Instagram is experimenting with hiding the number of likes you get on your photos, but how will that affect social media influencers that have turned likes into dollars? It can be big business.
Look at Brandy and Moose. They have more than 78,000 followers and get thousands of likes on each and every photo. They work with big name sponsors and they even have an agent. Orange native Stacey Walsh is the dog mom behind the account and she said the number of likes you get determines how much those brands pay you.
“Influencers work with brands for partnerships and are often paid based on their account engagement,” Walsh said, “including amount of likes and comments your average post gets, along with your follower count. I think a lot of people who do this for a living will not be happy with the change.”
Brandy is a mixed-breed rescue pup that Walsh and her husband adopted at 12 weeks old. When they felt it was time for Brandy to have a friend, that’s where Moose, a Bernese mountain dog, came along.
“The two of them together are the greatest of friends,” said Walsh. “They couldn’t be more different and I think that’s why they get along so well.”
But how did Brandy and Moose become Instagram influencers? A few years ago, her family urged her to start an instagram simply because they wanted pictures of the dogs. The pictures were blurry shots from her Blackberry.
“When I hit about 10,000 followers or so I started to realize, ok, wow, maybe this is something!” When they hit 50,000 followers, they signed with The Dog Agency out of New York City. She says the agency takes care of brand collaborations; a majority of the companies she works with aren’t pet products, like Bertucci’s, who threw them a pizza party, and Chevrolet.
Even with an agent helping out with sponsored content, running the account is the work of a full time job. “I do work full time, 40 hours a week, but I probably work 40 hours on the dog account outside of my actual job, doing research, seeing what marketing strategies work, reaching out to companies, and I spend a lot of time on the weekends taking photos so that I have them in stock to post during the week.”
Since her account is registered as a business account on Instagram, she’s able to see the analytics behind which posts are performing well.
“I really try to just listen to the followers,” said Walsh. “You can tell what photos get more likes than the others and I try to post what people want to see.” In Brandy and Moose’s case, Walsh says followers prefer their candid pictures or action shots over more staged photos.
Pets can be tricky to photograph. Walsh says the trick is lots of treats and a little bit of luck. “To be honest, for every good photo that I take there are about 75 bad photos that I take,” said Walsh, “so I just keep snapping until I get something that I like.” She takes a lot of photos with her iPhone and some with a camera, but no matter what, she says she never puts the dogs in a position where they would be uncomfortable.
Stacey’s number one secret to her social media success: engagement. That includes following accounts similar to hers, and liking and commenting on their photos.
Walsh, who has a degree in marketing from Sacred Heart University, works in finance now. “Doing the Instagram marketing for the dogs satisfies the love I have for marketing,” she said.
What’s next in the adventures of Brandy and Moose? “I started the account to have fun and at this point I just want to see where it takes me.”