Furry Influencers and Their Fans
 

Furry Influencers and Their Fans

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We humans LOVE our pets. ...

We humans LOVE our pets.

We’re owning more of them: 68% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 82.5 millions homes and, in Canada, over half of Canadian households own at least one pet for an estimated 26 million pets.

We’re spending more on them: in the US, spending on pets has tripled in the past 20 years to an estimated $58.51 billion in 2014 and, in Canada alone, we spent $6.6 billion in 2013.

But the most gob-smacking trend that is happening in the world of pets is social media.

In fact, there are estimated to be around 23 million social media accounts set up as profiles for animals.

Of course, the animals themselves aren’t running the accounts, but many of these accounts have more followers than humans and brands.

The inaugural study in the Exploring Digital Cultures series takes a deeper look into the phenomenon of pets as influencers. We look into who the influencers are, what spurred them to begin posting, how did they grow their audience, are they cashing in on this new found fame, who are their followers and why do people follow them? What is it that is so compelling that millions of people follow these fake accounts – fully knowing that it isn’t the dogs and cats themselves doing the posting. We also look at the way some of these influencers are working with brands and where the industry is going.

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Furry Influencers and Their Fans Furry Influencers and Their Fans Presentation Transcript

  • Furry Influencers and their fans A Study on “Petworking” by MSLGROUP in Canada For more information contact: tara.hunt@mslgroup.com 416-847-1304 Exploring Digital Cultures | No 1
  • We Humans LOVE Our Pets. We’re owning more of them: 68% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 82.5 millions homes and, in Canada, over half of Canadian households own at least one pet for an estimated 26 million pets. Pet Ownership According to the 2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, In the US ... 62% Own A Pet 36% Own A Dog 30% Own A Cat “Pet owners treat their cats and dogs like people,” - Louis McCann, president and CEO of PIJACC.
  • How Much Money Do We Spend On Our Pets? We’re spending more on them: in the US, spending on pets has tripled in the past 20 years to an estimated $58.51 billion in 2014 and, in Canada alone, we spent $6.6 billion in 2013. Canadians are feeding our pets more premium brands, therefore spending more per pet than before. In a report by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJACC), they found the greatest growth in spending on our pets is on premium pet foods and eco-friendly pet services as well as pet sitting, dog-walking, pet spas and puppy kindergartens. World Wide Spending According to Euromonitor International’s statistics these are the global figures for spending (by the millions)... 6.5k 2013 6.3k 2012 32.5k 2013 31.5k 2012 31.1k 2011 94.9k 2013 92.3k 2012 91.9k 2011 World Wide North America Canada
  • Fuzzy Feelings We have a long history with our furry babies. Dogs are estimated to be first domesticated around 33,000 years ago and cats around 7,500 [ref]. They’ve become an integral part of our everyday lives and families. There is just something about these little guys that bring us endless joy. It’s more than a fuzzy feeling that attracts us to pets. Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat can help lower blood pressure and dogs are brought into the leading medical institutions to help improve the rate of healing for patients. There is a psychological AND physiological benefit to interacting with pets.
  • Maddie 517k followers US Menswear Dog 89k followers NYC Snoopy Babe 256 followers China Sir Charles Barkely 200k followers Seattle Lil Bub 417k followers Bloomington, IN Norm The Pet Collective 322k subscribers 230k followers Seattle WA LA Hamilton 490k followers SF (Maru) MuguMogo 448k followers Japan Mean Kitty 357k followers Caalifornia Theo & Beau 436k followers SF Miska 570k followers NJ Marutaro 822k followers Japan Tuna 800k followers LA Boo 12M fans US Keyboard Cat 35.5M viewers Spokane, WA Sockington Scott 1.36M followers Waltham, MA Grumpy Cat 221k followers Arizona Manny the Frenchie 400k followers Chicago Friskies Spokes Cats International BarkBox Spokes Dogs Too Cute Featured Products Support Chairities Kermit Marbles 90k subscribers LA shironekoshiro 115k subscribers Japan Sam Has Eyebrows 135k followers NYC Theme Song The Pioneers
  • But the most gob-smacking trend that is happening in the world of pets is social media. Some Of The Most Followed Twitter, Instagram & You Tube Stars are Pets! In fact, there are estimated to be around 23 million social media accounts set up as profiles for animals. Of course, the animals themselves aren’t running the accounts, but many of these accounts have more followers than humans and brands. Talking Animals 970k subscribers West Coast It is estimated that there are Ridley Hunt 3k followers BC over 23 million social accounts Toronto that are pet profiles. [ref] Milo 6k subscribers Toronto Lil Theezy 5k subscribers Vancouver Mikey 17k followers Vancouver Canadian Pets Orca Cat 11.5k followers West Coast Toby 9.5k followers Toronto Gizmo 3.3k followers
  • Furry Influence I know what you are thinking, because I wondered the same thing: “I have a dog. He is cute, but nothing exciting. He mostly just eats, poops and sleeps. Why would anyone follow that day in and day out, let alone millions of any ones?” Good question and it’s one that I’m diving into for this inaugural Digital Culture Deep Dive topic: Furry Influencers and their Fans. I’ll be covering: Who are these furry influencers? Where are they from? Who runs their social media channels? What are they doing with their new found celebrity Who are the fans? Why do people follow these animals? Where is this all going?
  • Ridley : Pug In Da Club I’ve been following a few pets for quite sometime. In fact, I set up a Twitter account for my newly rescued pug, Ridley in 2008. It was more of a lark than anything. I was a fan of I Can Has Cheezburger, friends with the founders of Dogster and had heard about a few non-human Twitter accounts like Sockington the cat that were growing in numbers of followers. As a social media advisor, I thought it would be pertinent to set up a twitter account for my pug, even if it was just for the experience of it. I was living in San Francisco at the time - near the epicentre of the startup scene - and ran into Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable, while out for a walk one day. Being a dog lover, he was quite taken with Ridley and, when I remarked that he even has his own Twitter account, Pete made a note of it. A few days later, Mashable featured a piece on non-human Twitter accounts to follow and Ridley was on the list. Thanks to this boost, he gained thousands of followers overnight. But I never really took advantage of his follower-base. I thought about it, but I had so many projects that already required my attention that I couldn’t keep up with and, really, what on earth would a pug say day after day that would keep an audience interested? Every now and then I’d tweet something funny I imagined he was thinking or a cute photo, but mostly I ignored the account. He now has over 3,700 followers and a vine video that went a bit viral (240,000+ re-vines, 306,000 likes). That was totally by accident and we’re still scratching our heads on why people loved it. Ridley Hunt 3k followers Toronto
  • Petworking Meanwhile, ‘petworking’ was growing into quite a phenomenon right under my nose. Little did I know that building Ridley’s brand would have been a much better bet than any of my other projects. Sockington’s followers ballooned into the millions, Boo the Pomeranian, whose adorably-oversized head caught the attention of celebrities, was signing book deals and stuffed versions of himself. And dozens of other cats, dogs and other domesticated animals were growing audiences and businesses off of their fan base. But the whole thing still seemed silly to me. I knew I had to take this stuff seriously when I came across a Grumpy Cat beer cozy for sale at The Bay. And I knew this was bigger than a trend when, on Mother’s Day this year, I saw almost as many ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ posts to pet parents (from their furry children) as I did from human children. Is the rise in furry influencers resulting in an overall change in perception about our pets? Or is the changing perception of our pets in a post-scarcity world resulting in the phenomenon of furry influencers? Nobody *really* cared about a dog or cat in adorable poses day after day. Did they? Well, for better or for worse, they did and they do. - Tara hunt of MSLGroup
  • A Few Furry Influencers & Their Pet Parents One of the most famous and successful dogs online is Boo, the Pomeranian, who is known as the “World’s Cutest Dog”. Boo has nearly 13 million fans on Facebook (joined May 7, 2009) and 363,129 followers on Instagram. He resides in San Francisco, California and is the furry baby of a Facebook employee who tries to stay anonymous, but was outed by AllThingsD, as Irene Ahn (she wouldn’t respond to requests from journalist Mike Isaac for an interview). According to Business Insider, the rise and fame of Boo came as a complete surprise to Ahn, who wasn’t looking for anything in the limelight. Chronicle Books approached Ahn when Boo had under a million fans on his Facebook page. Even when invited to be on Good Morning America, Ahn didn’t join Boo in front of the cameras. Certainly, it would help Boo to have a Pet Parent that works at Facebook, but the appeal of his adorable photos are undeniable and the fact that Ahn was doing something quite unique in creating a non-human celebrity profile early on clinched his fame. The celebrity endorsements by Ke$ha and Kim Kardashian were also helpful in his rise. Boo 12M fans US Boo has more followers on Facebook than The New York Times.
  • Boo’s pet parent isn’t the only one who shies away from the limelight. Sockington the cat, whose friends call him ‘Socks’, appears to be the first cat profile on Twitter. In March of 2007, Jason Scott, Internet Historian from Waltham, Massachusetts, made history himself by creating a profile for his newly adopted stray, Sockington. Between 2007-2009, the sheer unconventionality of following a cat on Twitter, plus the quirky sense of humour in the tweets from that cat, grew a healthy audience of 10,000+ followers. But in 2009, Twitter added Sockington to its recommended feeds list, causing a surge in follows. Today, Sockington’s account has over 1.36 million followers. Scott has spun that success into an “Army of Socks” (dedicated followers of Sockington and his sister, Penny) and briefly sold merchandise (though the storefront seems to have disappeared). Unlike Boo, Sockington prefers to stay quirky and non-commercial. There are no book deals and Scott doesn’t do interviews any more. In a blog post entitled “Statement on Sockington Selling Out” (October 25, 2009), Scott promised his fans (or Sockington’s) that he wouldn’t be selling out and in 2012, he revisited this claim in a post entitled “What Selling Out Reads Like”, where he wrote that he toyed briefly with the idea of “selling out” (i.e. a paid tweet), but the experience was so awful (re-negotiating after he accepted and the demands to sign oodles of legal documents), he completely shut down to the idea. He wrote, “So no, Socks continues to not push house cleaning products on his twitter feed. He continues to be a very strange, very odd little cat.” Sockington Scott 1.36M followers Waltham, MA
  • Tabatha Bundesen, owner of Tardar Sauce, more famously known as Grumpy Cat, isn’t as averse to capitalizing on the internet fame of her cat as Socks’ Scott. In an interview on September 22, 2013, Bundesen, explained to fans at a book signing that Tardar’s fame has enabled her family to travel and spend more time together. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock and aren’t familiar with Grumpy Cat, Tardar Sauce first rose to fame on Reddit in September 2012 when Bundesen’s brother, Ryan, a Redditor, posted her photos to the /r/pics subreddit. The post was picked up and the image photoshopped with the now famous “NO” meme and reached the front page quickly. Within days, the meme spread worldwide and Bundesen created an official homepage quickly to capitalize on the virality. [ref] They’ve created a book, a drink (the coffee drink, The Grumppuccino), a calendar, t-shirts, pillowcases, wrapping paper and more. Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic carry Grumpy Cat merchandise and Entertainment Earth is launching a series of products. After coming across the beer cozy with Tardar’s image, I presume that the family is also licensing the image for use. There are also iPhone apps like Weather Kitty and GrumpyBomb (a photo editor where you can superimpose the Grumpy Cat meme on your own photo). Grumpy Cat is also the official “spokescat” for Friskies as of September 27, 2013. Tardar Sauce resides with the Bundesen family in Arizona. He is represented by infamous “meme manager” Ben Lashes, who is responsible for taking multiple rising meme characters and helping them monetize their new found fame. Grumpy Cat 219k followers Arizona
  • One of the keys to furry influencer success seems to be a unique marking or characteristic. Grumpy Cat has his downturned mouth, Boo has his funny haircut, but the cat that has taken the world by storm with his unique face is L’il Bub. L’il Bub, known for her perma-kitten appearance, tiny frame, big eyes and little protruding tongue, resides with her owner Mike Bridavsky, a musician and producer, in Bloomington, Indiana. According to an interview Bridavsky did with Vice in February, he puts around 60 to 100 hours per week into Bub’s various projects. Bub blew up on Reddit, much like Grumpy Cat, but it all started with a YouTube video and a Tumblr site created by Bridavsky in late 2011. Lil Bub 417k followers Bloomington, IN
  • From there, things progressed quickly. In May and June of 2012, Bridavsky created Facebook (700k likes), Instagram (417k followers) and Twitter (38,800 followers) accounts and a merchandise store on L’il Bub’s Tumblr page. At the end of June, Bub was picked up by Buzzfeed and went to the next level. Several other popular publications picked up the L’il Bub sensation, including Vice, who would also go on to create a documentary feature film that would launch at the Tribeca Film Festival about L’il Bub and his furry friends. Bridavsky and L’il Bub were also approached by “meme manager” Ben Lashes, but turned him down because, “What he had in mind didn’t fall in with what I wanted to do…” [ref] Once watching Grumpy Cat’s rise to fame, Bridavsky seemed to regret it, but has done well anyway. L’il Bub has a book, a deal with Urban Outfitters, has a deal with Revision 3 for a web series, has ongoing media appearances and raises money for various animal rescue associations. Not so bad for a little cat with a lot of medical issues. Grumpy Cat, L’il Bub and Tuna are only three of the animals propelled to stardom after they made the front page of Reddit by accident.
  • I could go on as there are multiple rising stars on the horizon and many more waiting in the wings. Here are just a few more: One rising star is Manny the Frenchie, the uber popular French Bulldog who lives with Amber Chavez and Jon Huang in Chicago. He has nearly a half a million followers on Instagram, is an official representative for BarkBox and just keynoted the annual BlogPaws Conference (for pet parents – note: there are TWO pet parent conferences) in Las Vegas. His website sells collars, apps and high end branded human goods. He uses his fame for good by supporting many rescue organizations, ASPCA and the American Cancer Society. Sir Charles Barkely 200k followers Seattle Tuna 800k followers LA Manny the Frenchie 400k followers Chicago
  • Manny and Sir Charles Barkley (215k followers on Instagram), who lives in Seattle, Washington with his pet parents Paul and Melissa Canda, often hang out as he is also a PetBox influencer.
  • The whole world shed a tear when Colonel Meow passed away from heart failure in November of 2013. He left behind his pet parents Anne Marie Avey and Eric Rosario, who adopted him in Seattle and moved him to Los Angeles. Reports of his passing made TMZ news. He had over 350k fans on Facebook (now almost 500k).
  • Although many of the pet influencers reside in the US, there are famous pets worldwide. And to give you a sense of the scale of where it’s going, the Telegraph recently reported that one in ten pet parents have created a profile of their pet on Facebook, Twitter or other social network. Many of these pets have more followers than humans. In another article reporting on the same data, the CEO of SocialBakers remarked: “As a global social media and digital analytics company we track online engagement levels across Facebook and Twitter and over the last year we have seen a significant rise in the interaction with pets on social media.” Many of the leading furry influencers can thank the wacky meme creators at Reddit for their careers.
  • Norm, the pug from Seattle, was the first to post a photo looking like he was taking a selfie (arm extended) on February 4, 2013. He started a trend on April 19, 2013 when he tagged another self-portrait #petselfiez. Since that date, there have been over 10,000 pets who have followed suit. There are also over 36,000 posts tagged #petselfie.
  • There is not one, but TWO annual conferences for pet parents wanting to grow the brand of their beloved dog or cat each year. The first is Blogpaws, which just happened in Vegas (and was keynoted by Manny the Frenchie). -- Next year, it’s in Nashville, TN May 28-30. The second one is Barkworld Expo. It takes place October 30-Nov 1 in Atlanta, GA. There will be Dog Yoga.
  • What Is Up With This Phenomenon? “The Internet has accelerated the expansion of this new kind of celebrity—the adorable and infantilized one that barely knows how to speak for itself, if it’s even able to. It’s harmless and borderline pornographic at the same time.” - Mike (owner of lil bub)
  • I am torn on this issue personally. A part of me thinks that it is frivolous to be anthropomorphizing pets who don’t really understand what is going on. It’s part of the reason I didn’t want to “use” my dog for social media fame. He’s just wants cuddles, treats and love. He could care less if he’s gone viral on Vine or has lots of followers on Twitter. But another part of me is quite intrigued. The more I dig, the more I discover how much sense it makes that these pets have grown such a following. We’ve loved our dogs for over 30,000 years and our cats for over 7,000. More and more studies come out that prove that our bonds with our pets are more than superficial. In reality, many of the Furry Influencers are using their powers for good. Manny, Tuna, L’il Bub and many others raise money for animals in need and the ASPCA. Many of these famous pets were rescued from animal shelters and their stories set a great example. It will be interesting to track if this leads to any growth in pet adoption over time. Through my research, I’ve discovered that at there are three main drivers to the rapid rise of Furry Influencer fandom: That there is a real physiological and psychological reaction to animals, This feeling even translates through a computer or mobile device screen. This reaction leads to a heightened emotional response, which is the number one driver for sharing on the web As traditional media and established brands have embraced these petfluencers, following them has become more and more accepted as normal behaviour. What you’ll see is that it was inevitable that pets would take over the web.
  • The Science Behind The Squeeeeee Believe it or not, there is a science of cuteness and it’s been studied at length. In a 2009 TED Talk, Dan Dennett, Cognitive Scientist, told the audience: “We are wired to like cute.” Much like our attraction to sugary foods stems from our drive to seek out high-energy calories to fuel our bodies, our attraction to baby-like features comes from our need to protect our young and grow our species. Animals share many of the adorable characteristics of babies: enlarged heads and eyes, small noses, soft, rounded features, and clumsy, mechanical limbs. They are vulnerable and rely on us for their care. As the New York Times reported in the article, The Cute Factor:
  • Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can’t lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire. Watching a kitten play with a ball of yarn actually triggers something in a region of our brains called the Nucleus Accumbens, otherwise known as the ‘pleasure center’. When this region lights up, our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. The resulting feeling is similar to getting high. And, much like drug addiction, when the sensation wears off, our brain cries for more. Over time, we’ve actually bred our pets to take on more adorable features (not always to their health benefits). Generation over generation, we’ve favored the larger heads, floppier ears, bigger eyes, softer features and shorter noses. In effect, we’ve designed them to be cuter in order to reward our pleasure centers more.
  • We may have chosen them over 30,000 years ago, but they also chose us. Last year, scientists found out that dogs have the same dopamine reaction as we do: “Studies have shown that when dogs are in physical contact with their owners, their brains release the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine in exactly the same way as human brains do when you feel happy and relaxed.” This “mutual high” has served us well and we’ve grown a strong bond with our animals. Although our pets aren’t our natural born children, many of the emotions and feelings are simulated. And, unlike our children, they don’t grow up and grow independent, so the addiction can be maintained. It’s the baseline for why we go so crazy over these little guys. In other words, it’s biological. We can’t help ourselves.
  • High - Arousal Emotions + Share Button = Viral Success Just the other day, my Mom sent me a text message, “I just sent you a video. You HAVE to see it.” I looked in my inbox and found that she sent a short video showing a cat being a superhero, saving a young boy from a dog attack. I had seen this same video posted by dozens of friends on Facebook, Twitter and other networks the same day. It was all over the news worldwide. In a mater of days after posting a video to his newly opened YouTube Channel, Roger Triantafilo of Bakersfield, California, got over 20 million views and licensed this 58 second video to news reporters worldwide. That heroic cat benefited from the high-arousal emotional burst that comes after the dopamine is released and the power of the share button on the web.
  • In his 2013 published book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger studies situations of high-arousal emotions and their connection to sharing. He and his team compared thousands of New York Times articles to figure out what makes one article more sharable than the next one and found that there was only one defining factor that universally increased our propensity to share: “(A)ctivating emotion is the key to transmission. Physiological arousal or activation drives people to talk and share. “ But it’s not just any emotion. Positive, high-arousal emotions were the ones that elicit the most action: Awe, Excitement, Humour, Adoration (the squeal factor), Inspiration. The heroic Californian cat brought adorable, excitement and awe to one short video. He not only triggered the cuteness dopamine automatically by just being a cat, his brave actions also heightened our emotional response. He risked his life for his human child. How could we help but NOT share? The web has gifted us with platforms to share this content far and wide and we choose to share it based on our own response and how we think it will make others feel. Our affinity and adoration for our pets and sharing things that arouse our emotions makes Furry Influencers and sharing a match made in heaven.
  • Pet Blogging Goes Legit There was a joke in the early days of blogging that went something like, “When you’ve run out of ideas to blog about, blog about your cat.” It was a sign of mediocrity and of writing for all the wrong reasons. As Kathy Sierra, an author and popular blogger wrote, In other words, to write about your pet was seen as non-essential writing. Boy, have times changed! Instead of avoiding pet blogging, pets are blogging and they’ve been given all sorts of legitimacy through mass public consumption as well as through traditional forms of media promotion and brand sponsorships. The relationship between influencers and traditional marketing channels (media endorsements, brand sponsorships, and the like) is entirely symbiotic. The brands need the influencers to spread their messages and the influencers need the (often financial) support of brands to continue to spread those messages. The media needs the interestingness of the influencer content and the influencers need the legitimacy of the media outlets. Influencer marketing isn’t anything new, but the rise in the niche markets of influence is made possible through the social web. Andy Warhol made the famous statement that “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,” but that has turned into “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen people.” of enthusiastic pet lovers. The media gets a steady stream of highly sharable content. And though I can’t be 100% certain, I’m guessing that the pets themselves get showered in treats and cuddles whenever they want.
  • Friskies understood that when they signed Grumpy Cat as a spokespet. Many other pet care companies (in an industry that is ballooning) will follow suit with the understanding that people who follow these Furry Influencers are most likely pet owners or pet lovers themselves. And, though the fans realize that there is a human behind the keyboard that is merely posing as their pet, they are still more likely to trust that human’s opinion of a product than the opinion of a company selling a product. Blogging the cat has gone from a past time to a viable career choice and everyone benefits on some level. The fans get a regular shot of dopamine that makes them feel good throughout the day. The pet parents get to spend more time with their adorable fur babies and make a tidy living doing so. The brands get access to an audience.
  • Where Is All This Going? If other Influencer niches are any indication, this is only the beginning for Furry Influencers. Though we’ve shared cute pet photos and videos since the advent of the internet, it’s only in the past 2-3 years that we’ve seen the ‘pet as a brand’ emerge to this extent. Mommy bloggers, who have massive influence in many markets, have been growing their brands since the early 2000’s. There are massive networks, multiple conferences, agents, and endless resources for Mommy Bloggers today. Nobody questions their individual or collective power to influence other moms (and even non-moms), though there was a time when people scratched their heads over the question, “Who on earth would want to follow a blog about poopy diapers?” Beauty bloggers and vloggers, too, have come into their own in the past few years. People rolled their eyes at these young wannabe makeup artists merely 5 years ago. Now they launch their own cosmetic lines and command 6-figure payments to show up at parties. New York Magazine proclaimed that the “Golden Era of ‘Fashion Blogging’ is Over”. They were so influential that the traditional media decided to become more bloggy and the fans are feeling saturated.
  • There are a few unique characteristics about the Furry Influencers that may help this phenomenon stand the test of time: 1. Dogs and cats will most likely remain unchanged from their new-found fame. Certainly, pet parents can try to pull a “do you know who I am?” but people aren’t there to see them. They are there for the pets and they will never disappoint. 2. The incredible growth in the pet care industry is unlikely to slow given that more and more people are getting pets and that those pets are seen as more a part of the family every day. 3. The Nucleus Accumbens is here to stay and so is our addiction to dopamine releases. I doubt we will ever become immune to the emotional hijacking of cute pet photos. That being said, one thing to note is that of the hundreds of pet social networks that have emerged over the years (one of the first being Dogster.com, which started out as a joke in 2004 and turned into a viable business, which was acquired in 2011), none have really taken off. It seems that people want to interact with and share their pets in human networks, but aren’t as excited about isolating themselves to only interact with other pet parents. It could also be that the charade of ‘talking with a dog’ (or ‘as a dog’) is taken too far when interacting on a pet social network. After all, most of us understand that dogs don’t type. It’s funny when we’re all in on the joke, but it becomes sad when we are the joke. We may not want to be the joke, but we certainly enjoy consuming it. I can almost guarantee that we haven’t seen the end of adorable quirky pet memes going viral on Reddit. I, for one, am going to watch the space and be part of the growth. And yes, I’m going to sit down with Ridley tonight to ask him how he feels about getting internet famous. I’m sure he’ll be okay with it. You Can’t Quit Me
  • Glossary Petworking – pets social networking Furry Babies – what we call the non-human children Pet Parent – what we call ourselves when we have non-human children Blog the Cat – running out of ideas to write about, so you write about mundane things…like your cat. Petfluencer – Pets who have lots of followers on social media who listen to their recommendations. Cute Aggression – the scientific term used for the knee-jerk desire to smoosh something adorable you see. #petselfiez – a photo of a pet where the setup makes it look as if the animal is holding a camera extended out in a human-like fashion to take a self-portrait. #petselfie – a self-portrait of yourself with your pet.
  • About “Exploring Digital Cultures” This report is just the first in the series about Exploring Digital Cultures that will explore all sorts of niches that have found a community online. The intention of these explorations is to give some insight into the community, the rituals, and the people (and non-people) who are driving the conversation. Understanding how digital culture works is the key to understanding your brand’s role in it. And when you join the flow of culture, your message will be organically amplified.
  • MSLGroup + Pet Community MSLGROUP is a world renowned strategic communications and engagement consultancy (part of Publicis Groupe worldwide). We are the 4th largest public relations network in the world and 6th largest in North America. We are a next generation agency that creates and celebrates data-driven big ideas and communications in the digital age. We are results and client-services driven. MSLGROUP has extensive experience in Pet Care and have worked on programs for Purina, Fancy Fest and Pedigree. Tara Hunt @missrogue Social Digital Leader at MSLGROUP + Pug Lover Author, Speaker, Mom & Pug Mom (@ridley + @lizziethepug) 50.9k followers tara.hunt@mslgroup.com MSLGroup 7k followers Tara has over 15 years of social media and digital marketing experience. She wrote one of the first books on how social media is changing the relationship of businesses with their customers, has spoken all over the world on the topic and is considered a pioneer of social media marketing. She is also involved in pet rescue and both of her pugs – Ridley and Lizzie – are rescues. Ridley, who was adopted in 2008, was also one of the first dogs on Twitter and has over 3,700 followers. He is also a viral sensation on Vine, where his “Pug in da club” video has been re-vined 250,000 times. Tara comes honestly to her love of animals. She comes by her love of animals honestly as her father is a veterinarian (retired from a small + large animal practice in Sundre, Alberta) and is a past-president of the CVMA.