Long gone are the days where pets are merely viewed as a separate part of the household. Now, pets are part of the family.

This means that the way that people view animals has changed a lot over the last few years. For this reason, pet influencers can be so valuable for a brand — if they are incorporated into their marketing in the right ways.

Brands can make these furry friends part of their marketing strategy and reach a wider audience. This is because pets don't just appeal to 'pet parents' but to a lot more people.

For example, pet influencer Tucker Budzyn, an AKC Golden Retriever, has 4.09 million YouTube subscribers and partnered with Vessi shoes. These shoes are 100% waterproof. So, although the brand is not specifically marketing the product to pet owners who go on walks, they do make use of a pet influencer to show how these shoes can better the lives of pet owners.

media update's Talisa Carlson spoke to Justin Kline, founder of Markerly, an influencer marketing agency and his team to gain some insight into the secret world of pets.

So, let's get right to it:

What exactly is a pet influencer?

A pet influencer is a pet or pet owner who has amassed a sizable following on social media.

This happens in all kinds of ways — extremely cute, unique-looking and well-behaved animals, owners with great pet-owning tips, or people who have animal-related professions [for example a vet or animal behaviourist].

In what context would a brand make use of pet influencers?

The most obvious reason [a brand would utilise a pet influencer] would be to promote pet-related products, brands, or services. Perhaps a dog food brand wants to show off a new flavour by having influential dogs do taste testing on TikTok.

[Another example is] Petsmart perhaps having a new grooming process or product and they'd like to activate pet influencers to create before and after photos of the process.

There are plenty of reasons that a brand might want to work with pet influencers.

What sets these influencers apart in being an advantageous way of approaching pet owners?

Pet owners love other people's pets. Cat lovers tend to follow other cats' [profiles] on Instagram and dog lovers like to follow [content that is all about dogs].

Traditional ads are increasingly becoming tuned out by consumers. If a product or service is introduced within the context of a familiar, furry face, they’re much less likely to overlook it.

When and why would you make use of a pet influencer in content that does not necessarily target pet owners? Would this content generally still resonate with ‘fur parents’?

Despite the inclination that pet influencers are exclusively effective within the context of pet brands and pet owners, the opposite is often the case. We've all seen examples of pets who gained notoriety through being 'memed', like the famous "Grumpy Cat."

*Image sourced from QuotesBae

A pet influencer like that is so well-known that it transcends the world of just pets and pet owners. Everyone knew [who] Grumpy Cat was, so [adding this cat] in any sort of social media campaign would draw eyeballs— pet-related or not.

On what social media platforms are you most likely to find fur parents? And what are the best practices for pet influencers to reach this audience?

If you have a pet that’s cute or has a unique look — like Grumpy Cat — Instagram is going to be your best bet. You can get the perfect shot, the perfect angle and the perfect look —all for fur parents [to] marvel at.

If you have a pet who's known for how interesting they are while in action (e.g. a dog who is extremely well-trained and can perform all sorts of eye-popping tricks) then you'll want to [post on] TikTok or give an Instagram video [a try] so that pet owners can see your furry friend in action.

Animal videos are extremely popular and have a penchant for going viral; everyone loves seeing a dog do something incredible.

Can you provide an example of where a pet influencer was successful in a campaign that was not targeting pet owners specifically?

There are endless examples of great campaigns that use pet influencers without specifically targeting pet owners. Real estate companies, financial services, lifestyle brands and dozens more have all taken advantage of cute animals to promote their products and services.

It works, not because the animal is necessarily relevant to the product or service but because people will likely stop scrolling for a second if they see an adorable cat, dog or any other animal.

Oftentimes, non-pet owners love a cute dog just as much as the rest. Take a look at the dog JiffPom, one of the most popular pet influencers on Instagram with over ten million followers.

*Image sourced from Instagram

This pup has led successful campaigns with Ulta Beauty's Vegan Beauty makeup line, Cadbury Chocolate and TikTok itself.

*Image sourced from AP News

People will stop scrolling to take a look at a cute dog, no matter what they're selling.

In recent years, has there been a change in culture regarding how animals are seen in the family unit? Why do you think this is? And how have pet influencers either risen to the occasion or adapted to accommodate this change?

Social media, in general, has had a profound effect on how we view our relationships with our pets. Whether they rise to the status of influencer or not is another question. We’re even seeing trends [where] people create Instagram accounts dedicated exclusively to their cats or dogs.

Social media is now built into the experience of owning a pet. Movie star, Chris Evans, has remarked that he joined Instagram solely because his dog was too cute to not show off.

*Image sourced from Instagram

Because of this, we tend to not only see pets as a friend in the family but also as an asset that one might be able to share with the world and potentially capitalise on.

If someone wants to make their cat famous, they’re going to have to rise to the occasion and treat the endeavor just as a professional artist would treat their own career.

Do you follow any pet influencers on social media? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Speaking of our four-legged friends and the marketing industry, why not mix the two and read Five tips from dogs to marketers.
*Image courtesy of Pexels