By Nicki Escudero
Content and Social Media Strategist
Everyone is passionate about their pets, and for some brands, using that passion in the social space makes good sense.
To get an idea of just how much Internet users love their furry, four-legged friends, just look at the myriad of social networking sites there are dedicated exclusively to animals. Dogster, Catster, Fuzzster, United Dogs and United Cats are just a few ways to get your pet virtually connected with other pets around the world, and most of these sites include lots of pet news and learning tools, in addition to deals on pet merchandise for signing up for membership. On Dogster alone, there are more than 700,000 dog profiles, so there is already a huge network of people who pay attention to pets. And when it comes to brands, sometimes making a fur-covered specimen the face of your social media presence is better than having a boring old human as your avatar.
For a pet-focused brand, such as PetSmart or Petco, having a cute little dog or cat interact with users would give those brands extremely unique voices—something that a car company or insurance company wouldn’t be able to get away with. Putting a pet “in charge” of your social media stands out as a unique form of engagement, and receiving marketing messages from an animal might make people more likely to buy than if they were hearing them from people.
Don’t think people will pass off a pet’s voice as useless or phony—social media users are prone to interact with anthropomorphic things, pets included. Chances are great fans of your pet-powered brand’s social media profiles will give your pet virtual treats, pet the animal and address him or her as if they had a genuine connection with the pet.
Having a pet power your brand’s profile could also serve as a great reputation management tool. Whereas people might berate a brand online when they’re unhappy, it’s more difficult to express frustration and anger towards adorable animals. And because pets evoke such warm and fuzzy emotions in animal lovers, having a pet as the face of your brand may make people warm and fuzzy about what you’re trying to sell them.
Pet profiles are also great tools in starting discussions, since pets have such unique outlooks on the world. If your pet’s personality is interesting and engaging, it’s a surefire way to drive more people to your brand’s page and keep them coming back again and again.
To make an animal with no real human voice relevant to human social media users, first determine what kind of personality your pet social media guru has. What’s important to them? What are their priorities in life? What is their relationship like with humans, and how can you translate that into what you post? If your pet is posting about a product, have them tell people why that product is valuable to them. If the pet is posting about an event, have them make it known why other pets should be there. Put yourself in the pet’s paws before you write anything—would they use sophisticated vocabulary? Probably not—make his or her voice fun and believable.
To really maximize your pet avatar in the social sphere, consider making profiles for the pet on as many social networking sites as possible, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Tumblr and Klout. Since each social networking site serves different purposes, having multiple profiles exposes your brand to more people and allows you to appear more genuine, plus post more content—everything from product promotions, to videos featuring the brand mascot to photos that show both the mascot and the products you want to promote.
Make sure the brand pet interacts with users, too, and doesn’t just push out messages related to the brand. By having the brand’s mascot create real connections with people, even if it’s just to virtual lick them once in awhile or announce that his or her trip to the vet went well, makes users really like the pet and feel like they can trust the pet and the messages the pet is pushing. Plus, by interacting with potential clients, your brand’s messages will be more likely to appear in their social media streams over other brands.
Just like pets in real life can bring lots of smiles to human faces, pets online can also put people in a great mood, which might make them more likely to spend their money on your brand—and that’s almost as treat-worthy as a bone!