#Dogsofinstagram. Yes, that’s an official hashtag. The dogs of Instagram are increasingly popular. In fact, sponsors are becoming more and more interested in featuring dog products (and other products!) in a dog’s account.
Case in point: Sinatra, also known as @alfrescodog on Instagram. A golden retriever service dog, Sinatra likes to explore, especially if there’s snow to roll around. He doesn’t understand what cold is, but he likes ice cream. And he’ll sit on your foot when he wants more cuddles.He’ll eventually travel to all continents, but he’s currently just around the U.S. and Canada, visiting cities, national parks, local attractions, and the occasional lake to go for a swim.
On a more professional note, Sinatra has worked with pet brands, as well as the travel industry. His Instagram page is focused on inspiring people to take their dogs and explore life together.
We interviewed Sinatra’s owner about his Instagram, and how you, too, can get sponsorship opportunities for your pet profile.
You are a friendly dog who is traveling through the USA and Canada. How did you get started on Instagram and why did you decide to become an influencer?
Yes, my name is Sinatra, and I’m a friendly golden retriever service dog! I got started on Instagram because as far as I can remember, my hooman Comrade has constantly been taking pictures of me, and he eventually decided to create my own Instagram account to document our life together.
I want to become an influencer to inspire and influence people to take their dogs with them and explore life together. That is our objective. We also work with brands, and that’s nice, but our goal is to strengthen the positive bond between hoomans and dogs.
What was (or is!) the most difficult part of becoming an influencer, and how did you reach 47K followers?
It’s the way Instagram can sometimes punish you, especially when they don’t tell you what’s wrong. For instance, we might be on a train or bus, or we might be camping alone at night, with lots of free time. And we decide to comment, like, and engage for a couple of hours. Soon after, I’m not able to like my friends’ photos! Balancing that is tough. Sometimes we have lots of time, and sometimes we don’t have time at all. And Instagram wants you to be more active, but they also punish you if you overdo it.
Another tricky part is the transition between receiving a product for a post and getting paid for that post.
Now, I know the number of followers is important, but the focus should be on growing your engagement rate. However, if you want some advice to improve your following, try to go viral on Reddit. But be warned! It can steal a lot of time away, without any results.
What advice would you give to young bloggers on finding a niche and excelling at it?
Find a niche where you can be the expert.
What? Oh, my Comrade says you should do the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator test. Because if you know what your personality’s strengths and weaknesses are, you’ll narrow down your niche. For instance, if your strength is to be friendly, you should blog about the friends you meet. If administrative tasks are your weakness, then don’t blog about the minimum amount of legroom each airline carrier has.
You have worked with dog brands, but also with Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. How did you approach these brands and what are the tips to create a connection of trust, especially when you are starting out? How much can bloggers starting out expect to get paid for posts?
Scratch their ears before asking them to scratch yours! Visit their website and find out what is their priority. Did they recently launch a new product or service? What message are they trying to push? Once you know, post about it. And then, get in touch with them, just to let them know about it, to let them know you exist and open up a dialogue.
Just think about it. If someone you don’t know approaches you all of a sudden and asks you to buy their poem, you would probably say no. However, if that someone tells you he or she wrote a poem about you and gave it to you for free, would you be interested in reading the poem? And which poet would you be more likely to buy from in the future?
If you’re just starting out, you should expect to get free product as payment. Brands need to know you can be trusted before they offer you any contract that links you to them. Any decent contract will include a termination clause to protect themselves if you ever become involved in anything that can reflect unfavorably upon their reputation.
They need to trust you first.
In your “dog” opinion, what is the key to a “pawsome” engagement with a post on Instagram?
Imagine your posts will be displayed without your name or anything that could tell people those posts are yours. And they’re going to be buried under dozens or hundreds of other posts. If your followers can still recognize your posts, out of all the other posts around them, it means you’re being authentic. Even if you’re not original, you can be authentic. What are you doing that sets you apart from the rest? That will make you stand out, and that will bring engagement.