If you’re familiar with social media superstar pets that have millions of followers – famous pets like Tuna, Earl, or even Grumpy Cat – you might be thinking that your pooch deserves attention as well and is cute enough to gain a following. If you wonder how you go about turning your dog into a social media superstar, here's a step by step process.
Step 1: Your Pet's Social Media Account(s)
The first step in making your pet a social media superstar is to set up a social media account that is specifically for your pet. Branding is important, so don’t use your old accounts.
You have the option of choosing one social media platform that you prefer to use or you can set up a social media account on various social media platforms to see which one takes off quicker, or is more well-suited for you and your pup.
We recommend setting up an account on every social media platform even if you’re only going to use one platform for posting simply because it stops others from capitalizing on your success later on by setting up an account under your pet’s name on social media networks other than the one you use.
There are various social network platforms that you can use to showcase your pet and each social network has its own benefit. The three most used social networks by pet stars are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all of which provide desktop access and mobile apps to make posting on the go fast and easy. But which one is best for what?
Twitter – Twitter is one of the easier social media platforms to utilize and one of the easiest platforms to gain followers through. Twitter relies greatly on text and visual stimuli and the use of targeted hashtags. However, there's less and less engagement going on on Twitter and more people are moving towards Instagram now, and use Twitter to promote their Instagram posts.
Facebook – Facebook is a harder social media platform to gain new followers on, especially now as Facebook has been changing a ton of their rules after recent privacy issue events. However, it's one of the better platforms if you want to have your content shared by your followers and it allows most versatility. Facebook users regularly share content they see on their Facebook news feed with friends who then share that same content with their friends. Facebook is very much a visual network and relies on picture content, comments and captions, and to a much lesser degree than Twitter, hashtags.
Instagram – Today it's easily the most popular platform for pet social media stars. Instagram is completely image based but users combine their images with captions and hashtags. Hashtags on Instagram are as influential as they are on Twitter and serve to attract new followers. If your dog is photogenic and you're into taking a ton of pictures of your pup, this is by far the best social platform for you to start with and focus on the most.
Step 2: Username Is Your Brand
The success and popularity of your pet on social media will largely depend on how good you are at branding. When setting up your pet’s social media accounts, put time and effort into coming up with a username that’s both memorable and brand-able.
Similar to choosing a company name, your pet’s social media username will play a significant role in the future of their “fame” and how recognizable they become. When choosing your pet’s social media username consider other pet social media stars and their social media usernames. What is it about those names that make each pet memorable?
Tuna (of @tunameltsmyheart) is a particularly memorable name because it’s unique and silly, but it’s also short enough to be brandable and is easily remembered.
Grumpy Cat (of @realgrumpycat) is a longer username, but it’s memorable because it’s simple, funny, and accurately describes the characteristic that makes the pet and and the theme of most photos and posts stand out.
Earl the Grump (of @earlthegrump) is a slightly different approach to picking a username as it plays on the character of Grumpy Cat who preceded Earl. We don’t recommend using a name like this that seems to “rip off” another popular social media pet not only because it may lead to a legal battle, but also because it can start off your pet’s social media career in bad blood and will be harder to brand. Fans of the original namesake will automatically shun your pet simply because it seems as though they are “riding the coattails” of the original namesake, and it'll be less memorable because people already associate “grump(y)” with the original Grumpy Cat.
In addition to considering what makes your future pet social media superstar official name memorable and brandable, you should also consider the following criteria when choosing your pet’s social media username:
- Can the name you choose be easily misspelled or is it something that everyone can spell easily?
- Is a dot-com domain name available for the name you choose? If not, consider another name to avoid confusion.
- Is the name you choose easily misinterpreted? For example, see these domain names that became unintentionally inappropriate. If so, keep searching.
- Does your name have something to do with your pet or what makes them unique? Make sure that the username you select is relevant to your dog, your pup's unique characteristics or talents, or how it will reflect the theme of your photos/posts.
- Does the name you are considering infringe on any trademarks or copyrights?
- Is the name you choose spelled correctly and does it make sense? If you choose a name that is in a language you are not fluent in or are unsure of the meaning of a word you want to use, have someone else proof it for you.
Thinking ahead of time and planning the future success of your pet's social media success will save a lot of hassle and regret once your following starts building up.
Step 3: Prepare Before You Start Sharing
Speaking of preparation and planning, before you start posting on your social media network accounts, make sure that you are ready. Other than planning for the best username and brand, there are more than a few other things that you need to do to be sure that you are prepared to continue posting on your pet’s social media accounts without the momentum slowing down.
These things include:
- Take plenty of instagram-ready photographs and videos that showcase your pet and highlight what makes them unique.
- If you intend on building a brand, come up with a logo and tagline that will make your pet’s profile more recognizable and help you two stand out.
- Again, if you intend on building a brand, consider trademarking and copyrighting any necessary material.
- Have a plan. What type of pictures or information will you be promoting on your account? Will it be your pet, or your pet's dog food photography? What is your plan? Do you have a posting schedule set out? What do you intend to gain from setting up this account? You cannot possibly know how to get to where you are going when you don’t know where you are going.
- Come up with or have a designer come up with a graphic design for your social media profile picture and header banner that stands out, are professional in design and are easily recognizable, associated with you and your pet.
- If you intend on running a website as well as maintaining an active social media account, make sure that your website is well designed and fully functional before you begin advertising it through your social media accounts.
Some of the above things might be optional, but the more you can prepare and plan ahead, the higher your chances of turning your pooch into a social media superstar quicker than someone who comes at it without any plan.
Step 4: Know What Makes Your Pet Stand Out
Once you start posting to and publicizing your pet’s social media profile and/or website, focus on what makes your dog stand out. In order to be recognized, your pet should offer something unique, something memorable, and something that “hooks” your followers and makes them want to follow you.
Some examples of this include:
- Grumpy Cat who is recognized for his constant grumpy expression which makes him unique in appearance and very relate-able and thus memorable.
- Tuna who is recognized for his adorable overbite, unique expression, and the reference to a speech impediment he would undoubtedly have if he were human.
Not sure what makes your pet stand out? Here are some things to consider:
- Does your pet have a unique physical characteristic?
- Does your pet have a strange talent?
- Does your pet behave uniquely?
- Does your pet excel in a particular field such as dock diving?
- Has your pet overcome extreme adversity?
Every pet is unique but it’s up to you to identify which unique characteristic makes them most appealing and most memorable to social media fans, and then bring those parts of your pup into attention through posts and photographs.
Step 5: Post to Your Social Networks Regularly
Once you have worked through the four steps above and have a direction in mind for your pet’s social media profile, it’s time to start posting. Before you do, figure out what your goal here is. In majority of cases, the goal is to gain subscribers/followers/fans.
Ask yourself, what makes people “follow” your social media accounts rather than just glance through them and then leave, never to return?
Regular posts that they don't want to miss.
When posting to your pet’s social media network (and website) it’s important to post regularly and to maintain some type of schedule so that followers know when to expect new posts so that they will return often. Also, because you post something regularly and they don't want to miss your next post or photo, they are more likely to subscribe. If you don't post regularly, they're likely to assume that you may have abandoned the account or don't care as much, thus they are less likely to “follow”.
When you do post to your social networks, be sure that what you post holds some significance or appeal, maintains the intended tone of your and/or your pet's personality, and always be sure to carefully proofread what you share to avoid embarrassing mistakes, revealing personal information, or misspeaking and offending your loyal followers. Your photographs and/or posts should offer something to people who expect them, whether it's a laugh, a story, a tear-jerker… anything.
Step 6: Follow Other Social Media Users
As you begin posting on your pet’s social media accounts, make an effort to follow other social media users. Don’t simply follow the celebrity accounts either. Search for accounts that have something in common with yours and follow them whether they have twenty followers or twenty thousand followers. Your success on social media has everything to do with building relationships and reciprocity, so the sooner you start, the better.
As your social network grows larger, you may become one of those “celebrity accounts”. If this does happen for you, be sure not to forget the “little guys” who helped you to flourish and pay it forward by supporting other “little guys” who aim to follow in your footsteps. Social media stardom is full of ups and downs, and when you're up, you can help lift others, and then when you're down, others will help and lift you up. Building that network around yourself will only benefit everybody around.
Make an effort to seek out people in similar positions like yourself, who are starting out with passion and planning to turn their pets into social media superstars. When you follow other accounts, don’t just follow them and stay silent and don’t simply spam them with your content. Recognize them for their contributions, comment on their social media posts, support their accounts by sharing them with your followers, and just be a good social media citizen. The same will be returned to you.
Step 7: Use Hashtags and Use Them Properly
One of the most important parts of using social media accounts is knowing how to use hashtags. Hashtags are keywords that social media followers follow because of an interest in that topic. For example, #DogsofTwitter recognizes dogs and their owners who are active on Twitter, so using this hashtag makes sure that your tweet is seen by Twitter users who follow this topic hashtag.
When you first start using hashtags it can be confusing to know what hashtags are active and which are not. The best way to determine this is to use the search function of your social media platform to search that hashtag and see how regularly that hashtag is used. Also, study other people's social media skills and how they use hashtags effectively rather than haphazardly.
It’s also crucial that when you do post to your social media accounts using hashtags, you don’t overuse hashtags. Overusing hashtags is akin to spamming and it can cause your original message to be lost or be shown to people who have no interest in your posts. Limit your social media posts to two or three hashtags that are most relevant to your post to avoid annoying your followers, and to ensure that only people whom you want to see your posts will see your posts – that way increasing the chance of gaining more followers.
Step 8: Marketing Agencies, Influencer Networks
If after a short while of being active on your pet’s social media account and/or website, you decide that you want to really dedicate time to make your pet a social media star, consider looking into professional marketing agencies and influencer networks to further boost your efforts and increase your exposure.
Marketing agencies like #Paid can be a good resource for taking your pet’s social media profile to the next level but it will cost you extra money. These agencies share tips and leads with followers that can help you to get your foot in the door in a variety of niches and product markets. These agencies also often have links to influencer networks and should you become a part of one of those networks you will be presented with even more opportunities to speak out to a large audience for social issues, brands, products, and more.
Do you need to use marketing agencies and influencer networks? No, it's not essential at all. These services do not offer anything that you can't achieve yourself. So only use them if you'd prefer to save time or speed up the process a little and have the extra cash to spend. Otherwise, you can do it all by yourself, organically, with just a little more patience, time and dedication.