And as much as I adore the photos, videos and sweet stories of those Internet stars, I can’t ignore the niggling thought that my dogs are just as cute.
That got me thinking: How did these famous pets get to where they are?
1. Be Unique
All of our pets are unique — that’s what makes them easy to love and so precious in our eyes. But how do we make them precious in other people’s eyes? That’s not so easy.
Babe, my older pit bull rescue, is a photo pro. When that camera comes out, she freezes and looks adorable.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Babe is just a very sedentary dog. She excels at sleeping, napping and resting. And when it’s time to get her picture taken, she keeps doing what she does best — holding still.
Lazy or not, Babe has potential. That is, until I catch up on some of my favorite online superstars (many of whom are also pit bull rescues).
Flipping through those stars, I see their unique characteristics that have put them in the limelight:
- A dog who balances objects on his head
- A cat with a permanent frown
- 2 dogs who smile and cuddle each other
- A dog who sneers goofily when she thinks she’s in trouble
Thinking of what Babe’s Facebook page might be (“The Pig Dog Holds Still for Another Picture”), I realize that maybe Babe’s ability to be lazy might not be enough to gain her Internet stardom.
2. Promote a Cause
Is there an ultimate goal for making your pet Internet-famous besides bragging rights?
Many celebri-pets promote a message and rely on their popularity to get that message out. For example, Darren and Phillip, 2 Staffordshire bull terriers in Australia, have more than 140,000 followers on Instagram, where fans get regular installments of unbearably adorable photos of the “blue boys” snuggling and wearing pajamas. (Talk about the “aw” factor!)
Looking super snuggly isn’t their only purpose for dominating the photo-sharing site, though. They are working to change the image of pit bull–type dogs and ban breed-specific legislation (BSL).
Darren and Phillip’s mom says, “I really do hope that our photos can change the minds of these people or at least make them think twice before blaming the breed for irresponsible human behavior.”
Her dogs aren’t alone on that front. Also striving to change the negative stereotype surrounding pit bulls are:
- Scout, the dignified dog who balances objects on his head
- Sookie and Ivy, rescue pit bull mixes who have a Facebook page with more than 7,000 likes, which they use to raise “PAWsitive pit bull awareness”
- The ever popular Grumpy Cat, who supports animal shelters and promotes adoption
Some Internet pet celebs are mostly just providing entertainment for their fans without a clearly promoted message, like Doug the Pug, whose Twitter account boasts more than 45,000 followers, and Denver the Guilty Dog, whose YouTube videos have been viewed almost 33 million times.
3. Stay Busy and Think Big
How likely is it for your or my pets to have the sort of success that these well-known pet stars have had? Probably pretty unlikely. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to bring our furry family members some well-deserved fame.
Spend a little time scrolling through your favorite pet stars’ social media sites and start taking notes. You’ll probably find that they:
- Post regularly and frequently, often multiple times per day
- Have been building a fan base for years
- Post high-quality photos and videos
- Engage their audiences by asking opinions and questions
Most of these whiskered celebrities share their posts on multiple social media platforms, and some even have their own websites and blogs.
Grumpy Cat’s distinctively expressive face made her an Internet sensation in a matter of days:
Since we don’t all have the luxury of infinite spare time on our hands, it might not be feasible to tackle every online platform simultaneously. If you don’t have time to keep an updated blog, maybe you have time to snap a couple of photos a day and share them on Instagram.
With some well-placed tags, you could have a few hundred followers in just a few months. I’ll keep an eye out on #petsofinstagram for your critter’s debut.