How Pets Create Winning Content for Brands on Instagram

May 26, 2016

Written by NewsWhip
instagram pet cover

Dogs, cats, and critters drive big engagement on Instagram for brands. We take a look at the successful trends these pets are setting and which breeds are the most popular. 

If dog is man’s best friend, then it’s no surprise dogs are a friend to brands on social media. After noticing more brands using fluffy critters on their Instagram channels, we decided to take a closer look.
We analyzed 15 brands which regularly feature pets on Instagram and compared the engagement of their pet photos against their regular content. The results showed a positive increase for nearly all of the brands, and some saw big engagement.
Let’s dive in.

pets brands instagram comments

The biggest increase in engagement was for Instagram comments, where brands saw up to 295% more comments on content on pets. The average increase in comments of all 15 brands was 89%, while the average increase in likes was 19%. The data comes from our content discovery and analytics platform, NewsWhip Spike

pets brands instagram likes

Sotheby’s saw the most significant impact of the brands we surveyed in combined likes and comments.

Their Instagram showcases the items they have for auction, and the posts with pups make a splash against the otherwise highbrow content. The post above saw 4,949 likes and 161 comments, compared to their average of 2,406 likes and 37 comments.
There are a number of insights we can glean once we start looking at the content.

Positive Effect Across Industries

All of the brands we looked at except Whole Foods, saw a positive increase either likes or comments, or both.
This included food and drink brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coca-Cola, and Justin’s Nut Butter, airlines like Southwest Air and JetBlue, car brands like Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan, clothing brands like REI, ASOS and ModCloth, technology brands like Instagram and GoPro, and even B2B brands like Eventbrite.

Engagement for Brands of All Sizes

Regardless of size, brands saw a surge in likes and comments for adding pets into the mix. Mainstream brands like Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola, to Eventbrite and Justin’s Nut Butter drove engagement with dogs, showing that pets are universally beloved on Instagram.

Hang in there, Napoleon. Weekend is almost here. (?: @sanzzzzz) #weareeb
A photo posted by Eventbrite (@eventbrite) on

This photo from Eventbrite saw 170 likes, compared to their current average of 63, a 170% increase from the average.
A B2B company, Eventbrite has nonetheless been named by Glassdoor as the best company for dog-lovers and their Instagram perfectly captures the love. Many companies are still perceived as being straitlaced or stodgy, so Eventbrite’s Instagram shows their quirky and relatable aspects.

Tech Brands are Really Dedicated to Fluffy Friends

brands instagram often pets

When we surveyed a sampling of brands’ Instagram accounts, we calculated which are posting dog or pet-related content the most frequently. While none of their content is oversaturated with pet content, Eventbrite led the way with 11.4% of content containing dogs.
B2C tech brands Instagram and GoPro followed, with brands that might be considered hipster (ModCloth, Justin’s Nut Butter, and Pabst Blue Ribbon) rounding out the list.

GoPro’s Instagram channel sources user-generated content to show vivid, often thrilling snippets from their followers’ lives. For their pet content, this means getting up close and personal with the fuzzy friends.  The above post saw over 319,000 likes and 9,400 comments. Try NewsWhip Spike to see how trends are taking off on social media

Hashtags Boost Engagement

Many of the brands utilize hashtags to drive visibility and engagement for their animal friends. Instagram uses the hashtag #weeklyfluff to show off featured felines and canines.

This post from Instagram, one of their ‘weekly fluff’ series, saw over 1 million likes and 22,000 comments. Instagram has no problem finding content, since they are the vessel, but they can excite followers and animal lovers by shining the spotlight on a user’s pet each week.
Other brands use the popular #DogsOfInstagram and then there are social media holidays, like National Pet Day, to jump in on.

Say Hello to Pet Influencers

You know pets are stellar for engagement, you know influencers are great too, so why not combine the two for a doubled effect?
Some brands are turning to pet influencers to really rocket their engagement.

This photo by JetBlue, featuring Marnie The Dog, drove over 3,900 likes and 157 comments. JetBlue’s other pet-related content saw between 1,100 and 2,500 likes. Marnie, a shih tzu with her tongue perpetually stuck out, has 1.9 million followers on Instagram to JetBlue’s 154,000.
Mercedes-Benz and Southwest Airlines also both used popular Instagram pets as influencers. Sometimes it’s worth getting a helping paw!
Other brands may turn their Instagram pets into stars of their own.

That feeling when it’s almost Friday. @plumplittlepug
A photo posted by ModCloth (@modcloth) on

ModCloth has an official brand mascot, Winston. Apart from being featured on ModCloth’s site and social media channels, Winston even has his own Instagram, @PlumpLittlePug. The above photo with Winston drove over 6,500 likes and 200 comments for ModCloth.
By giving Winston his own social media account, he’s turned into a character for the brand that fans can follow along with and form a connection to.

Overwhelmed by the cute puppies in this analysis? Take a break with our first ever blog survey and win a chance at free access to Spike

French Bulldogs and Pugs are the It-Dogs

Speaking of pugs, they were one of the most commonly used breeds by brands. However, the number one spot went to French Bulldogs. Even cats, regardless of breed, fell slightly behind French Bulldogs.
Pugs weren’t far behind. Labradors, Labradoodles, Jack Russell Terriers, and Border Collies were also commonly found as featured pets. But many other breeds made appearances, from Chihuahuas to Shibas to Golden Retrievers to “wolf dogs” and more.

Lil’ Twig’s getting an extra squeeze today. #nationalpuppyday

A photo posted by Justin’s (@justins) on

Pugs and French Bulldogs have quirky faces, so perhaps that is what endears them to social media. Or it reflects our culture—French Bulldogs are the fastest rising breed in popularity.  

Who Let the Dogs Out?

It’s not surprising social media embraces pet content, even when more traditional advertising is shunned.
Social media is a place that is meant to be a casual connect directly between brands and consumers. More than ever, with chat-bots, live streams, and more, consumers are more receptive to brands that feel like they have a human element instead of a corporation.
Or, in this case, a pet element.

Want to see the dogs and cats getting the most love for brands? Try NewsWhip Spike for free 


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