Dogs, cats and exotic animals like Tibby the Corgi and Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund are giving brand endorsements as influencers
Here’s a way to get your paws on some extra cash.
You don’t have to be an A-lister to become a social media influencer; all you need is a pet you can turn into a superstar. But don’t rush out and adopt an animal you can’t care for — just evaluate whether or not your current creature has potential. If they do, they could make $15,000 per post as a social media influencer.
Influencer marketing is set to reach an estimated $10 billion by 2020, according to AdWeek, and pets that partner up with a successful brand can fetch a piece of that action. A report released by Mavrck about influencer-generated content revealed that brands using pet influencers see an 89% increase in comments compared to human influencers.
Brands are relying so heavily on influencer marketing, in fact, that the Federal Trade Commission issued regulations last year requiring sponsored posts to include the hashtag #ad so that people know when they’re browsing sponsored content, Fortune reported. And there’s actually a company called #paid that specializes in matching influencers from all walks of life — including those with four legs — with brands.
Richard Wong, the vice president of marketing and creator relations for #paid, told Moneyish that it’s a good idea to partner with a bonafide business, rather than trying to go viral on your own. “We utilize our proprietary technology to facilitate collaborations between marketers and tens of thousands of creators from around the world,” he said.
With clients including Insta-famous pets like @tibbythecorgi and the Maltese @toby_littledude, #paid has a network of 13,000 influencers in more than 100 countries, and has worked with brands including Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Ikea and Visa.
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Influencer and content marketing software and services company Izea has hundreds of animals in its network. “You don’t need to have millions of followers or be a ridiculously photogenic fish to share a really great brand message with your audience,” James Michalak, director of business development at Izea, told Moneyish.
Before representing a pet, Izea looks for consistency in the content and cadence of posts, Casey Shea, the company’s team lead for campaign management, told Moneyish. “Just like people, pet influencers are brands in and of themselves so they need to maintain the same voice and tone across everything they post,” she said.
But exactly how much money can your critter make? “It depends on a few factors, like how many brand collaborations they work on and the price of each collaboration,” said Wong. “Each collaboration is typically priced on a cost per engagement basis, so on average people can expect to see between $0.50 to $1.00 per engagement — which means likes and comments.” Wong estimates that animal influencers with several million followers could pull in tens of millions of dollars annually just from working with brands, not including merchandise sales, advertising or guest appearances.
Loni Edwards, founder and CEO of The Dog Agency and PetCon, told Moneyish the range of how much pets make is all over the map. “Top influencers can make $15,000 or more per post,” said Edwards. “From there, the total amount they make per year depends on how often they create sponsored content, as well as what other revenue streams they have going.”
After all, Grumpy Cat is worth an estimated $100 million. And the Huffington Post reports that Boo, the world’s most famous Pomeranian, makes about $1 million annually thanks to his gigs — which include a spokesdog job for VIrgin America and a book that has been published in 11 languages.
Shirley H., 28, who asked Moneyish to withhold her last name, owns @tibbythecorgi, a dog with 235,000 Instagram followers who has worked with brands like Wayfair, Pedigree and Scotch-Brite.
“I started a social media account for her because her photos were taking over my personal account,” said Shirley. Four years ago, Shirley started posting photos with witty captions, and said she was surprised when people liked or shared her photos. A couple of years ago, once she gained more followers, brands started reaching out asking her to advertise their products.
While the most that Shirley and Tibby have made from a single gig is about $5,000 for a multi-post campaign, this pair won’t take just any paycheck. “The most important factor is if the brand is the right fit, is something we believe in and if it’s useful to the audience,” said Shirley.
Though success is really determined by how the content resonates with the audience, regardless of pet species or breed, cats and dogs are more likely contenders for becoming influencers. “Unique pets like pigs, hedgehogs or wild animals that have been rescued can easily become influencers because they’re not your typical dog or cat,” said Shea. “A few key elements that lead to great content that audiences come back to are pets who listen well and can do tricks on command or sit and stay for comedic effect, pets who are patient and calm so you can dress them up, and people who lead an active or adventurous lifestyle that pets can join in on.”
To start building your pet’s online presence and catch the internet’s attention, Wong recommends following these three guidelines:
Develop a content plan. What does your pet care about, and what makes people follow it? Does it brighten people’s day with costumes and outfits? Does it eat interesting pet-friendly concoctions? Does it adventure out to unique places? Give the audience something to care about.
Consistently engage your audience. Post often, ideally every day. Create discussions and comments on your posts and comment back on your followers’ accounts.
Be proactive about building your presence. People aren’t going to find you unless you use the right, relevant hashtags, engage online communities, submit photos to Instagram feature accounts and reach out to other creators and brands about working and collaborating on content together.
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