How to develop your pet influencer marketing strategy

We all love scrolling through Instagram to be greeted by lots of cute, fluffy faces; but, beyond that, the rise in pet influencers has offered brands a useful marketing tool. Not only can these digital doggies help boost brand awareness, but they can become powerful advocates for your brand.

As a top PR agency, with a wide portfolio of pet industry clients, we’re offering our top tips on how to develop your pet influencer marketing strategy.

Identify your target audience

The goal of influencer marketing is to recruit people — or in this case, pets — that will resonate with your target audience and communicate your brand message effectively. Therefore, the first step to creating a successful influencer marketing campaign is to identify what type of pets best fit your brand. Pet parents, in particular, want to engage with brands that match their pet’s lifestyle, so choosing an influencer that’s reflective of your brand is especially important.

For example, if you’re marketing a pet food that’s formulated for active dogs, then recruiting a small, pampered pooch that lives in the centre of London probably isn’t the best use of influencer marketing. Instead, you’ll want to target influencers who live in a rural area and post about canine sports.

Do a hygiene check

@aslanalmighty on Instagram

Now you’ve identified the type of influencers you want, it’s time to actually find them — but this can a lengthier process than you might predict. Picture this: you’ve found the perfect influencer for your brand, but a deeper dive into their Instagram feed reveals they actually live in New Zealand and have an existing partnership with one of your competitors. They weren’t the perfect influencer, after all!

That’s why it’s so important to carry out a thorough ‘hygiene’ check before you outreach to the influencer. There are some basic things to look out for, including:

  • Does the influencer live in the right country?
  • Do they have an existing brand partnership that conflicts with yours?
  • Do their values match yours? For example, if you’re a family-friendly brand, then you don’t want an influencer who swears in their captions.
  • Are they the right age to use your product? For example, if you’re marketing kitten food, check they’re not an adult cat.
  • Do they post high-quality content?
  • Does the pet look well-cared for?

It’s these small yet important considerations that will help you decide whether a pet influencer is the right fit for your brand.

Additionally, you might want to assess the size of their following and the level of engagement, to see what kind of influencer is right for you. For example, some influencers have large followings to help your brand reach more potential customers, while others might have smaller but particularly well-engaged followings.

Establish a level of reciprocity

@heidi.kat on Instagram

You’ve found an influencer that ticks all the boxes — well done! Now, you’ll need to think about what exactly you need from them. Every pet influencer collaboration will be reciprocal, but there are different levels of reciprocity that you’ll need to consider. Here are a few examples:

  • Gifting — this is the simplest form of collaboration. It involves gifting an influencer a product to try; and, if they like it, encouraging them to post about. This tactic is great for achieving quick results with minimal investment; you don’t have to fork out a huge budget, nor do you have to spend much time managing the collaboration. The only catch is that influencers aren’t obligated to promote your brand, since there is no legally binding agreement.
  • Sponsored content — this involves briefing an influencer to deliver brand content, with the payment usually being in the form of a product and budget. This type of collaboration would involve a contract with agreed outputs from the influencer, allowing you to have a greater level of editorial control and the opportunity to communicate key product/brand messages how you’d like. The only downside with this is that the influencer content has the potential to appear inauthentic.
  • Brand ambassadors — this is more of a long-term partnership in which the influencer offers ongoing promotion of the brand in return for payment. With this collaboration, the influencer is functioning as the ‘face’ of your brand and can become a true advocate. It would require more time and budget from the brand, though.

The possibilities are endless with pet influencer marketing, but the key is thinking carefully about what type of collaboration will best fit into your overall marketing goals. Gifting product is a good idea if you want to extend brand reach beyond your own audiences; briefing sponsored content is great for maximising campaigns; and brand ambassadors are brilliant for boosting brand image.

Be sure to always follow the ASA guidelines when carrying out any influencer marketing.

Build a relationship with them

Now your strategy is set, it’s time to outreach. The key to building a positive relationship with an influencer is to not go in cold — start by liking their content or interacting with their stories. This means when you do go to outreach to them, they’ll recognise your brand name, and are more likely to want to collaborate. Plus, it’s a more genuine introduction to the brand.

When it’s time to outreach, make sure that your message is personalised. For example, compliment their photos or spark up a conversation about a recent post they did. This shows the influencer you genuinely appreciate their content.

And even after you’ve secured your influencer, whatever level of reciprocity you’ve established, it’s always good to keep building that relationship and encourage them to become true advocates of your brand.

Need some more help ‘paw’-fecting your pet influencer marketing strategy? Get in touch with us today.

Feature Image –  @willowspiggies on Instagram

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