A month ago, my beloved French Bulldog, Elle, was photographed, then featured on @thedogist ‘s account on Instagram. I was curious to watch, not only the amount of likes the photo had on his account, but the after effect of his influence on my account for my dog – @grrlgenius_ . (Side note: my dog did ‘takeover’ my original account, presenting a branding challenge when I started a ‘human’ account at the insistence of friends bemoaning I would never be able to get more than the average 2-3 “likes” on a photo, like everyone else. )
I had been at a Warby “Barker” event, meeting a puppy named Sir William and his outgoing parents, to see him show up on The Dogist’s account. I noted the account did not have a lot of photos yet and under 100 followers prior to the feature. It also seemed like shockingly great luck The Dogist featured them, when it had been an open “dog ambition,” all my friends with dogs (even the ones without an Instagram account) have coveted.
I watched as Sir William’s photos rose over 300 followers and were generally followed back for a 1.5-to-1 (followers to follower), rough ratio. Then Elle was photographed by The Dogist. For six days I waited, prodded by the few people who knew it was going to happen, and even received a message from my boyfriend stating he was “angry with The Dogist. When is he putting up a photo of Elle?” I was amused, but The Dogist, aka Elias, told people to relax, he has events he plans to cover, while forcing myself not to check.
Finally, Elle’s photo went up – the second of four daily posts. I had theorized the spotlight would boost Elle’s followers from 3300 to 5000, given the ratio I had seen on Sir William’s account, factoring in Elle’s account had a lot more content, as well as past experience.
A month later, the account is currently approaching 3800, the influence not as great, as projected. I theorized it might have to do with his account, only bumping numbers up 300. Given, when Instagram’s most famous dog, @tunameltsmyheart posted a photo of Elle last summer, the account numbers doubled over a week. The Dogist’s account had a similar amount of followers (703 k), to Tuna’s account when he tagged Elle. Still, the rise was not life changing.
Social media is about buzz, numbers beget numbers, sometimes regardless of content (see almost ever bad celebrity Twitter account), so I kept my eye on The Dogist’s account, which increases on average, 3000 followers daily. There is a fondness for larger dogs and some people interpreted Elle’s “teefy smile,” combined with the pirate harness as being aggressive. She is a 20 lb. little dog who has never bitten anyone and could not be sweeter.
I asked Elias a week after the post if he ever reads the comments. I knew he used to because he had responded to some of mine when he first began the account, but now he lets the photos speak for themselves.
People tell me all the time they “don’t understand Instagram,” especially when their large social media audience on other platforms do not migrate. It’s a platform I am still experimenting on, now setting more solid goals for my dog’s account with a keen eye on making my passion for her shared on a wider level.
What I have learned: time of day, humor, picture quality all count, color (people are partial to blue over red), hashtags, as well as consistency, but you cannot beat influence, even if it is more incremental than you projected. For instance, the behind-the-scenes photo I posted showing Elias taking Elle’s photo, has over 1000 likes. People are curious about how he gets great dog photos. A good photo will trump all of the factors, but is definitely helped by having exposure to a larger audience.
Are you getting the ‘right’ followers? Is the ratio of your account 10K followers to 100 you follow good? I don’t consider an account influential of the number of likes for each photo is 100 for an account with 10,000 followers. These are all factors I take into account. I will keep growing Elle’s account with quality followers as we connect with the IG community in London.