How to make your dog Instagram famous

By @_rupertthecockapoo

Some know us as ‘Rupert the cockapoo’ from Instagram, but our nearest and dearest call us Roo and Naomi (oh and Tom). We are just your average little family from South Yorkshire who enjoy the little things in life, and sharing Rupert’s daily antics on Instagram. We often get asked how Rupert's dog Instagram account came to be, and how we became a Scrumbles ambassador. So today we're sharing our story and top secrets. Including how Rupert came into our lives, how his Instagram journey started, and our tips for any budding pupfluencers out there. 

How Rupert came into our lives

I (Naomi) work full-time in Marketing for Education. Recruiting students to courses, degrees and apprenticeships with the main goal of better career outcomes and opportunities for all. My job means a lot to me and sadly (much to Rupert’s dismay) does take up much of my week. Although Rupert’s Instagram account sometimes could be a full-time job in itself!

Since Tom started in the emergency services and embarked on shift work (meaning he was home through the day most days), we realised our working lives would allow us to (finally, after over 6 years of nagging!) get the cockapoo of my dreams. Our friends sent us photos of a litter of cockapoos in early 2020 that were privately listed, and it's safe to say we couldn’t resist a little visit. The rest, as they say, is history. We were never going home without a third family member on reserve!

The cockapoo of our dreams

Rupert is (in technical terms) an F1B cockapoo which means he has been back bred to a purebred parent – in Rupert’s case he is a cross between a miniature cockapoo and a working cocker spaniel making him technically 75% spaniel. His teddy bear appearance, fun-loving character, unstoppable wiggly butt and drive to learn new things is what makes him so special and what a time we found ourselves in when we had to eventually bring him home in the height of the pandemic…

And a dog instagram account was born

Of course, it was announced on 23rd March 2020 that England would go into its first lockdown to protect the country and the NHS. We were due to pick Rupert up on 17th April 2020 and the anxiety, nerves and worry of how we were ever going to socialise our puppy and get him used to the ‘normal’ life kicking in. Not to mention the natural nerves you get regardless of the pandemic when picking up a puppy! I had numerous sleepless nights about whether we were making the right decision and my answer to every worry was; ‘Someone has to give him a home and work through the very strange time we are now living in… why not us?’.

The most upsetting part of Rupert's arrival in April 2020 was the fact we had this most gorgeous bundle of fluff that I had waited years for, yet we weren’t able to take him anywhere. Not even to see family, friends or loved ones. Instead we were confined to four walls, lots of Facetimes and x1 outdoor walk a day (with little or no people or cars on the road which we’re now back acclimatised to).
Cue… a solution to this problem.

Instagram.

I had a personal account that I didn’t keep up to date very much. Due to my job I knew the ins and outs of social media but a DOG INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT? I bit the bullet amidst the jibes, ‘are you mad’ and ‘you’ve totally lost it’ comments. Mainly because I needed a way to show Rupert to my family, to Tom’s family and to our friends. As well as to somehow share our happiness in finding our third little family member.

Rupert’s account was born a few weeks before we brought him home so I could show his progress at the breeders to our families. Saving the hassle of sending the photos to each of them individually. A year and 4 months on… who would have thought my little cockapoo had taken social media by storm and is one of the biggest UK cockapoo accounts out there (mind blown!). Here's a throw back to our first ever post:

 

What it's like being a ‘Pupfluencer’

Anyone in the ‘dog instagram’ world will have come across the term ‘pupfluencer’. According to Google meaning, ‘a pet influencer is an Instagram famous dog who has a large following and an influence in the pet industry, predominantly online’. But that doesn't give much clue as to what it's really like being ‘classed’ as one?

Any of our followers will know we post, do daily updates, and engage in the dog community almost daily. Why? Because we enjoy it. At no point when setting up Rupert’s account was the sole intention to ever reach anyone past our close circle of family or friends, but here we are…

Being classed as a ‘pupfluencer’ does make me laugh a little bit inside. Only because to me, we are THE MOST normal people and pup you’ll ever come across. You wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you walked past the three of us in the street. Yet something Rupert, Tom and I have done in the last 16 months has resonated with so many people online and I feel extremely humbled by that. The instagram dog community is a wonderful place to be and we've spoken to so many amazing dog parents who've been extremely supportive and made being online a nice place to be.

It's no walk in the park

Pardon the pub, but being a dog influencer is a full-time job. Having the amount of followers Rupert does comes with a huge level of responsibility and almost like a job we never applied for. Although we love it all the same. Working full-time I do have to dedicate my evenings, lunch breaks and weekends to ensure I’m posting the content I want to, swell as the content our followers want to see. This includes responding to everyone’s messages daily, planning in photos and editing, making sure we and the brand are happy with the quality, researching hashtags and reels we can use for exposure, engaging with all the accounts that take the time to engage with us (THANK YOU!) and above all… having fun along the way.

If there was ever a day where we felt like running Rupert’s account was a chore – we would simply stop – only do what brings you joy 😊

How to make your Dog Instagram famous

We get asked all the time ‘How do you get so many followers?’ – the simple answer is – I don’t know. I can only tell you what worked for us (or what I presume did and that we are SO grateful for every single day).

1. Timing

For us it was the timing of when our dog instagram account started that we think has had the biggest impact. We had just entered a global pandemic, the first lockdown and our lives had come to a standstill. The only place people we were able to ‘go’ was online and that seemed to be most people’s escape from being locked indoors. I think seeing cute pics of Rupert as a little teddy bear puppy and following his early years to adulthood became an escape for many, and I’m very grateful to those who are still with us today.

Timing aside (as I’d hope another time like we had is not going to happen again in our lifetime!), our other tips for a successful account would be:

2. Use high quality, sharp and focussed images

Using images that are clean and sharp make the world of difference. It makes your account look professional and brands usually want to work with accounts who have high quality images. Mainly so they can use for their own marketing collateral. Also always have some dog treats or some food like Scrumbles chicken and rice dog food to hand for securing that perfect pose, !

3. Keep your grid aesthetic clean

What we mean by this is, when someone lands on your account – what do they see? A sea of disorientated backgrounds and different colours (not of the same tone), or does it look uniformed, structured and consistent? Be mindful of your editing techniques – we strongly recommend using a preset and sticking to it.

4. Be engaging and engage with others

When you post – why are you posting and how do you think that post relates to your audience? We always post the photos we like best of Rupert or that represent a milestone/something we want to look back. Make sure your caption is relatable to your followers. Ask them a question, do some polls on your stories or simply be funny (punny in our case!). One of the most enjoyable things for us is engaging in other accounts. We LOVE to see other accounts photos and pups as much as we love posting, and I feel that has a huge impact.

5. Be original

No one ever got anywhere copying someone else… We saw a huge competitive nature coming into play at one point in the dog instagram world and I am a big advocate of supporting each other. Which is why I set up ‘Suppawtive Sunday’. So try coming up with your own trend to original idea, and help build a community you can be truly proud of. I’m sure people will be there for it!

6. Be authentic

One thing I prize our account on would be the honesty of everything we share. You have to be relatable for people to want to stick around. No one wants to be made to feel rubbish by seeing a picture perfect dog that can do no wrong. I'm not too sure those dogs even exist! So we share the lows as well as the highs.

7. Do it for you

My last piece of advice would always be – do not post for anyone but yourself. Those little squares will be more valuable to you in years to come than you can ever imagine. Don’t get caught up on the number of followers or likes etc. I can guarantee the day you start having fun with your account, injecting love into every post, and being 100% genuine about your life is the day followers will naturally come. And more importantly, they’ll stick around.

And if all else fails – be grateful for your life offline – it’s one thing I practice everyday.
An attitude of gratitude will serve you well in any walk(ies) of life.

Naomi & Roo x

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