Posted 6 months ago ago
Chances are, if you have a dog, you’ve posted at least one photo of them to social media somewhere, writes Jenny Stallard. It might have been a puppy pic on Facebook or, like me, you might have started an Instagram account before your dog even came home. (Yes, really, I was keen, what can I say?).
Of course, the aim of getting a DD is not to just plaster its paws all over the internet. But with social media playing such a large part in our lives now, it’s perhaps inevitable that you might have thought about trying to make your dog an influencer, or at least getting them a following of some kind on social media. You might well have dreams of brand collaborations, a house full of free dog food and worldwide fame or free stays in dog-friendly hotels in return for a social media review, or even a spot on a chat show sofa.
There are plenty of dogs who are already doing just that. Take Tika the Iggy, for example - an Italian Greyhound who has coined the catchphrase ‘Love it… couldn’t wear it!’ while talking about outfits that didn’t get an ‘outing’ due to lockdown.
While you might have some way to go before you can claim the million followers Tika has on Instagram, there are lots of steps you can take to begin your pet’s influencer journey. We spoke to those in the know to get their advice.
Look at what other dogs are up to
First things first, follow dogs that you want to have follow you back and who can inspire you with their content.
Plan your content seriously
Jamie Klingler owns McNulty, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who has 1,000 followers on Twitter @McNultypup and has been in adverts for high-end brands such as Coach as well as invited to events and featured on Sky News alongside Kay Burley.
Jamie advises: “If they really want to tackle the market, people should make content schedules and actively pursue other pet groups. Regularly liking the famous pets of the same breed, and charities like Dog’s Trust. You need to treat the dog like a client – have regular interaction with other accounts and post weekly at least.”
McNulty modelling on a Made.com Dogs Trust sofa (Jamie Klinger)
Choose your social media…
Nicole Russin-McFarland runs the accounts @russindogs and @russincats which have featured her dearly departed dogs Scottie and Misha as well as cats, and now focus on her dog Isla, a Rat Terrier who is around 13. Nicole’s top tip to getting started is simply opening social media accounts and sharing natural content. “Easy!” she says. “Post photos of your dog being a dog. Nothing odd or staged. Befriend other Insta dogs on social media.”
That also means you need to decide if you’ll have an Instadog, Twitterdog, or TikTok dog (or all three!) then set about starting an account. Choose your username carefully – this could be the one on billboards and TV! And remember the process of uploading and commenting and sharing is time consuming, so make sure the platform is one you like using.
Use your other accounts
Nicole says don’t be afraid to cross-post, including to your personal account if you want to. “If you have other pets like cats or birds, definitely post your dog on those accounts,” she says. “Have your dog ’steal’ the other pet account every week or so. Never under-estimate posting your pet on your personal or business social media feeds. People love pets. Again, it’s crossing into a larger audience! Isla has tried out a doggy shampoo as part of her influencer journey and modelled coats and knits, too."
Isla as a shampoo model
Use hashtags on Insta
Michelle Burgess oversees her dog Sandy’s account @scruffylittleterrier on Instagram with more than 8,000 followers, as well as running the website scruffylittleterrier.com. Michelle says hashtags are key – you can use up to 30 on an Instagram post. “Find relevant hashtags to the photo but also to the breed of your dog and use the full 30 for maximum exposure - there’s so many to choose from!”
You can always tag other animals and brands, too. Getting their attention could lead to a re-tweet, re-post or even going viral.
Use video and be yourself in the vids, too!
Michelle says: “Reels or Stories are great for dogs. Add fun music too, use polls and questions. Document your day - people love seeing dogs in baths after a walk, for example. Have fun, be natural. People love to see real life and relate to it more, like muddy dogs.”
What about brand collaborations?
And what if you want to be a full-on influencer, with brands asking you to feature them and collaborations on the cards? Michelle says start by talking about products you use for your dogs that you have bought - people love to see how things work, especially for their dogs, then engage with brands you love too. Reach out to other doggy influencers and see if they want to collaborate with you.
Michelle Burgess of Scruffy Little Terrier
But watch out for cheeky brand behaviour…
Nicole has a warning when it comes to collaborations: “Insta pets should never have to pay to model anything. That is the biggest scam right now. Pet owners agree because they feel special being approached. No. Don’t do it.”
Clothes and outfits
OK, so there are loads of doggy influencers – Tika the Iggy is a classic example – who are famous for wearing fab clothes. Is that the route to influencer success? It’s part of it, says Michelle. “Stand out with quirky, fun photos, dogs wearing clothes (there’s a great #dogswearinghats hashtag for example) - without of course causing distress to your dog.”
Be true to you
The most important thing to remember is not to make your DD someone they’re not. If your dog isn’t the dressing-up type, then don’t force things. Likewise if they don’t want to spend their entire walk being ‘papped’ for Insta. Work with the type of dog you have, making sure they’re happy and enjoying anything you do. Remember, at the end of the day, they’re just a dog who wants to have fun with you!