Animals are showing they can be exceptional social media influencers. They offer several natural advantages over humans. They gain followers and produce enormous numbers of comments, likes and shares more easily than humans. People are naturally attracted to photos of dogs and cats – and raccoons, hedgehogs and monkeys.
“Pet influencers outperform humans,” Loni Edwards, founder of the Dog Agency, one of the growing number of agencies that specializes in representing animal influencers, told The New York Times. They’re also safer, as they pose little or no risk of causing a reputation-damaging faux pas that prompts brand partners to hastily sever links.
Pets Promote Many Different Products
The animals promote almost anything – clothing, cars and Scotch-Brite lint rollers in addition to pet food and products. Pets with followers running in the hundreds of thousands can charge fees of $3,000 to $10,000 for each piece of content. Leading brands such as Zappos, Mercedes-Benz, Purina, Pizza Hut, Procter & Gamble and Google have partnered with animals.
Like human influencers, the pets favor Instagram. The animals — and their human owners — also worry about appearing authentic, although their fans seem to readily accept animals as authentic.
“You don’t notice that you are getting advertised to, or you don’t care, because you’re seeing a super cute dog,” Katie Sturino, owner of Toast, a four-legged influencer, explained to Fortune.
Some Top Animal Influencers
HubSpot editor Karla Cook cites some of the most popular beasts.
One of the best known animal influencers is Loki, a wolf-dog mix associated with the Mercedes-Benz 2017 GLS SUV. “Loki and his story aligned particularly well with our SUV portfolio,” Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for Mercedes-Benz USA, told Digiday. “Our research has shown that a large number of SUV owners have pets.”
Loki’s majestic appearance is perfect for brands seeking to cultivate a rugged, outdoor image. He has also partnered with GoPro, Rigid Industries LED Lighting, and Google Photos.
Owner Kelly Lund donates revenue from Loki’s merchandise and sponsorships to animal charities Canine Support Teams and Eagle Trail Mountain Wolf Sanctuary.
Nala, a Siamese and Tabby mix with baby blue eyes and short, chubby legs, is photogenic – even for a cat. The feline has 3.4 million Instagram followers (@nala_cat). She’s been featured on media outlets like BuzzFeed and Daily Mail, and has sponsorships with major brands like Friskies, Persil ProClean and Zappos. Her owner, Varisiri Methachittiphan, also has another cat, Mr. White (@white_coffee_cat), who has 1.3 million Instagram followers
Pumpkin, a rescued Bahamian raccoon, has 1.2 million Instagram followers (@pumpkintheraccoon). She has a book, “Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog” and her own popcorn brand. She’s been featured on CBS, ABC, EW, and TV specials for BCC and Animal Planet.
Bottom Line: More brands realize that animals can be superb social media influencers. Dogs, cats and more exotic animals enjoy a natural charisma that attracts followers and gains outsized engagement.