Petfluencers Make Your Pet InstaFamous

by Martha Michael

Selfies aren’t the only attention-getting photos on Instagram. Animal owners love to post pictures of their pets and they seem to be eclipsing the popularity of human accounts, according to an article in Forbes Magazine.

You may not be showing off Fido for marketing purposes, but some people are, and with success. Instastars such as Hamlet the Pig are pulling in endorsement money exceeding $2,000 per post. If you ever bought a “grumpy cat” T-shirt or coffee mug, it was a victory for Tartar Sauce, the feline that inspired the campaign about eight years ago.

The Forbes article offers several suggestions for making your pet more Instagram famous, if it’s one of your goals this year:

  • Tell a unique story
  • Be consistent
  • Make your post stand out with third-party apps
  • Choose the best hashtags
  • Get featured with tags and DMs

If you follow any petfluencers on Instagram, you can see how creative the posts are. For instance, in December there was a public service announcement (PSA) from Dobby the Fox at Animal Tracks, a sanctuary for wild animals in Agua Dulce, Calif. His handler posted a self-care video where she massages Dobby’s face, which makes him so relaxed he closes his eyes. Then the caretaker continues, “It’s so important during the holidays,” as viewers watch her hands circle his eyes and ears and check his teeth.

“I decided a couple of years ago to start an Instagram page for him and see how it would do,” explained Alyson Rousseau, Animal Tracks assistant director & manager of operations. “He’s the only one at Animal Tracks that currently has an Instagram page. We are all pretty shocked at how well it’s doing although, admittedly, I always ask new visitors to follow his page. Surprisingly, we get a lot of visitors that say they’ve come because of his page! … He’s pretty darn cute and irresistible!”

L.A. marketing agency Mediakix reported last year that the top 15 pet influencers have 22 million followers. We’ve seen plenty of cat and dog photos and videos, but some of the social media stars are hedgehogs, hamsters, pigs – even chameleons – with popular Instagram accounts.
Among the top 10 listed are a couple of marmosets in Miami – Diddy Kong and Yeti Kong – who had more than 23 million views a few years ago. There is Jill the Squirrel, Mr. Bagel the Chinchilla and Teddy the Shetland Pony as well.

Two rabbits in Texas are Instagram celebrities, all because of consistent posting by a young animal owner.

“I am a long time volunteer and foster for the SPCA of Texas, and that’s where I met Peter,” explained Ryann Sadler. “His owner surrendered him for being ‘too needy’ and ‘too affectionate.’ I was clipping Peter’s nails after he got surrendered (he was quite overdue for a trim!) and he started kissing all over my face! I never experienced this before with my other rabbit, Pepper, so I was completely caught off guard.”

Peter is a brown and white English Spot and the bunny she already owned, Pepper, is a gray and white Holland Lop. Ryann fell in love with Peter, so Pepper got a brother.

“I adopted him a week later and he is quite the character,” she said. “He loves to binky around the house, climb in the refrigerator, and eat arugula – that’s his favorite snack! Peter has become pretty popular from his Instagram account, @pep.pete_the_fuzzy_bunnies, and people from all around the world follow to see his adventures!”

An online audience across the globe is viewing pet videos as we speak. It may be inexplicable, but there’s something about the animal kingdom that turns heads.