Instagram and tag the brand in her post.
You can also use Instagram to sell products using the new “Instagram Shopping” links, which can be very helpful for your sponsored posts! These kinds of posts can get your pet (or rather, you) a lot of money when you partner with bigger brands and have multiple sponsors at once given time.
Time to get started
Making your pet an influencer isn't for everybody, so make sure you're committed to branding your pet and spending a lot of time working on their networking. Having marketing skills or photography skills prior to starting this endeavor would certainly help you in the long run. Now that you've learned some of the basics, it's time to get things started! Pick a unique theme, get those photos taken and post, post, post!