When it comes to Instagram, pet brands have a paw up on everyone else. After all, posting an adorable puppy photo isn’t just an easy way to call attention to our business…it is our business!
But to really stand out on this wildly popular platform, pet brands need to go a step beyond photogenic fuzzies. Giving your audience a broader view of your company can go a long way toward creating interest, generating word of mouth, and strengthening brand loyalty…all of which can ultimately lead to more sales.
For businesses that spend most of their time focused on pets, pets, and more pets, it can be a little challenging to come up with something else to post. Believe me, I know! But I’ve discovered five fun and effective ways pet brands can expand their Instagram reach. Many of these still incorporate pets, but in a way that’s more engaging and interesting than the standard cute and cuddly pet pic.
Give Them a Peek Behind the Curtain
These days, consumers prefer to do business with companies that seem relatable and approachable. Allowing your audience to peek behind the scenes gives them a chance to see that your company is made up of real people who genuinely want to make life better for them and their pets.
There are a variety of ways to do this. Periodically feature an employee along with some “fun facts” about themselves, their hobbies, their pets, or their job. If there’s something special your company is doing – for instance, volunteering at a community event – post a short video along with a description. When coming up with ideas, think outside the box and involve your staff by asking for their input.
Share User-Generated Content
Because Instagram allows users to tag others in their posts, be sure to regularly check out what your audience is saying about you and then join in the conversation. This is a great opportunity to make your brand stand out by taking a personal interest in and engaging with customers and potential customers.
By doing this, you’ll likely come across amazing user-generated content that you can then share through your account. For example, maybe someone has posted a video of their pet enjoying your product. Or maybe there’s a spectacular photo that has nothing to do with pets at all. Sharing content from others not only adds interest to your account, it helps you reach a whole new audience. Be sure to write your own caption (including the original caption if needed for clarity) and tag the original poster using @+their handle.
Most of us love a quote that inspires us or causes us to think. That’s why a beautiful quote, especially when paired with a beautiful photo, is so readily shared. While you probably don’t want to overdo it, posting an inspirational quote – both pet-related and not – to your account from time to time can really grab attention.
There are countless resources for great quotes, but I’m especially fond of Brainy Quote. You can search for quotes by topic or author, and they even have quotes that have already been designed with pictures. If you’d rather use your own picture and don’t have an in-house designer, check out PicMonkey or Canva for online photo editor software.
Hop Aboard Holidays, News, and Trends
Just about every day, we celebrate a holiday in this country. Aside from the big ones, there are many that are completely obscure but a lot of fun. Keeping track of and “celebrating” a few of these little known holidays is always a great way to get participation from your followers. You can even create your own hashtag around the holiday and ask users to share photos using it. A list of pet holidays can be found at Holiday Insights.
In addition, be aware of hot trends and topics being discussed both within the pet industry and without. Hashtags are the best way to do this but it’s a little tricky since, unlike Twitter, Instagram doesn’t show users what’s currently trending. However, apps like Hashtap can give you an idea of what’s trending based on hashtags and/or topics.
Host a Promotion or Giveaway
The key word in social media is social. It’s a conversation, not a one-sided advertisement. That’s why brands that attempt to constantly sell or promote on their platforms are doomed to failure. However, it wouldn’t be smart marketing if you didn’t occasionally promote your business or product.
When doing so, try to stay conversational and keep within the brand voice that you’ve established on Instagram. This is a perfect time to bring in that photo of a cute puppy using your product, along with a link to where people can buy it. Take it a step further with giveaways, which are always popular and terrific for spreading the word to a broader audience. This is especially effective when you create a specific hashtag and ask your followers to share it for additional chances to win.
Ready to put these ideas into action? An editorial calendar is an indispensible tool that will help you keep track of what you’re posting and when. Just remember to be flexible as well, so that you’re able to take advantage of new ideas and trending topics while they’re still hot.
Related to the “Share User-Generated Content” advice – unless your product has a “natural” propensity to motivate people to talk about you on social media, you’re going to need to actively help your customers do this. You’re the one who needs to get creative and make it easy (and clear!) about what you want your customers to say/do, and you need to encourage it to happen using calls to action. (Hint: This is something Kristen Levine can help with…!)
That is so true! Running a contest, or offering to feature user images on your profile can go a long way toward encouraging people to share with you!