January 12, 2017 04:49 AM

You have an adorable dog, you love looking at adorable dogs on the Internet — there’s no reason these two things can’t go together.

A new study released by Barkbox surveyed more than 1,000 American dog parents and found, on average, dog owners post about their canines on social media about six times per week, with 11 percent of them also giving their pooches their own accounts. Plus, pup parents watch dog videos or look at dog photos about three times a week.

There is certainly a demand for precious pups online, and your dog can be one of them. Valiant Lowitz, the Concept Creative at BarkBox, is here to help you help make your pet’s following far bigger than your own. Based on his work at BarkBox and from what he knows from being a proud dad to Panda the dog, Lowitz has some simple steps for any pet owner to follow to get their dog’s follower count through the ruff, er, roof.

1. Get involved with the Instadog community

One of the most important steps to growing your dog’s Instagram presence is by being engaged in the quickly growing community of Instagram dogs. Sniff out pups in your local community by searching hashtags relevant to your dog’s breed or activities (for example, #CattleDogsOfNYC will help you find local cattle dog owners in the N.Y.C. area), or find new friends in the larger social community by searching #BarkPack, #BarkBox and other relevant tags.

Be sure to comment, like and engage with other dog accounts on Instagram to build your pup’s profile as an influencer online, and make some new friends at the same time. 

2. ‘Just Be Yourself’

One of the hardest parts of starting an Instagram account for your dog is producing a constant stream of creative, eye-catching content. Ultimately this comes down to a simple three-letter acronym: JBY — just be yourself! Every pup is different and unique – that’s why we love them so much! What works for some accounts may not work for yours. 

Followers respond well to photos and videos that are authentic. If you think you’re trying too hard to be famous, you probably are. Let the followers come to you because they love your pup, and they’ll stick around fur-ever.  

3. Be active with your followers

The importance of engaging your own community by running contests, hashtag campaigns and commenting back to fans cannot be understated. The most important thing to focus on when growing any Instagram account is the reach, or the number of unique accounts who come visit your dog’s account. 

More diversity in your audience equals a larger pool of potential followers. Contests and giveaways give your followers a reason to tag more friends and drive new traffic to your pup’s page. 

Even better is partnering with one or more fellow Instadogs and running a collaborative campaign — don’t be afraid to cross-pollinate followers. 

4. Find a platform that works for your dog and stick to it

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are all opportunities to engage with different people, as well as have some fun with different content formats to keep things fresh. 

However, try and keep your focus to one or two channels at most. Spreading yourself too thin leads to a decrease in quality across the board, with both engagement and content. 

5. Build your dog’s brand offline

Keeping reach in mind, be sure to constantly reach out to different publications and event opportunities to build your dog’s offline presence. Internet fans are important, but to truly become an Insta-famous dog you need to be able to drive foot traffic and excitement offline as well. 

6. Have fun, be safe

We all love our dogs, and it’s that love that truly resonates with followers and new fans. Keep things fun, be safe with your dog and be creative. Your dog is a dog, not an asset, so be a dog parent, not a dog agent.

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