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How to Make Your Pet Instagram Famous

March 01, 2018 35 Comments

How to Make Your Pet Instagram Famous

Updated August 2019

Instagram has become one of the most popular social networks for photo and video sharing. With over 800 million monthly active users at the start of 2018, the mainly mobile photo sharing app had reached 1 billion monthly active users by June 2018.

Thousands of people are being launched into stardom via Instagram. Fashionistas, fitness experts, and mom bloggers are growing massive followings and enjoying the perks of social celebrity (namely free products and compensation for sponsored posts). In addition to people, pet accounts are seeing their own success stories. Suddenly it's not that crazy to see a celebrity dog with 100,000 followers and a book deal!

How did these savvy pet owners grow their Instagram followings? It's not rocket science! Seriously, anyone can do it. I know because I (Steph) did it myself! In late 2015, I launched my dog Django's Instagram account, @djangothegent. Fast forward three years, and Django has over 80,000 Instagram followers and friends all over the world. He has been featured by countless media outlets and sponsored by some really great brands.

So here it is... here is everything I've learned about Instagram after rocketing my long-haired wiener dog to social media stardom. Here are 11 tips to grow your Instagram account, boost engagement, and get more followers.

Tip 1: Image and Video Quality

Posting high resolution images and videos are a must. You'd be surprised how many people post out-of-focus, blurry or grainy photos! High quality content with a clear subject matter is more likely to be noticed and liked by your followers as they scroll through their main feed or Instagram's "Explore" tab.

What do we mean by clear subject matter? If you're posting a picture of your pet, make sure your pet stands out in the photo. Does your dog blend in with the photo's busy or colorful background? Is he or she out of focus? Instagram users are most likely to open and double tap photos that stand out - photos that compel them to pause and take a closer look.

Photo layout is also important. Generally speaking, vertical photos do much better than horizontal (or landscape) images. Why? Think about scrolling down your Instagram feed on your phone. When you come across a vertical photo, it takes up your whole screen! Horizontal photos, on the other hand, only take up a fraction of your screen and are easier to overlook and scroll past without double clicking. If possible, make sure your vertical photos have an aspect ratio of 4:5. This is the maximum size photo Instagram will allow. Anything more than 4:5 (i.e. 4:6) will be cropped by Instagram.

One other huge tip? Post puppy photos and videos. Seriously. Instagram users cannot get enough puppy content, and engagement is tremendously higher for adorable puppies. Have you ever noticed how very big Instagram dog accounts will frequently post 'throwback' puppy photos? This is because puppy photos naturally get more likes, comments, and shares. No one can resist clicking on and fawning over a puppy golden retriever or adorable baby dachshund... then sharing it with three friends. If you have high resolution puppy photos and videos, use them to your advantage and post one every 1-2 weeks.

Tip 2: Post More Videos

Video content is extremely powerful on Instagram. High resolution and engaging videos (i.e. they are funny, relevant, adorable, etc) generally get higher engagement than photos. These days, users are more likely to engage with and share a video versus a photo.

Instagram now allows users to post videos up to 60 seconds long, but this doesn't necessarily mean your videos should be this long. Most users get bored after 20-30 seconds, so try to cap your videos at this time stamp.

Tip 3: Leverage Hashtags & Location Stickers

Relevant hashtags and location stickers will introduce your content to a large, targeted audience. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post - why not use these to your advantage? Focus on the 30 most relevant and niche hashtags for each post; avoid unspecific tags. What do we mean? If you're posting a picture of your brindle french bulldog, tag #brindlefrenchie, #brindlefrenchbulldog and #frenchbulldog. Your post is more likely to be featured by Instagram via the hashtag #brindlefrenchie than a generic tag like #dog and #dogsofinstagram.

Tons of people search Instagram by location, so take advantage of this feature. If your post performs well, it is likely to appear as a featured post when someone searches for photos in your location. Again, be specific. If you're posting from Windansea Beach in San Diego, California, use the location sticker "Windansea Beach, San Diego" instead of "California" or even "San Diego".

Tip 4: How Often Should I Post on Instagram?

Every post (accompanied by 30 high quality hashtags) is an opportunity for a new audience to discover you. This doesn't mean, however, you should post 10 times a day. Excessive posting may turn off your followers and result in a wave of unfollows.

The general rule of thumb for Instagram is to post consistently and average 1.5 times per a day. Consistency is key. It is ok to post every 2, 3 or even 4 days, so long as you keep up this cadence. 

If you post infrequently or let a few weeks pass without any activity, you risk losing followers and fans. Your audience may forget that you exist and find new accounts to follow.

Do I post each and every day to Django's account? I should, but I don't. I have a full-time job and don't always have the time or energy to keep up daily activity. That said, I do post regularly and rarely let more than 3-4 days pass without new content.

Tip 5: Build A Base of Followers

As soon as you get on Instagram, start following other similar accounts. If, for instance, you're launching your pug's new Instagram account, follow other pug accounts and pug "community" accounts (i.e. @pugsofinstagram).

Spend time each day interacting and engaging with your new Instagram friends. Like photos, respond to comments, and comment on posts you love. These accounts will give you inspiration for posts. You'll also get on their radar - a bunch of these accounts will probably follow you back.

Tip 6: "Sometimes I Pretend to be Normal, But It Gets Boring So I Go Back To Me" - Ain Eineziz

Personality is what makes everyone unique and special, so pour your personality into your captions and hashtags. Friends and followers will love getting to know you through your posts.

When I first launched Django's Instagram account, I was a unsure of how to proceed with his captions. Do I let my fun-loving, dry and occasionally crude sense of humor let loose, or will that turn off followers? Over time I became increasingly comfortable letting my personality shine. Not only did I notice better engagement, I also started having more fun with Django's account. Now I have one rule when posting - I have to make myself laugh or smile with each post. If I can entertain myself, I consider the post successful.

One more tip? Share personal and humanized content - something people can relate to and emotionally connect with. Your post is more likely to be liked, commented on and shared if your followers identify with your experiences or see themselves in your content.

Tip 7: Get Featured!

Over the past two years, Django has been featured consistently in the online and offline neighborhood. Django has been featured by huge "community" Instagram accounts like @Insta_dogs, publications like Subaru's Drive magazine, and internet powerhouses like People. Each feature has resulted in new exposure and followers. 

How can you get featured? Start with big "community" accounts on Instagram. If you post great shots of outdoor adventures with your dog, reach out to @adventuredogsofficial via direct message or email, send them your most engaging high resolution photos, and ask to be featured.

Getting feature in offline publications like newspapers and magazines is definitely more difficult, but it is also doable. Usually huge online media sites like People.com have a few writers that focus on specific content, i.e. pet-related posts. See if you can reach out directly to one of these writers. Introduce yourself, your account, and ask them to consider including your account in relevant future content.

Tip 8: Cross Promote With Other Influencers

As you engage with your following and audience, you'll slowly start to get to know the people behind the accounts. Consider cross promotions with similarly sizes accounts. Cross promotions can include shoutout-for-shoutouts or jointly-hosted giveaways.

Another rising trend is "engagement groups". In engagement groups, an average of 10-15 similarly sized accounts join a group DM (direct message group) and agree to engage with each other's posts. The the idea is to trick Instagram's algorithm by boosting engagement on your friends' and your own posts. So how exactly does this work? Whenever someone in the group DM posts on Instagram, they share the post in the DM group. All the others in the DM group then go over to the new post and like and comment on it. All of a sudden, a brand new post has 10-15 more likes and 10-15 more comments. Instagram will see this sudden engagement, assume the post is doing well overall, and therefore boost the post across the the news feed. Engagement Groups are especially powerful when large Instagram accounts (25k+ followers) team up.

Tip 9: Celebrate Milestones with a Giveaway

There are a few ways to host a giveaway on Instagram. Thrive Hive provides a great resource for the various types of giveaway.

Once your account reaches 1,000+ followers, consider reaching out to a brand you love and ask them to sponsor your giveaway with one product. Brands usually welcome exposure to a new targeted audience and are willing to offer one free product in exchange.

In my experience, the most effective giveaways are those where Django works with one brand and gives away one high quality product, i.e. a dog hoodie, pet camera, or a dog bed. We keep the contest rules simple: (1) Follow Django and the brand (2) Like this post (3) Tag 2 friends. These rules guarantee simplicity (i.e. higher probability people will enter the giveaway), engagement, and new followers.

Below is an example of a giveaway Django hosted for animal non-profit More Than a Cone. More Than a Cone wanted to raise awareness for their cause, and a giveaway on Django's Instagram was a wonderful way to get in front of a new dog loving audience. The giveaway prize was a huge box of Kong dog toys. To enter the giveaway, friends just had to follow Django and More Than a Cone and tag a friend.

Tip 10: Boost Your Brand On Facebook and Other Social Media Channels

After Django's Instagram account surpassed 50,000 followers, I decided to launch his Facebook page. Facebook introduced Django to a brand new audience of dog lovers, and many of these new Facebook friends ultimately started following Django on Instagram.

Connect your Facebook and Instagram accounts, if you haven't already. Sharing content from Instagram to Facebook became incredibly easy after Facebook bought Instagram in 2012. What this means is you can post a photo, video or story to Instagram and immediately upload it to your Facebook page with one click. Instagram also allows you auto-follow your Facebook friends in seconds. By connecting with your Facebook friends on Instagram, you will automatically introduce them to your Instagram account.

Outside of Facebook, consider expanding your presence on other social media platforms. Do you post video content? Then create a YouTube channel! We launched DJANGO's YouTube channel in 2017. Our content includes a mix of hilarious Django videos, educational dog content (here's an example), and product videos.

Do you prefer Pinterest? We launched DJANGO on Pinterest just recently and have since become huge fans of the platform. One Pinterest strategy we recently discovered is to pin your Instagram photos to Pinterest. Make sure each Instagram photo 'pinned' links back to your original Instagram post. Whenever someone comes across your Pinterest post and clicks, they'll automatically be taken to your Instagram post. All of a sudden you are driving new traffic to your Instagram page!

Tip 11: A Well-Trained Pet Makes Things Much Easier

When Django was a baby, I spent 30 minutes every morning doing "school" with him. We practiced sitting still - I would walk around the apartment while Django sat patiently in one spot, waiting for me to give him the OK to run over and grab a treat. I also taught Django to look at the camera whenever I am taking a photo. How? I would tell Django to "Look!" at me. Whenever he caught my eye, I would praise him with "Good look!" and give him a treat. You can imagine that this makes taking photos of Django so much easier!

One last thought.

It is very easy to compare your account growth, follower count, and engagement with other accounts... and get frustrated if your account isn't performing as well or growing as quickly. As soon as you start letting these thoughts creep into your head, your fun-loving Instagram account becomes a stressful job. What is the point of posting fun images of your pet if you suddenly hate doing it?

There are now over 1 billion monthly active Instagram users, and Instagram's algorithm inexplicably dictates which of these accounts see above-average growth.

Unless you are Selena Gomez or a Kardashian, your account will never be the biggest or most successful. And it shouldn't have to be! With 1 billion users, Instagram is offering an incredibly opportunity to amass hundreds, thousands or even millions of followers. Stay savvy (i.e. follow the above tips), be yourself, and have fun.

Before you go...

We would love to hear from you and check out your Instagram account! Drop us a comment below (include your IG handle!) and remember to follow Django on Instagram!

Follow DJANGO the dachshund @djangothegent on Instagram





35 Responses

DJANGO
DJANGO

August 13, 2019

@DESTINY THOMAS I’m so glad you found this useful! Kirby is too freakin cute!! And his coloring is stunning. I don’t think I’ve seen many tri-color corgis before.

We include some tips on doing giveaways above, but I’ll definitely elaborate on them more here! You can do giveaways two ways… (1) You can buy a relatively inexpensive dog product that Kirby loves (a dog toy, dog hoodie, etc) and sponsor the giveaway yourself. This may be the best route if you have a small account, i.e. <1k followers OR (2) You can get a brand to sponsor you by providing the giveaway prize.

For option (1), you would simply post a photo of Kirby with the giveaway prize (i.e. Kirby wearing the dog hoodie he’s giving away) and announce the giveaway in your caption. The caption can be simple, but it should grab everyone’s attention: DOG HOODIE GIVEAWAY We absolutely love our DJANGO Dog Hoodie and are giving one away to 1 lucky winner!! To enter the giveaway: Follow Kirby, like this photo, and tag a friend! US and Canada only.

For option (2), you would reach out to a brand directly and ask if they are interested in doing a giveaway on your Instagram account. It definitely helps if the brand is smaller (i.e. we at djangobrand.com are a lot more likely to sponsor giveaways than PetSmart) and if you’re already a customer of the brand. We’ve sponsored giveaways for many of our customers to celebrate birthdays and milestones.

Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions!

Destiny Thomas
Destiny Thomas

August 12, 2019

This really helped me!! I was just wondering how to do giveaways for my pup’s instagram.

@kirby.corgi_

DJANGO
DJANGO

August 09, 2019

@HOUSTON Thanks for the kind comment! You are absolutely adorable (we checked out your IG page!) and your engagement is fantastic! Keep up the good work!

Houston
Houston

August 09, 2019

Hi…Your account is so beautiful.. I love Django ! @houstonspaws

DJANGO
DJANGO

July 16, 2019

@ALISSA Thanks so much for the love, and congratulations on nearing 1,000 followers! Also, Daisy is absolutely adorable :)

DJANGO
DJANGO

July 16, 2019

@ALISSA Thanks so much for the love, and congratulations on nearing 1,000 followers! Also, Daisy is absolutely adorable :)

Alissa
Alissa

July 16, 2019

This is so helpful, thank you! We love following your instagram and are hoping to one day have a community like yours!
our_golden_daisy

DJANGO
DJANGO

May 31, 2019

@MIA_THE_DOODETTE Yes, we totally hear you! Giveaways and engagement groups can definitely be time-consuming and feel more like work after a while… While they are definitely helpful when it comes to engagement, we don’t do either too frequently for those very reasons. And definitely stick to more simplistic giveaway rules! We find that doing a giveaway with ONE brand only and giving away ONE item (i.e. hosting a giveaway with DJANGO and giving away one DJANGO dog hoodie) work the best. Fewer rules means it’s easier for your followers to enter… and that ultimately leads to better overall giveaway engagement.

Thanks for your comment! We found you on Instagram and just left a ton of likes and comments on your page :)

Mia_the_doodette
Mia_the_doodette

May 29, 2019

The giveaways and engagement groups are always a bit much. I like your simplistic giveaway rules rather than the follow these 12 accounts and comment on 3 of their 4 last posts while tagging 30 accounts. Exaggeration…but you get the point. We haven’t started the facebook page yet but I guess it’s time to talk to the new audience too.

Great advice and followed you :)

DJANGO
DJANGO

May 22, 2019

@LUNA Just took a look at your Instagram account! Luna is absolutely adorable and your captions are fun, personable, and relatable! Great use of questions in your captions as well (i.e. “Am I as pretty as a flower?”) – asking relevant questions to your followers encourages engagement in the comment section and ultimately helps boost the post’s overall standing in Instagram’s algorithm. And great use of a giveaway to celebrate Luna’s 3k following! That post had incredible engagement :)

My only feedback is for your photos. Some photos are very clear and crisp – these stand out really well in the Instagram feed. Others however are a little out of focus and/or busy (i.e. the background is in focus and busy and takes away from Luna). One option is to download a free photo editing app in your App store and use it to slightly blur the backgrounds of these busier photos. You don’t want to go overboard – the photo should look authentic – but doing this will help Luna pop in the photo and ultimately get more clicks on the IG feed. Hope this helps!

Art Yourself LLC
Art Yourself LLC

May 14, 2019

This information is so generous. So many accounts are afraid to share info like you have done. Thank you and I am now a new follower of yours. 🙂

Luna
Luna

May 10, 2019

Hi, thanks for these great tips! I was wondering if you could have a look at my account and maybe give me some tips on what I could do better? My account is @its_luna_the_cat_

DJANGO
DJANGO

April 14, 2019

@CAITLINMILLER Thanks for the great question! I would approach several friends on Instagram with similarly sized dog accounts and ask them if they want to start an engagement group. We’ve been invited to several groups this way… Usually one person will message 5-10 other accounts and see who wants to join the engagement group. It’s as easy as that!

Once you have a group formed, just agree on some simple rules of the engagement group. For example, (1) Everyone likes and comments on each other’s recent posts (2) Comments should be 4 or more words (3) Everyone shares their latest post within the group message thread to ensure all see it.

Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any follow up questions!

DJANGO
DJANGO

April 14, 2019

@ALBUSDUMBLEDOG Thanks for the nice comment! Your photos of Albus are absolutely beautiful and definitely high res! Definitely a great start!! And yes, Instagram can easily become a full time job if you let it :) Just have as much fun as you can and try not to stress. Come back here if you have any follow up questions!

DJANGO
DJANGO

April 14, 2019

@PET_ANG3L Thanks for the great question! I would approach several friends on Instagram with similarly sized dog accounts and ask them if they want to start an engagement group. We’ve been invited to several groups this way… Usually one person will message 5-10 other accounts and see who wants to join the engagement group. It’s as easy as that!

Once you have a group formed, just agree on some simple rules of the engagement group. For example, (1) Everyone likes and comments on each other’s recent posts (2) Comments should be 4 or more words (3) Everyone shares their latest post within the group message thread to ensure all see it.

Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any follow up questions!

Caitlin Miller
Caitlin Miller

April 12, 2019

Hello! Such excellent information and tips!!!! Can you please advise where to find an engagement group as mentioned?? 🙏🏼 We are @originalmaxgram – thank you SO much!

Caitlin Miller
Caitlin Miller

April 12, 2019

Hello! Such excellent information and tips!!!! Can you please advise where to find an engagement group as mentioned?? 🙏🏼 We are @originalmaxgram – thank you SO much!

Albus Dumbledog
Albus Dumbledog

April 10, 2019

Thank you so much for this article. I just got a new camera so I am definitely working on the better quality content. I need to get in the habit of posting more though. You guys are incredible and working full time and keeping up with IG is hard work! Congratulation on your big achievement!

@albus_dumbledog247

Pet_ang3l
Pet_ang3l

April 07, 2019

@pet_ang3l is my rescue animal instagram. Trying to get 1k but not quite there yet I just need a little boost past 800 and I will feel a lot better. Where do you find those groups you mentioned? To engage on each others accounts?

Louie McLovin
Louie McLovin

March 28, 2019

Thanks so much for the response. Definitely gonna check out that account & use the extra advice you gave! Feel free to check me out sometime! @louie.mclovin

DJANGO
DJANGO

March 28, 2019

@LOUIE MCLOVIN I’m so glad you found our tips useful! You’re not alone in feeling like you hit a wall with new followers… It is definitely getting harder to grow on Instagram – and this is for everyone, not just you! That’s wonderful you have a core group of IG friends and are utilizing engagement groups to boost likes, comments, and overall growth.

As for your content and how to mix up your posts… You definitely don’t need to go anywhere exotic to make compelling content! Some of the best pet accounts post photo after photo in their home. Look at @harlowandsage, one of our favorite dog accounts. 95%+ of their photos are taken in their home. What makes their photos so engaging is the personality of the dogs, the simple but often humorous captions, and the unique and adorable shots they manage to capture.

Try capturing more unique photos of your pup around the house. Focus on shots that ‘humanize’ your dog, i.e. make him really relatable to people like you and me (since we’re the ones liking posts!). Is your dog sitting upright on your couch? Throw a book on his lap and a coffee mug in front of him and pretend he’s reading on a Saturday morning :) Is he cuddling in your bed with his head on the pillow like you would after a long day at work? These are often easy-to-take photos that people definitely relate to (and double tap as a result).

Louie McLovin
Louie McLovin

March 27, 2019

Thanks for the tips. I feel like I’ve hit a wall with new followers but have a really strong core of great new friends. I do engagement groups & that helped. I struggle with content. All my posts feel like repeats with the same locations. How can I mix it up (without actually going other places)?

DJANGO
DJANGO

March 21, 2019

@JESSEWITHTHEGOODHAIR Your account is doing really well! Your engagement (likes and comments per account following) is actually very high, so I’d say you’re doing considerably well on Instagram!! We just followed you too, so there’s one more following :)

DJANGO
DJANGO

March 21, 2019

@NANAMI Your IG account is adorable! Just followed you and left a bunch of likes and comments :) Videos are definitely a great idea and will help boost engagement. Of course, it can be very time consuming to make and edit videos – this is the only downside and honestly the reason why we aren’t posting more videos to @DjangoTheGent! As for account growth, it’s probably not accurate to compare Django’s initial account growth to Nanami’s. Initial account growth depends on so many things… most importantly when the account launched and what kind of niche you’re in. It was a LOT easier to grow an account 3 years ago vs. today. @DjangoTheGent did grow fairly quickly when we launched it in late 2015 (quicker than we expected) but I’d be lying if I said growth hadn’t slowed down significantly since then. There are just so many more accounts on Instagram today – growth today will never be what it was a few years ago unless you have photos/videos that go viral.

And yes, happy to provide feedback! Nanami is absolutely beautiful, and I give you credit for posting clear, high res photos. My one piece of feedback would be to add variety to your photos. The majority of your photos are close up portraits of Nanami. Although these are beautiful shots, they probably get redundant to your followers after a while. New potential followers that visit your profile will also scroll down and see a grid of similar looking photos… this may prevent them from becoming truly engaged (i.e. clicking on any one photo and liking it) and ultimately following you.

titusandeden
titusandeden

March 20, 2019

Thanks for the info. I started posting pics of my 2 babies (english bulldogs) and I am doing it just for fun because I love going places and photographing them. I guess I have been posting too much because every time I pick up followers…I also lose them!!! So thank you! My babies…#titusandeden!

Jessewiththegoodhair
Jessewiththegoodhair

March 15, 2019

Hi Django
Thanks for the awesome tips. I m going to try one of your techniques I have nt yet.
I think my content is good but How can I grow faster? Need Whelp! Pweeze! Django! Because each day I ain’t gettin any cuter, an If i lose another toof my career will be ruined
IG jessewiththegoodhair

Nanami
Nanami

March 15, 2019

Thank you Steph, these are very helpful tips. I think I need to start posting videos. I have tried using relevant hashtags, adding the location, posting everyday, joining engagement groups, etc, but the growth of my account seems extremely slow. Did your account grow rapidly the first year? I have had mine for nearly 3 years, with very slow growth. Could you please check out my account and give me feedback about what I am doing wrong? @nanami_the_yorkie

DJANGO
DJANGO

March 06, 2019

@KIKA & OZGE We just checked out your Instagram account and left a few comments (and lots of likes) ❤️You are absolutely adorable!!

kika & ozge
kika & ozge

February 14, 2019

Thank you so much for this suuuuper informative post! my little puppy kika’s account is new and it looks like she has a lot to learn from Django! Please light up our day by visiting kika’s account IG: kikapups

DJANGO
DJANGO

July 03, 2018

Sounds great Maisie! Definitely let me know if you have any follow up questions. And oh my… Maisie Marie is the absolute cutest! Just followed her on Instagram! Our IG handle is @djangobrand :)

Maisie
Maisie

June 26, 2018

I loved these tips! So glad I found you on a random search! Needed this little boost of morale and I’m going to up my game with better content! Thanks!
Btw, feel free to follow me on IG! @lilmaisiemarie

Miri Fridman
Miri Fridman

May 31, 2018

Thanks for these great and easy to follow tips. I am slowly building Rosie’s page so will take this info on board.

Sara and Maylee
Sara and Maylee

March 02, 2018

Thank you Stephanie and Django! Django’s account is our family’s favorite – we look forward to his posts everyday!! We can’t seem to crack 190 – but we aren’t trying very hard either ??! Keep the good stuff coming!

Ruby Rose
Ruby Rose

March 02, 2018

Great post!! Thanks for the info!!!

Rebekah Patten
Rebekah Patten

March 02, 2018

I adore you Django! You light up my instagram!! ❤️

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