Boo: One name says it all, especially for the more than 6 million fans who follow the pompadoured Pomeranian superstar of cuteness on Facebook. That could be your dog, too, right?
With more than 1 billion people on Facebook and nearly 78 million dogs calling the United States home, there are indeed masses of mutts and parades of pedigrees gracing social media pages. If you have a dog and a social media account, why not create a social media following to rival the likes of, well, Boo? Here are some tips to make it happen.
1. Time to walk the dog blog
People start dog blogs for a variety of reasons, including giving their pooch a voice, showcasing her latest travel adventures, or even to share pet-friendly restaurants. With pet bloggers representing a big part of cyberspace, you’ll hardly be alone if you start a blog.
First consider why you want to blog, whether it will be written in canine or human voice, and how much time you want to commit. Disney even has a show devoted to the concept, Dog With a Blog — pet blogging has indeed become a force to be reckoned with. BlogPaws, a social media company founded in 2009, brings the online pet community together with yearly conferences that are pet friendly — dogs are even welcome in the classrooms.
2. Take an interest in Pinterest
We’re a visual and socially connected society, and dogs are very social beings. Dog moms and dads fill their smartphones with photos of their canine family members. Pinterest encourages, fosters, and helps grow your furry obsession into something connected to other dog lovers.
Pinning is a form of micro-blogging, very much like Twitter and Facebook, but without the heavy verbal commitment. If getting your dog recognized is your goal, give Pinterest a try. And check out Instagram for more photo-capture fabulousness.
3. Facebook — with a catch
Yes, your dog can have a Facebook page, but there is a catch. Thanks to more than 83 million fake Facebook accounts, Mark Zuckerberg & Co. are cleaning house, including pages occupied by dogs. Accounts that will be removed include personal pages set up improperly. Be sure to use the Facebook “Pages” option to set up a canine account.
Facebook, like much of the social media landscape, is very image based. If you like taking pictures and want to give your dog a voice, Facebook has a place for your pooch. Friend fellow tail-waggers, and remember that Facebook is very much like the dog park: Follow the rules, have fun, respect others, and be social yet not intrusive.
4. Twitter jitters
Twitter is more lax when it comes to animals having their own accounts. Have you been to a “pawty” or participated in an online animal chat? Businesses and brands host Twitter parties where the atmosphere is pet friendly — because oftentimes the pets do the talking. Millions of dollars are being made in the name of dog. Brands have become savvy to what dog parents want, and as a PR and social media guru in the pet industry, I can attest firsthand (and paw) that tweets by pets are being watched.
How can you get your dog noticed? Above all, follow other pet people. It might seem time consuming and daunting, but if your plan is to create a doggie diva, Twitter needs to be a part of it.
5. I sniff you, you sniff me
Growing an online presence takes time. Think like your dog: He meets a new dog, and in most cases, an exchange of sniffs occurs. The same philosophy should be applied online. You know that person who talks nonstop at a party, rambling about me-me-me? It works the same way. If you want a following, be a good follower. Reciprocity rules; I sniff you, you sniff me.
6. Walk away from the blinky box
Experience life. Go for walks, engage in face-to-face banter, and then infuse those experiences into your dog’s social media presence. I have a “rules of writing” poster here in my office, and one of the basic principles is to stop writing and go do something. I find humor in things my dog does when on play dates, traveling, going for walks, and meeting new people. I am able to write about those experiences. Probably 80 percent of my inspiration happens within a 10-mile radius of my home, but thousands of followers know about it. It’s amazing how dogs can bring us together, isn’t it? We’re one big happy dog park, in a sense.
7. Say cheese
Finally, take your camera wherever you go. If you have a smartphone with a camera, use it. Snap pictures at the pet supply store, the dog park, the vet’s waiting room, and wherever your dog goes. No need to go pup-arazzi style, but the funniest and most engaging visual moments I’ve shared have been when my dog is doing sweet and innocent nothings — which can turn into big somethings online.
There you have it. It might not happen overnight, but social-media stardom can be done. Be sure to never put a dog in harm’s way or make her do anything uncomfortable or upsetting in order to get a good photo or post. Most of all, avoid pitfalls by having fun and bonding with your dog. It worked for Timmy and Lassie in the well, and it works for Boo and his mom on Facebook.
Does your dog have a social-media presence? Bark at me below and share your links. I love making new friends as much as my dog does. You can follow my Dexter on Facebook.