“Boo the Pomeranian has sent you a friend request on Facebook.”
Studies shows that 6% of people maintain Twitter accounts for their pets while 27% of pet owners have a YouTube page dedicated to their pet. Approximately 14% of dog owners maintain Facebook page for their pet; of those dogs, 42% have 1-25 friends while 20% have 50-100 friends.
Pet lovers all around want their furry friends to have the best treatment and make them feel like part of the family as much as possible. They already have everything from travel agencies and luxury hotels for dogs to iPad apps for cats, so why not social media?
The Early Adopters
Xanga, a popular blogging site back in early 2000, had one of the first instances of a blogging pet. Gromit the dog was an instant hit with bloggers, and although his posts were a jumble of random letters he pressed with his own paws, people loved him. His posts received tons of comments from people who were trying to decipher his cryptic messages.
In December 2010, Mattel picked up on the trend of social pets and created a Twitter-enabled dog collar called “Puppy Tweets.” When the collar detects barking or movements, it will randomly generate a programmed tweet and update it to the dog’s Twitter account.
While showing off your pet’s quirky behaviorism may seem like just another fun thing to do, a lot of social pets have influenced the way people view certain breeds of animals or served as an informative outlet to help people to understand what products are best for their pet.
The Top Dogs (and Cats)
Because of the growing number of socially adept pets, we’ve begun to see a rise in social sites like dogster and catster dedicated specifically for pets in addition to individual Facebook pages, YouTube channels, or blogs.
The world’s cutest dog has been a fixture on Facebook since 2009. Boo keeps his 2.9 million adoring fans entertained by posting photos and videos of himself. With more than 20,000 “likes” on a simple profile picture, Boo’s profile achieves a level of publicity that most marketers could only dream of.
One feline blogger, Romeo, follows the life of a cat on a mission to raise money for animal rescues. While some visit the site out of curiosity, many others are cat enthusiasts who hope to receive tips on the type of products best suited for their furry companion. Romeo was able to raise more than $50,000 in two years for various animal rescues and programs through his extensive network of nearly 10,000 followers.
The networks of pets can help marketers connect to consumers at a more meaningful level than traditional advertising. Targeting people who are pet lovers can be difficult through traditional media; however, utilizing the networks of pets can help better find the right audience pet marketers need to reach.
How Marketers Can Benefit from Social Pets
Marketers are realizing that social media is a way to connect owners to their pets and to overall pet retail sales and services in a virtually recession resistant industry. The sale of pet products and services rose 4.3% in 2010 to approximately $55 billion and is expected to increase nearly 6% in 2012 to $61.4 billion; more and more consumers within this booming segment can be accessed through social media.
So what does this mean for social marketers within the pet industry?
As social networking continues to play an important role in our lives, it should be no surprise that our loyal pals will be an extension of that network.
Having an adorable pet as a spokes-animal for a pet brand can provide further connections between the brand and consumer. If marketers used pets like Boo or Romeo with an extensive fan base for their campaigns, there is no doubt that people will take a look to see what they are talking about.
Forward-looking marketers should consider getting in touch with their cute and fuzzy side.
Ivy Chang, 02.02.12
Friday, 3 February 2012
Posted by Jon Barnard at 12:21