Read this at your own risk, feelings may get hurt
Dear Aspiring Instagram Stars,
This letter is to all of the aspiring pet influencers who are about to enter the social media game. Let me tell you, it ain’t pretty. For real, I am frank and honest, no bullshit. My goal is to enlighten you, to give you an understanding of the overall fucked up picture of what it’s like, what it takes, and what you are about to get yourself into, this thing called Instagram “viral” fame, so to speak.
A little history about my account, @threecorgis, so you can see that I have some level of expertise. I also give a bit of personal history, so you can see that my professional background adds to expertise.
First off, when this started for us, meaning the three Corgis on social media, I had a Google phone and found it quite limiting with the lack of a good camera lens and Instagram app. iPhone should thank Instagram for moving people to their product. I personally wanted to create a blog life on the trials and tribulations of marketing, but had no idea that placing my dogs online would take off. I had to create separate accounts between my personal and the dogs, as I was getting sucked into the many likes.
We first focused on Tumblr, grew a small audience, moved on to Instagram when Tumblr started getting weird, and began to see real momentum. Keep in mind the year was 2012, before crazy algorithms and bots, etc. That time was critical, as Buzzfeed featured the dogs several times, giving us a bump of a thousand or so followers. Pretty exciting! Then, to get on the IG Discover page, you had to get the fastest number of likes in the shortest amount of time. I figured out how to get on the page at least 5 times, and this feat also gave me significant increases.
Moving on to my personal history…I am a corporate marketing professional. With the knowledge of hyped social media, I was able to study, understand and execute many social media initiatives, create massive brand strategies and spend a ton of budget on the brands I was working for. In 2013, there weren’t many brands utilizing social media very well. I knew people at Facebook, Youtube, etc. I knew bloggers, celebrities, pioneering influencers, and harvested tons of knowledge from behind the scenes. My IG basically was an experiment in tactics that I would then apply to my workplace. Simple as that. Read my Linkedin bio, if you like.
Now, on to the meat!
Whew! That was longer than I wanted it to be. I know that if you are reading this, you are not trying to get a CV out of this, so let’s cut to the chase here.
Fast forward to today, 2018. Facebook and Instagram are no longer “social networks”, but are ad revenue generators. The goal is to make money, change a little when streams shrink, and make more money. The days of mass followers are over. The days of influencer marketing is over. I say that arrogantly, as the game is so sophisticated with paid tools, cheats and bots, because I have seen it all.
If you want to be a social media “star,” which is a very dated revenue model, you must be dedicated, committed and have a tough skin. People ask me all the time, “what can I do?”
Before I start, your furbabies are family. Remember this, they deserve love and care, genuine love and care. They are fragile beings, as they can detect your moods, if you are sick or feeling great. They are here to make you happy, unconditionally, and need your guidance to fit in this crazy world. Here is my shortlist of advice for aspiring Instagram stars:
- Everyday is a post day. With Instagram constantly messing with “the algorithm”, you will have no idea if you got dinged for posting too much or not enough. I’ve experimented with all types of results. I do know this, if you don’t post consistently, you will disappear from your followers’ feeds.
- Engagement means a lot to your followers, so follow and like/comment your community. If you don’t want to follow, then at least like and comment. Thank them for being a part of the Corgi community. And always always always be respectful and ask permission to repost video content while giving credit and tags. It is appreciated.
- Figure out your “thing”. Be authentic. Do not feel like you need to find a white background and stage a complicated set up. You simply will not be able to sustain it. And, if you look around, there are many that are already doing it, so the clutter out there will just bum you out. Put effort into it, but don’t kill yourself either.
- Research the industry. Since the landscape is highly competitive, the latest and greatest tools and methods change pretty fast. It is wise to keep up on the industry to figure out what you need to know, change and adapt to. Trust me, it’s worth reading up on current marketing tactics.
- Don’t be tempted to buy followers or likes. There are many companies out there that have low prices, but realistically every player in the game is savvy to this. For example, I know a person who has 8000 followers, but gets maybe 20 likes on a photo. How lame is that? On the business side, it’s pretty suspicious to see a post get thousands of likes when those days are just over. I myself fell for this a long time ago, buying 1000 followers, and then losing them all! This was quite a while ago, but still I did it.
- Be nice to other accounts and be humble. Apparently, there are big accounts out there that are just mean to others. Maybe these people are socially awkward to begin with, but some of us spend an awful lot of time consoling each other on mean pet owners. It’s really bizarre and a total bummer. And, who knows, you may create a circle of support. I have a great support system of fellow pet owners and have Instagram met some pretty awesome people all over the world. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it! Just reach out to people.
- Survive the haters. There are a lot of trolls out there. People who will call your beloved pet “fat”, “ugly”, “retarded.” You can react by blocking them, say something back, or even look at their account and DM them nasty things about what you found. Or, you can delete and do nothing. The point is this. It’s going to happen and you need to prepare yourself to have a thick skin.
- Pride yourself on the community you are a part of and participate. As the IG algorithm changes, you will be rewarded for your interaction with your followers. You can be full of yourself and only follow “your circle”, but following more isn’t so bad. Get over yourself…
- Don’t be sad. Sometimes, it does bother me that we don’t get invited to “Corgi get togethers.” You have to take it with a grain of salt. One time, I organized a meet up, invited a bunch of Corgis, and half the group didn’t even acknowledge me. There were some pawrents who were totally cool, friendly, nice and downright thankful; however, the others who kinda shunned me, didn’t watch their own Corgis and pick up their poop, AND didn’t acknowledge that I paid for pedicures, well, left a bad taste. We do get invited, and when we do, I make sure we chat with the hosts and give them all the love we can!
- Don’t have FOMO! Many Instagram stars are faking it till they make it. Life isn’t all about hyper filtered photos, unless you are a Kardashian. And do not go to the Grand Canyon just to get a pet selfie. That’s just weird. Don’t take on friends just because you need more content with your pets being forced to sit still for a group photo! It’s okay! Really, if you love your pet, it will shine through.
Humble thank your for sticking this article out!
Lastly, you need to socialize your Corgi. The more animal technicians I meet, the more I hear about mean Corgis. They often tell me how nice our Corgis are compared to others. It’s really the owner, not the dog. They agree. Socializing your pets to be around other pets and people is key to pet owner responsibility. You are responsible for their actions, and happy pets who are well adjusted will make your life easier and smoother. Remember, its really about pet ownership, simple as that!
To my “community:” I am sure someone out there in the Instagram star universe, I will be talked about and shunned. I don’t care. Are we influencers? Absolutely. Do we post ads to sell our calendars? Absolutely. I would be stupid to not try. Will I try hard to bring good with our influence? Fuck yeah! Bring it on, HATERS!
To future Instagram stars: It ain’t easy and simple. But above all, have fun and enjoy your furbaby!
Caveat to all of the above: This does not apply to everyone. If you are a superstar PR expert, you most likely do not need this advice! Wink wink.