Friday, 2 November 2018

Could your pet be an Instagram star?

There won’t be many animal lovers who haven’t heard of Grumpy Cat, that social media feline phenomenon. He’s a sad-looking puss who now has 2.4 million followers on Instagram, 8.6m on Facebook, an extensive product range that includes calendars, clothing, books, shoes and more, plus a significantly wealthier (and not sad) owner as a result!
It’s well known that cat videos are one of the most watched subjects on YouTube; whole channels are dedicated to them and there are spin-off TV programmes, too.

                                        Just some of © Grumpy Cat’s range of merchandise

Not every pet can emulate the success of Grumpy Cat, of course, but more and more pet owners are sharing images of their beloved friends via Instagram to a seemingly limitless number of animal-loving followers worldwide.

If you haven’t thought of setting up a profile for your pet on Instagram yet, these tips might help you to decide whether it’s for you, how to go about it, and what to expect. Speaking from personal experience, having set up a profile page for my three rather lazy but very photogenic British Shorthair cats, Frosty, Myrrh, and Elsa just a couple of short months ago, I was astonished to see what resulted. I now have over 1100 followers worldwide; the number is growing daily, and they all all seem to love my cats as much as I do!

It costs nothing to set up a personal profile on Instagram, and takes just a few minutes. Just enter a few details and you’re away! However, think carefully about the name of your account, as to gain followers it should ideally contain the name and/or breed of your pet, or at least the word ‘cat’ or ‘dog,’ ‘kitten’ or ‘pup’ to give some clue to the kind of content you will post. Your profile picture, ie the one people see first at the top of your page when they search, should also be a good eye-catching image of your pets. You can also post a few sentences that appear at the top of your page, so a brief light-hearted description of the content, without giving too much personal information, is best.

Instagram can show both still photos and short videos, so you can post either. You can also post ‘live’ video and Instagram will alert your followers that you’re doing so. These appear at the top of the Instagram page.

Posting couldn’t be easier: just select an image or clip from your phone and share it on your page, or go via Instagram and select your image to add. Both ways will give you options to edit and crop your photo, so you may want to take the opportunity to enhance it. Clear images work best and catch the eye of browsers, so give your image something to make it stand out – an interesting angle, humour, showing the character of your beautiful pet. Whilst short film clips can be amusing, a good engaging still image will draw lots of likes, too.

You’ll have options to ‘tag’ people when you post: this means you can link to friends’ accounts. You can write a brief description under the image or clip – keep it short and amusing, even one or two words is fine.

Many social media followers on Instagram and Twitter search and follow hashtags (#) to see posts, so take the time to look at what hashtags are relevant to your subject. As well as #cats, #dogs, #catsofinstagram, #dogsofinstagram, there are #s for types of breeds, colours: in fact, you name it, there will be a hashtag for it! You can even create your own based on your user name or pets’ names. By adding the relevant tag to your post description you will pick up views from people who follow that tag.

You can also share your post across to Facebook simply by selecting this option at the time of posting. Make sure it links to the right account, though!

So now you can sit back and watch your following grow. People like your photo by double-tapping it, or tapping the heart underneath – both result in a ‘like’ for your post. Some may also comment, which appears underneath the picture. If you’ve set up alerts, your smartphone will tell you when you have a new like or comment.

The more people/pets you follow, the more followers you will get, so browse away and follow similar pages to your own. You can use the ‘search’ icon (the magnifying glass at the bottom of the home page) to find new pages to follow; Instagram will suggest these based on your posts and views.

Take a look at who follows other pages, too; scroll through and you can see who follows you and follow those who don’t.

How often should you post?

As often as you like, striking a balance between not overloading your followers, and not letting them forget about you!

Is there anything to avoid?

Well, not so much avoid, but the more followers you have the more comments you will receive, so be prepared for the occasional weird one! People can ‘direct message’ you and some of these may be trying to sell you products – if you’re not interested just ignore them.

If you don’t like something that’s appeared in your feed, you can unfollow, mute posts, or block them from sending any more.

Happy Instagramming – you may not make your pet the next Grumpy Cat, but you’ll have fun watching your followers grow!

Tell us about your Instagram page … has your pet become a star?

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