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Tips to make your dog Insta-famous.

Is your smart, talented and super-cute dog born to be a star, with an adoring fan base that rivals One Direction – or at least David Coulier? Dogs Manny (manny_the_frenchie), Maddie (thiswildidea) and Momo (andrewknapp) have between half a million and 1.2 million Instagram followers each, not to mention sponsors. Put your canine’s special appeal to the test, and improve your social media savvy in the process, by launching your own dog on Instagram.

Why Instagram?
While Facebook is about communicating within your own network, Instagram is full of people searching out new connections that match their interests. It’s also one of the most visual social platforms, built around photos and short videos. In other words, it’s a natural showcase for “cute.”

What pictures or videos should I choose?
Even the most appealing of pets won’t be a hit on Instagram if their pictures don’t do them justice. As a baseline, pictures need to be well lit and in focus. Beyond that, it does take a photogenic pet and a reasonably capable photographer to capture a pet’s personality. It may help to think about a story you can tell about your pet and his/her life through your photos and videos. For example, some of the most followed pets on Instagram are dog siblings (corgis Corgnelius and Stumphrey), a dog and young boy with a special bond (Theo and Beau of mommasgonecity), and a dog whose owner has turned him into a fashion icon (Menswear Dog). Funny situations, interesting settings, costumes and unusual camera angles can also create more interesting and appealing photos, but in the end they should be used to enhance your pet’s unique appeal, not overshadow it.

Are there strategies for adding captions and hashtags?
When posting any picture, you have the option to add captions and hashtags. Captions can be used to enhance the story your picture is telling; if you have a flair for making them funny, even better. There are several things to keep in mind when adding hashtags. Hashtags do help your photos or videos reach new audiences, but many Instagram users are turned off by long strings of hashtags. One strategy is to post your photo or video with a caption and a couple of hashtags, then comment on your own photo or video and put additional hashtags in your comment. You can identify widely searched hashtags by seeing what hashtags other experienced users with similar content are using. There are also free apps, such as TagsforLikes, that can steer you to strong hashtags.

What are the best ways to build followers?
Strong content, posting new content consistently and making savvy use of hashtags are critical to adding followers, but Instagram is a virtual community and really engaging with any community requires making connections and building relationships. There is an unspoken etiquette on Instagram; if other users think you are only interested in adding followers instead of making genuine connections with them, they may shy away from following you. In other words, just following other Instagram users isn’t the best way to get them to follow you. Taking the time to comment on other peoples’ content, and to like it or share it, is an essential part of growing your relationships and your following.

How will I know what is working?
The most obvious way to see what is striking a chord is to look at which of your photos or videos have received the most likes and comments. If you see the most popular images have something in common, consider that when posting new content. If you’re ready to get more serious about identifying what’s working for you, there are also free analytics apps (such as Command for Instagram or Iconosquare), that can give you additional insights. Use them to determine the best time of day to put up a new post, track the growth of your followers over time, see how various hashtags have performed, and much more.

Whether your pup has ten followers or over a million, The Benjamin will treat him or her like a celebrity when they join you for a stay. Our goodDOG program even includes an in-room pet mini-bar with treats and non-alcoholic Bowser Beer. Click here for online reservations at The Benjamin and please be sure to notify our concierge (bnconcierge@thebenjamin.com) that you are planning to bring your pet so that a dog bed can be ready for his or her arrival.

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