So you want to be a Dog Instagram Influencer? Tips and tricks for becoming a dog influencer aka Instagram Famous.
The question we get asked most frequently is “how can I successfully grow my pet’s account?” and become an instagram dog influencer. What kinds of things help to turn my dog into a pet influencer? Check out this article with some information on SF influencer dogs (including an interview from yours truly). As dogs have become more popular on social media, things such as dog modeling agencies and pet talent agencies have emerged to grow instagram followers fast. Some services also exist to artificially boost Instagram followers, these tend to fill up with bot accounts that will suddenly disappear once instagram removes them. Another trend that we have been seeing is that Instagram has been taking the brunt of the blame for accounts who feel that they aren’t growing as much as they’d like. We hear tons of cries about instagram “shadow bans,” “omg the algorithm,” or “there must be a bug in the system…my account isn’t growing!” Our account has doubled in size since the first iteration of this guide and all without the use of “follow trains,” “engagement pods,” “follow-backs” and all those other words that we are constantly getting tagged in but entirely ignore. The truth of the matter is, Instagram is overcrowded with content as it continues to grow towards 1 billion users. There is SO much out there – a lot of it is really good, but a lot of it is just ok. To grow on Instagram these days, content can’t just be ok…it needs to be GREAT. If your growth has been stagnant (yep we’ve been there) then the solution is to step your content game up a notch! If you’re stuck in a rut, rethink your content strategy! Your content quality is what’ll drive your growth (not hashtags). We haven’t quite cracked the code, but here are some tips for creating the quality content that people want to see and follow:
1. Your Dog’s Persona
Is your dog cuddly? goofy? sassy? naughty? If your pup’s account showcases their character, your audience feels a deeper connection. In real life, Calvin is a friend tobig and small, floofy and non-floofy. He is patient, kind, and cuddly. However, he is also naughty and innocently mischievous – He is always getting into trouble. This is the type of character we try to portray through our posts. Successful pet accounts are able to make their audience feel like they truly know the dog even though they have never met in person.
2. Good Captions
This seems obvious but it is very important. Getting your audience to chuckle and smile when they see your posts will lead to a more loyal follower base that is likely to share your content with others. Whenever you think of a fun caption or photo idea, write it down! When your pup does something cute or funny, write it down! It is worth spending the extra time brainstorming. We have an entire notepad on our phones with content and caption ideas; we probably won’t ever get to most of them but like the optionality of looking through when we need to. It is also not cheating to search the internet for inspiration. Sometimes we find ourselves Googling or searching on Pinterest for: “Funny Dogs,” “Quotes about life,” “Quotes about love,” “Funny quotes.” Not only will you chuckle at the results, you may even get some great ideas for the types of posts you can put together. We got our inspiration for dogs holding signs from online – The thought of using a board instead of paper, came entirely from our online browsing even though the actual content was original.
3. Bright, High Quality Photos
EDITING: The way that we edit our photos may be considered a no-no to many professional photographers – we tend to “over expose” our photos which means we make them very, very bright as if too much sunlight was brought in. We found that bright photos stand out more when our audience is zooming down an Instagram feed. The brightness is happy, energetic, and upbeat -and we LOVE it. For our DSLR photos, we use Photoshop and Lightroom to color correct and brighten.
PHOTOSHOP & LIGHTROOM: We shoot in RAW to best be able to edit our photos later on. We use Lightroom for quick edits and photoshop for more involved changes. We will generally boost brightness, shadows, and highlights if we are just using Lightroom. In photoshop, we’ll remove leashes, extraneous subjects, and fix up washed out skies. We also tend to isolate Calvin and boost the brightness on him. Our favorite tools: crop (to expand the canvas), clone stamp (to remove blemishes and small items or to fill in the expanded canvas), multiply blend mode (to fix skies), mask layers (to fix any additional blemishes from the blending), lighten tool (to brighten certain parts of the image), filter-gaussian blur (to make sure the blur is consistent throughout the image). We’ll have a post about these in action.
TIMING: For the best photos, lighting is everything. It is a common misconception that direct sunlight makes for good photos. In reality, you want a middle ground; not too bright, not too dark. The happy medium is generally in the morning before 10am, in the evening from 6-8pm during the summer (3-4:30pm in the winter), or in the shade. You also want to avoid shadows over your pup’s face or on other parts of the photo. You can sometimes use your hands to block out shadows but if not, just wait until the sun isn’t as bright.
CAMERA GEAR: When we are away from our DSLR, we reluctantly shoot on an Iphone X. However, our preference is always to use our DSLR camera. DSLRs are a lot better at capturing movement because they have a fast shutter speed, they can take photos in a split second before your pup gets up again, and they shoot very well in low light (indoors). I am not a professional photographer but these cameras make it very difficult to mess up. They are straightforward and high-quality. Here is the camera gear we use (plus insurance, don’t forget that!):
Current Camera: Canon 5D Mark iv. This is a professional grade camera and not one that you want to invest in unless you know how to use the settings AND want a full frame camera. The biggest difference you’ll notice when upgrading to a full frame camera is the field of view – full frames will show more “stuff” in the window while the half frames will appear to have a little bit of a crop to them.
Starter Camera: Canon 80D Kit We’ve been shooting on DSLRs for the past 10 years – started out with the Canon Rebel Series and then upgraded to the 80D. We liked the video quality on the 80D plus all the upgrades from the Rebel. If you are just getting started with photography, we’d recommend the lower price point of the 80D.
Favorite Portrait Lens: 50mm f/1.4 The “Nifty Fifty” has always been our favorite lens for portraits. There is a cheaper version of it here with very similar functionality. This lens is very narrow, does not zoom, and is best for close up portraits – it will blend the background of your shots beautifully (in everyday language…the lower the number you see after the “f” to more blended your backgrounds will look….and the more expensive the lens will be). For wider shots, we use our everyday lens.
Favorite Everyday Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 This lens is generally considered one of the best everyday lenses you’ll find. It has a great zoom, can reach low apertures, and does great in low light.
Tripod: This basic tripod is great for shooting videos and portraits. The video below was filmed with the camera kit lens and the tripod.
Wireless Remote Control: We use this remote when the camera is on the tripod and we are busy getting Calvin to pose. It saves time and makes it more likely to get a good shot because we do not have to walk back to the camera to take the photo. For those of you who wonder how we get him to stay still – we don’t have to with this remote! He only needs to hold the stay for a couple of seconds to gives us enough time to set him up and press the remote.
Camera Bag + Strap: Green Backpack, Camera Strap We carry our camera everywhere so wanted to make sure to have a good looking backpack. When you’re carrying this stuff around, backpacks are a lot easier. We also upgraded to a nice looking and more comfortable strap. We use the mid volume sized backpack but the same brand has a full sized if you want more space! The mid volume is the perfect size for a DSLR, big lens, and laptop.
Need I say more? Who doesn’t love a dog wearing clothing? Check out party stores, Joann’s, Hobby Lobby,
5. Dog Instagram Hashtags and Captions
Hashtags help you come up on more searches and maximize the chance that relevant audiences will see the photo. If a user searches for a “yellowlab” they are more likely to find your page if you used the hashtag “#yellowlab.” You can use up to 30 hashtags in one photo, but there is some literature out there that says the ideal amount is 10. If you look into how much engagement you get due to your hashtags, you will find that hashtags actually do not contribute to growth as much as you may think so don’t stress it. Here are some of the hashtags we use for different types of photos (feel free to use):
#lablove #labstagram #puppy #labradorretriever #labradoroftheday #labradorlover #labpuppy #retreiver #retrieverpuppy #labradorlove #labradorworld #yellowlab #cute #dogsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #talesofalab #laboftheday #funnydogs #cutepuppy #dog #instapuppy #dogstagram #retriever #dogpuppy #puppydog
#dogadventures #dogtrail #puppy #labradorretriever #labpuppy #doghikes #labsofinsta #labradorlove #labradorworld #hikes #cute #dogtrails #dogfriendly #petfriendly #laboftheday #labradorofficial #cutepuppy #dog #hiking #dogstagram #labs_of_insta #yellowlaboftheday #adventure #beachday #doghiking #adventuredog #campingwithdogs #sunset #dogsunset
#tulips #dogflowers #puppy #bouquets #prettyflowers #labradorlover #labpuppy #dafodils #poppies #flowerchild #tulipfestival #yellowlab #cute #dogsofinstagram #spring #cutepuppy #dog #instapuppy #dogstagram #flowers #lablover #daffodils #tulipfestival #dogwithflowers #flowerdog
#puppy #cheeseburger #donuts #yellowlab #cute #dogsofinstagram #diet #lovefood #hamburger #dog #junkfood #dogstagram #yummyfood #foodporn #foodie #yumyumyum #yummy #bestfood #hungrydog
#lablove #labstagram #puppy #videos #labradoroftheday #dogvideos #funnyvideo #dogvids #yellowlab #cute #dogsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #pupflix #laboftheday #labradorofficial #cutepuppy #dog #doggosdoingthings #dogstagram #labs_of_insta #pupflix #dogvideos #doglover #dogsdoingthings
#buzzfeedanimals #thedodo #dogsofigtv
#celebration #puppy #lovebug #labpuppy #lovers #marriage #foreveralone #cute #valentines #engagement #dogsofinsta #valentines #cutepuppy #dog #loveintheair #dogstagram #doglover #cupid #engaged #romanticdog #romance #ido #shesaidyes #dogofhonor #bestdog
#birthdaydog #puppy #dogbirthday #partydog #labsofinsta #partyhard #yellowlab #cute #firstbirthday #dogsofinsta #talesofalab #laboftheday #dogparty #cutepuppy #dog #instapuppy #dogstagram #happybirthday #birthday #dogparty
#giveaway #freestuff #doggiveaway #dogcontest #contest #free #present #surprise #mysterybox #dogtreats #dogtoys #dogstuff #freedogstuff #doggiveaway
#dogtricks #allnatural #delicious #healthydiet #goodfood #healthy #healthnut #lowfat #delicious #yummy #dogtreats #dogfood #goodboy #smartdog #healthylifestyle #lifestyle #cgc #goodguy #tricks #treats #yummy #delish #trickdog #caninegoodcitizen #akctrickdog #dogtraining
6. Engage with your Followers
Your followers want to hear from you! It’s great to engage with them in the comments to let them know that you care about what they have to say. Respond to their questions and comments! Every follower is a great part of your Instagram Family, so it’s ideal to keep up with them online.
7. Schedule your Posts to Save Time
No one has time to be constantly writing content. We work long hours at our “day jobs,” and so we write Calvin’s posts only when we have free time (long car rides, during the weekend, and while we wait on line at the grocery store). We use an app called Buffer to schedule the posts to save time. The app allows you to prepare your posts and then schedule them to publish at any time you choose. There is a free version and premium version for $10 a month – the free version allows you to plan 10 posts in advance. There are many other services that allow you to schedule Instagram posts so be sure to check out which is best for you!
8. Host Giveaways
It’s great to show love and thanks to all your followers by hosting giveaways. One way to do this is by reaching out to businesses on Instagram asking if they would be willing to send an item in exchange for a promotion. If you are feeling extra generous, you can also host your own giveaway with products that you want to gift to your followers. Make sure that the winners of your giveaways are following you before you thank them for their love :P. Here are some online tools for choosing random winners.
9. Pet Influencer Partnerships
Partnerships seem cool at first, but be sure that you are not overflowing your followers with promos and spam about promo codes and free items you have received. The more you do this, the less credible you will seem and the slower you will grow. Followers tend not to care very much for promos and so choose wisely when you are partnering with brands. We receive over 10 partnership requests per day but only work with a couple of brands (and recently haven’t been taking on new partnerships at all).
Reach out to Brands: Once your account gains traction, you can start reaching out to brands to see if they would be willing to work with you. These early partnerships will be unpaid – most likely, brands will send you their product in exchange for an honest review or promotion on your page.
Brands reach out to you: Around 15,000 followers, brands will begin reaching out to you more frequently – some will have paid offers ready, others will ask for your fees. High profile brands may just send you items in exchange for promotions. They will be excited about the targeted audience that you can reach. What better way to let people know about a new dog food than promoting it to thousands of dog people? Make sure to choose wisely – not all partnerships are created equal. There has been word that some companies scam their partners into buying items. Be careful not to fall for any scams! We have found that paid partnerships offers became more frequent around 30,000 followers.
10. Analyze Your Influencer Metrics
Have you ever wondered how to get a link to an email address on your account? This is just one feature that comes with a “Business” Profile. With a Business profile, you will also have access to business features and Instagram insights. The insight page is boxed in blue on the top right of the screenshot below. The insights page tells you who your followers are, where they come from, when they most active online, how old they are, how many impressions, clicks, likes, engagements you have on your page ect ect. This is a great tool to use in order to understand when to schedule your posts. See here for instructions on how to convert your profile. Please note: it appears that the option “pet” is no longer available, but there are other options to choose from.
11. CONTENT IS KING
This is the MOST important. The truth is, no matter how hard you try to promote your account by engaging with others, following many accounts, using hashtags, or joining “follow trains,” the best thing to do is invest in your content. This means great captions, not too many spammy promos, and high quality, interesting photos. We have never joined “follow trains” (honestly they seem spammy and like a waste of time), and our top posts have actually used very few hashtags. Teach your dog some cool tricks that’ll get picked up by viral accounts – we gained 4,000 followers in the weeks that we posted Calvin grabbing tissues and eating with human hands. Get interesting with your posts – your pup is really cute but an up close shot of his face over and over isn’t going to move the needle. If you are looking for high end partnerships, brands will also be looking at your engagement levels. This means that they don’t really care what your total follower count is if you aren’t getting thousands of likes per photo. Similarly, if you follow a lot of accounts relative to your amount of followers brands will see that as a red flag: brands want you to gain followers naturally, not just because you “follow back.” Invest your time in content and the rest will follow.
Bonus Tip: Be Genuine
With Promotions: As we have gotten more and more requests for partnerships, we have found ourselves turning down most offers. Make sure that you are only promoting brands that you would actually buy for your pet. We do not promote brands that we would not buy, and have actually given up a partnership after we tried the product and realized we did not want to recommend it to our followers.
With Followers: Be kind to your followers. They have come to you because they enjoy your content and want to be a part of your pup’s life. Make sure that they always feel like they are part of the “fur family.”
Hope this helps! WOOF!
-Your Pal Cal