Get with the ‘Gram
By Jessica Freni
Instagram, 500+ MILLION DAILY ACTIVE users. Are you one of them? More importantly, is your breeding program?
By the Numbers
- 500+ million daily users
- 3M #adoptdontshop
- 913k #purebred, 55.4k #purebreddogs, 1.3 #akc and only 14.9k #preservationbreeder
- 7M #doodlesofinstagram
- Most popular breeds on Instagram (by hashtags): husky (19.6M), French bulldog (32.1M), corgi (11.7M), German Shepherd (17.5M), pug (21.9M) , Golden retriever (28M), bulldog (20.7)
- Most popular dogs on Instagram by followers:
JiffPom (Pomeranian) 10.2M
Doug the Pug (Pug) 3.9M
Marutaro (Shiba Inu) 2.5M
Tuna (mixed breed) 2.1M
Marnie (rescue) 1.7M
A few years back, I was working as a nanny, for two families, both of whom decided they wanted a dog. Both families lived in the suburbs with ample yards, had school aged children/tweens, the parents all had college degrees and good income. They were well qualified families with good resources, who were in the market to buy puppies from breeders vs rescue. One family was enamored with so called “silver ” Labradors, the other with “designer breeds” (particularly “maltipoo”, “yorkipoo”, etc ). Despite being families prone to copious amounts of research when making large commitments/purchases, neither family was even considering a well-bred, purposefully bred puppy from a Preservation breeder. It was an educational opportunity on both parts, I gave them information about purebred predictability, health testing, breeder support, the gamble of mixed breed dogs, etc and they have me some insight into the mind of pet people.
What was the driving force between the desire to seek out fad color or mixed breed dogs? A large segment of the American public will not even consider a puppy from a breeder, they are firmly entrenched in “adopt don’t shop” mentality and firmly convinced that there’s an “overpopulation crisis” and all breeders are “puppy mills”. These people are very hard to reach, but there’s still a portion of families seeking out puppies, increasingly so during the pandemic, so why are they not even considering purebred dogs bred to breed standards? Maybe the answer is complex, but maybe at least some of it is quite simple.
They want what they see. The show community is very good at marketing to itself- posed win pictures, beautifully groomed portraits, show candids and ads boasting accomplishments and titles… but is overall failing to reach the pet public. Why does this matter? Because not every puppy is a show puppy and we need quality pet homes who then become breed ambassadors and advocates. People do not care about that which doesn’t affect them. If they do not see a breed, share them home with the breed and in turn feel love and loyalty for the breed they do not care about its breeders or conservation.
I did manage to get through to one of the families, they are now happily owned by a BMD who is the perfect fit for their active lifestyle. The other family, sadly, ended up with a generic “poo” mix. When I asked why they chose their puppy, the answer was interesting. Their family’s choice was largely driven by their elementary and middle school age daughters. These daughters saw “doodles” and “poos” in their neighborhood, in the homes of their friends, but more so they were inundated with them on social media. They followed cute puppy pictures on Instagram and silly videos on TikTok, where they just did not see any purebred dogs or their breeders. This is where doodle and fad breeders have been highly effective and successful in marketing themselves and their dogs.
Instagram is a great (free!) resource and education opportunity, especially for reaching younger demographics – otherwise they’re inundated with doodles, fad colors and # adoptdontshop (another social media channel to branch out to is tiktok). We have to increase visibility by going where the people are, this is where doodle and so called “designer” breeds have excelled, marketing themselves and getting their dogs in front of a large audience.
Getting Started and Succeeding on IG
- Create a free account with a descriptive user name , ex. @(yourkennelname) or @(your breed)
- Post content in your feed and stories daily
- Mix education into fun posts, easily accessible, short and in a way that isn’t “snobby”
- Highlight your breed, breed history, abilities, care, breeder information
- Show pictures are great, but balance these with “cute” or even “silly” pictures and short reels (videos) or tiktok videos. Popular content includes puppies getting puppies, dogs dressed up, post from dog perspective, lounging around the house or playing in the yard
- HASHTAGS, HASHTAGS, HASHTAGS these are crucial for expanding reach and not just a variety of breed related ones, but wide audience ones like #puppy, #puppylove, #dogs, #doglife, #dogmom, etc try to use 7-10 hashtags per post