Before we get into the “hows” of becoming a pet influencer, it’s worth taking a moment to examine the “whys.” Not everyone who manages an account for their furry friend is chasing fame — sometimes it just happens.
We spoke with Laura, one of the humans behind the Mister Fishtopher and Friends Instagram account, who became pet influencers purely by accident.
i swear to god. if one of you doesn’t go get fishtopher…https://t.co/fpr71yOUL2 pic.twitter.com/k6lLRoquCg— Molly Clarke (@mollyaclarke) November 24, 2022
After they saw the viral tweet about Fishtopher languishing at a New Jersey shelter, Laura and their partner were successful in adopting Fishtopher (AKA Fish). Because of his “origin story,” Fish came with a built-in audience.
“The main reason we ever made Fishtopher his own accounts was because so many people asked for it!” Laura says.
They now have almost 185,000 followers between Instagram and Twitter.
Part of the account’s charm, beyond witnessing Fishtopher recuperate from shelter life, is that it’s able to bring awareness to feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
to be loved is to be changed pic.twitter.com/04n9fKjdAq— Fishtopher and Friends (@mrfishtopher) February 22, 2023
While you likely won’t stumble into a life of influencing like Fishtopher’s humans did, here are some simple strategies to help y turn your pet into an online sensation.
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1. Take a personality test
Start by considering what personality your pet has, and what they can handle.
Some pets are more easy-going, while others will try to rip your face off if you try to touch their belly. You already know what makes your pet unique, and your Instagram account should simply highlight those qualities.
Match the tone of your Instagram account to your pet’s personality.
Here are some Instagram “best practices” that will help people find you:
- Start your account and decide on the voice your pet should use
- Read Instagram’s Recommendations
- Look up keywords or search terms that are popular with your future audience, and accounts similar to yours
- Write a bio that encapsulates the theme of your account, and that contains a few of those keywords
- Get used to writing “alt text” for your posts. According to Hootsuite, not only is alt text searchable, but it also makes your posts more accessible
- Follow, and engage with, similar accounts to yours
Laura warns that running their pets’ social accounts is like having another, mostly unpaid, full-time job.
“The social media aspect is a lot harder and more time-consuming than I think people realize,” says Laura. “Creating new, interesting, and unique posts (almost) every day requires dedication and effort. Not all attention is good attention, and there can be negative comments, or just negative pressure to post or act a certain way that can be harmful if left unchecked.”
2. Feed the algorithm
Most successful social media accounts put into practice an understanding of how both keywords and algorithms work.
Once your Instagram account is up and running, it’s time to:
- Find the right times of day to post
- Find the most popular hashtags and use them on your posts — this will help new people find you
- Engage with your followers, by replying promptly to their comments and DMs, and if you’re comfortable on video, you can also host “Lives”, which allow you to connect with your audience in real time
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3. Focus on strategy
Once your follower numbers have started to grow, you’ll need to constantly measure specific aspects of your social media account and make adjustments to your content based on the data.
“To make a career out of social media, you need a lot of dedication and consistency,” says Laura.
“Algorithm-based feeds are the most popular, so you have to post in a way that makes the algorithm favor your content, as well as researching current trends and your own [followers’] demographics to find optimal posting times.”
If you’re not sure where to start, check out this helpful guide from Hootsuite on how to track your account’s metrics.
4. Don’t bet the farm
If you’ve gotten into “pet influencing” to become an overnight success, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
According to InfluencerMarketingHub, as a basic rule, you’ll earn $100 per post for every 10,000 followers.
“Honestly, we haven't gotten much money for ourselves,” says Laura. “We did one collaboration with a cat tree company and received about $80 from that, in addition to free products. We also did a promo video for an automatic litter box and received a free box and a commission link.”
There is no guarantee as to when you’ll reach a certain number of followers, but as with any freelance gig, it may depend on how hard you hustle.
A final word
According to Vox, the “right” reason for getting into pet influencing is simple: Wanting to spend more time with your pet.
“I think Fish and Lover have no idea what I do … ” Laura says. “Sitting them down with treats to take pictures has turned into a bonding time for us, one I like to think we all enjoy.”
If you’d be shoehorning your pet into a lifestyle they’d hate, being an influencer is probably the wrong path.
But if your pet does love being dressed up like a pumpkin, it may be worth a shot — just make sure to send us the link.
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