Animal Influencers and the Rise of Pet Instagram

For thousands of years, humans have been domesticating and training animals to keep as their loyal companions. From Egyptian times to the present day, pets have been held in high regard–whether their purpose was for particular behaviors and temperaments or simply an aesthetically pleasing, furry partner. As humanity has advanced into the digital age, so have the way that we display our pets. While old-age Europeans would commission portraits of their dogs in different surroundings, new-age audiences are turning their pets into their very own social media stars through hashtags like #dogsofinstagram.

The History of Animal Influence

While the concept of “cuteness” is abstract and differs from person to person, animals and pets have a particular connection to the word. It’s very common to hear someone talk about a funny thing their dog did, or an adorable pose that their cat made earlier in the day. Most people have a soft spot for “cute” content, and pets fill that niche. As social media took a larger part in our daily lives, pet owners began sharing images and videos of their animals across platforms such as Instagram and Facebook–to the joy and annoyance of many users. Where some users value cute pictures of animals on their scrolling feeds, some users would rather not see seven pictures of someone’s dog splash across their Instagram page. As social media becomes more specialized, so do the ways that people treat their furry friends. Instead of bombarding private accounts with pictures of pets, owners simply made another profile for their own content. In most cases, the Instagram your friend made for their pet parrot won’t amass that many followers. However, in some cases–they do.

As pet Instagrams gain more followers and people start to recognize the animal star, a transformation happens. The pet turns from the star of an Instagram profile into an online influencer–complete with dedicated and engaged audiences. 

What are Animal Influencers?

From the viral popularity of animals such as Grumpy Cat to the scenic beauty of accounts like Adventure Cats, pets are quickly becoming some of the world’s favorite social media stars. The most popular pet influencers have millions of followers who are almost immediately recognizable–due to their prominence on social media, their striking (or unusual) appearance, or both. Because these animals retain such an iconic image, brands and advertisers find opportunities to partner with popular pet influencers to showcase their products to a dedicated audience of animal lovers. 

In recent years, pet influencers have been featured in media campaigns, on-screen appearances, music videos, etc. for brands like Purina, PetSmart and more. As the pet influencer industry continues to grow, more businesses are turning towards animals as their specialty. The Dog Agency is a prime example. With a top notch roster of dog influencers that each have individual appearances, tones and brands, The Dog Agency acts as a talent management group for dogs and their owners. The agency helps pet influencers find partnerships and sponsorships with brands and advertisers–resulting in creative collaborations that cater to the personality of each animal. 

What Can We Learn from Pet Influencers?

According to professionals, it takes more than just a photogenic pet to get the engagement and community that make for an ideal animal influencer. The pet must have an established brand. Just like with human influencers, pet influencers are respected because of their authenticity and transparency with their audiences. Animals cannot operate social media, but the owners that create their profiles also create the personalities that embody their Instagram captions. The key is consistency in their messaging.

Brands and advertisers looking to partner with animal influencers have a couple things to keep in mind: 

Find Partnerships with Authentic (Pet) Influencers.

Similar to the process of finding the right influencer to work with, brands and advertisers must focus on the image presented by their animals to find the right pet influencer to work with. Are they creating original content? Do they have high engagement on their posts? Do they have consistent messaging? The more established a pet influencer is to its brand, the more likely that an influencer partnership will reach its desired audience. When it comes to pet influencers, brands do not have to worry about misbehavior or outbursts like they might with human influencers–but they do have to determine the authenticity of their owners. While many pet influencer owners just want to love on their pets, some push the boundaries of their animals to force an influence. This is not only dangerous to the pets themselves, but to the authenticity of the pet’s influencer persona. It’s important for brands and advertisers to properly vet the owners of the pet influencers they want to partner with in order to find the true motives behind their influential status.

Consistency is Key.

Just as there are different niches of human influencers, there are different types of animal influencers. While some pet Instagrams focus on outdoor activities like hiking or dog parks, others are focused on food blogging, fashion and luxury cars. The different niches allow many types of pet influencer to flourish in the influencer marketing industry. If your pet’s brand is about fashion, you might want to partner with brands that enhance your pet’s original messaging. The result can be a meaningful partnership between brands, pets, owners and consumers that mutually benefits all parties by elevating their online persona to new heights. 

As the influencer industry continues to grow, so do the different types of influencers that brands and advertisers encounter. In order to create meaningful partnerships, brands must find consistency and authenticity in their influencers. With the rise of pet Instagrams and pet influencers, brands are given more opportunities to find the right influencer for their brand–whether they’re human or not. 

Maria Lewczyk

Maria Lewczyk

Maria Lewczyk is the PR and Content Specialist at Sideqik. As a digital media maverick, Maria has years of experience in copywriting, publicity, social media, branding strategy, marketing and advertising. As a creative professional, Maria likes to use storytelling to help brands communicate their message and connect to people on a deeper level.

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