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How to turn your pet into a social media star

How to turn your pet into a social media star
Photograph: Courtesy @pardonthyfrench

When I adopted a Shiba Inu in March from a local rescue organization, I quickly noticed something about his new dog friends: He was the only one that didn’t have an Instagram account. When I posted a picture of my puppy, I simply added it to my own account with a caption like, “Look who managed to pass some sidewalk trash today without trying to eat it!” When other people posted pictures of their pets, somehow everyone went through the charade of pretending their dog had humanlike intelligence and the ability to take selfies, edit them and then add a clever caption about “their humans” or whatever.

As it turns out, my friends are smart, and I am not, because making an Instagram account for your dog can actually make you money. You can live off your dog’s Instagram celebrity, people. There are even talent agents who specifically work to make sponsored posts with social-media puppy “influencers.” Meet Loni Edwards, the managing partner of the Dog Agency, which represents Insta-star pups including Tuna of @tunameltsmyheart (1.9 million followers), Harlow of @harlowandsage (1.5 million followers) and this week’s cover star, Chloe of @chloetheminifrenchie (171,000 followers).

“It’s fun, rewarding and lucrative,” Edwards says of social-media sensations. “The humans get to make money creating fun branded content with their furry best friends while spreading happiness all at the same time!” But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. “It’s also important to realize it takes a lot of work,” she says. “For every photo you see on Instagram, there were probably 20-plus photo rejects, editing time, creative concept ideation and copywriting involved,” she adds. And what about clients who haven’t turned this into their full-time job yet? Edwards guesses they spend about “80 percent of the time they’re not at work building and growing the brand.”

Still want to make your pooch famous? Work on finding your pet a niche, advises Edwards. “Create a clear brand for your pet, and stay authentic to it. That includes writing witty, funny copy, posting regularly and engaging with potential fans.” She adds that she’s particularly interested in pets with unique stories, like @louboutinanyc, who’s attracting heat as “the hugging dog.” My pup’s niche would probably be “the farting dog,” to be honest. But I guess they can’t all be celebrities.

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