In today’s episode of the In-Ear Insights podcast, we look at the power of pets – namely, dog and cat petfluencers. We dig into:

  • What is an influencer?
  • Why dogs make better influencers than cats when it comes to costumes.
  • How to think about pet influencers, including analytics to assess.
  • Tactical takeaways, such as where to use your own petfluencers in marketing copy.

Take a walk through our petfluencer data in the public Tableau workbook below:

Can’t see it? Want a bigger version? Click here to view the workbook on Tableau public.

Enjoy today’s episode!

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
Welcome to another episode of in your insights today’s episodes the first in our deep dive series in which we’re interesting insights employees namely us talk about a data issue of some kind and kind of what we learned for it so today’s topic is dogs and cats cats and dogs living together

Unknown
the cats living together

Unknown
it’s your pockets the famous Ghostbusters

Christopher Penn
how do we get to this I mean we we always have these random like like ideas but yeah compositions but they eventually turned into something

Katie Robbert
How did we get here well you know we’re always looking at influencers around different conferences we’re looking at you know who has the most reach who has the most voice and you know I know a couple years back you went and sat on a panel and one of your panel members was actually a dog who had more technically more followers than and so we started sort of talking through you know well what does the pet fluid sir space look like? And you know, we know that it’s more than just dogs and cats but for simplicity to start the analysis we started with dogs and cats knowing that those are more common and then of course you have your niche animals have like the you know pigs and raccoons and foxes and so on so forth and so that was sort of how I mean it just like anything else it always starts with curiosity What does that look like what what did they do what kind of reached it they have and so really trying to understand what the pet pet Fluence or I’m going to start over there but the influencer space looks like and what kind of an impact they’re having on brands in terms of where in the funnel they fit yeah and

Unknown
that whole influencer marketing thing I mean

Christopher Penn
the it’s like the most popular search term right now and then we looked at the prediction earlier this year and 2019 79%

more marketers searching for influencer marketing so at this point I think people are looking for anything they can get

Katie Robbert
yeah well and they’ve become such a commodity and you know they’re not coming cheap anymore in terms of you know, influencers being willing to work for your brand but at the same time so a great example is you know, I walk my dogs with my neighbor she has a 13 year old son and her son and all of his friends are saying well I don’t want to go to college I just want to make YouTube videos and get paid for it. So there’s definitely this movement towards people thinking that it’s an easy job and so you’re seeing influencers of all kinds just trying to break into the market not realizing how much hard work it is to be a good influencer or high paid influencer? Yeah,

Christopher Penn
cuz it’s basically your I mean, it’s, it’s everything old is new again, cuz you just a celebrity or you’re just a publicist and everything

Katie Robbert
right. Well, and I know that there was a conversation that, you know, pet flu answers, you know, while the term itself may have been recently coined, it’s not a new idea. You know, having animals as representatives are ambassadors for your brand has been around for a very long time, you know,

you have the Joe camel and the spuds Mackenzie 80s, and, you know, even farther back, you know, so it’s not a new concept. So, to your point, everything old is new again, the 80s are back Frankie’s in your neon, and you’re often washed jeans.

Christopher Penn
Oh, man, plastic pants, and big here. Here we come.

Unknown
All right, thank God, this is radio

Unknown
because I had those things.

Christopher Penn
When you think about what we try to advise other executives, we try to tell them and get data you don’t rely on one of the most interesting things I think that we’re seeing is that the networks, particularly social networks are actually cracking down and the amount of data we get, what do you tell your fellow CEOs and stuff for getting data other than, you know, I are good data science firm.

Katie Robbert
Um, other than hire a good data science firm. I mean, that’s tough. So I guess it all starts with, you know, what’s your goal? What are you trying to? What’s the question you’re trying to answer by mining this data? Why do you need an influencer or pet fluid? Sir, for your brand? Well, you know, what are you trying to accomplish. And so it really all starts with, you know, what the need is, and then you can start to figure out, Okay, I’m my brand makes sense on Instagram versus my brand makes sense on Facebook, you know, if you’re a consumer brand, that you’d probably be very visual. And there’s certain social platforms that lend themselves better. So sort of starting with one thing and focusing on that. But to your point about the crackdown on data, I mean, I only see that happening more and more. So, you know, needing to engage with a data science firm who can, you know, spend the time to figure out how to get that data is really the advice because it’s becoming less and less

you useful and less and less easy for someone who isn’t a data scientist to figure out how to get that data. Yeah, and

Christopher Penn
the big tech companies and if you don’t have connections into those companies, it is very difficult, particularly on Instagram. I was just thinking, actually, the first pet influencers, if I had to peg a name wouldn’t really have been like Mr. Ed and Lassie, and they had like black and white TV shows named after them.

Unknown
Mm

Unknown
hmm.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, it’s no different than a dog having its own YouTube channel today. It’s true,

Katie Robbert
it’s absolutely true. I mean, and I think it’s just, you know, with everything else it’s a matter of, of how marketing evolves. So, you know, marketing started is word of mouth and then it went to print and paper and pencil and you know, now it’s digital, you know, there’s still a lot of, you know, hard copies of things but a lot of it happens in the digital digital space there’s some brands who focus solely on social media in order to make their sales yeah so I

Christopher Penn
think we originally started with which is more popular dogs or cats so if you’re listening to this and like to see the analysis will put a link up on the brain trust insights blog but will there’s a chart we have many charts but this one is we had a top level data looking at we pulled 75 dog influencers and 75 cat influencers based initially on audience size to see what was in there. And are you surprised by any of the revelations that, you know, for example, dogs, on average have a larger audience, but cats on average, have slightly more views of their posts?

Unknown
No, I’m really not. And this is completely anecdotal and not data driven. But, um, dogs are better than cats.

Katie Robbert
No, but honestly, I think from what I’ve seen, what I’ve observed on social media, in terms of dogs vs. cats, dogs lend themselves a little bit more towards that dressing up that humanizing so you can do more things in terms of their personality, you can teach them those commands where they sit and stay. And so if you have a dog ambassador for your hotel chain, who greets people, or if you have a dog who you know, sits in the tap room of your brewery, you know, it’s easier, it’s an easier thing to control. So dogs themselves lend their behavior lens themselves better to being a pet influencer versus a cat that are more difficult to train. But if you can get a cat to do something, people are like, Oh, what? What? What is that? How did how did that work?

Christopher Penn
Yes, sure. Because if I tried to dress my cat, my cat would kill me.

Katie Robbert
But you know, people it’s, but it’s easier to dress up your dog in a hat or an outfit. And they can be trained to just sit and stay while you’re taking your hundreds of pictures. Yeah, you know, there’s services that will wrangle your pets your dog, specifically for special occasions, because people want them included. But I’ve yet to really see people do that for cats. Because, again, cats are just more difficult to manage. It’s not to say that they’re not trainable. But by nature, they’re more stubborn. And they’re more difficult to get a handle on. So

Christopher Penn
with the switch to tab to which is the pet fluids or Cat Dog data by a cat, you sort by, one of the things that I think is is so challenging for a lot of companies is they’re not sure what metrics to pay attention to. And when you look at the data, yeah, reaches nice and views and, but it’s those engagements that tell you that a human actually did something. And granted, you can bought that as well. But when you look at the combine numbers, you’re putting together the reach and the actions people took, it’s really interesting, you see multiples of, you know, hundreds of percentage points in engagement through the top one, Hamilton, the hipster cat as an average engagement if 3,500%

meaning that for every one.

One thing that this cat does, it gets 35 times the amount of engagement compared to say, you know, a Kardashian even getting less than 1%, they have hundreds of millions of fans, but very few of those fans actually do anything. What do what do we do with this information? What do we do? How do how does someone who’s evaluating an influencer, take this and turn it into meaningful action?

Katie Robbert
Well, you know, I always go back to a keen note that I saw a few years ago with Avinash Kaushik where he was talking about, you know, this very thing not influencers necessarily, but about these different metrics. And, you know, the example that he gave was, you know, it’s great if you have a million followers but if only your mom is liking your post, then you’re doing it wrong. So it’s really about that engagement, it’s about the likes and the shares and you know, the link clicks and all of those things and so the number of followers is a nice metric but it’s not the most important metric when you are gauging whether or not an influencer is right for you.

Christopher Penn
When you talk to an executive particularly with the CFO, they want to know what they’re getting for their money, what are they getting for their money,

Katie Robbert
they’re getting brand awareness they’re getting access to that particular influencer, our pet pet flu answers network you know so if they’re doing a sponsored post on your behalf then everybody within that network of you know a million people is seeing your particular thing your goods and so it increases the awareness therefore you can start to potentially drive them further down the funnel with the hope of conversion so influencers who have high engagement are the ones that you really want to think about in terms of your return on investment because as the market is getting more saturated it’s getting more and more expensive to engage with these influencers because they have their pick of sorry they have their pick of the litter

Unknown
you know for who they want to work with in terms of brands

Unknown
that’s terrible

Unknown
you know i i had to go there

Unknown
I mean yeah yeah you kind of have to

Christopher Penn
is so for those people whose kids are considering you know, skipping college and just making YouTube videos and what do you tell it because when you look at some of these numbers and then you look at the fees that some command and you know we’re yes there are lots and lots but it’s not not like

an NBA basketball team where there’s you know one or two stars and everybody else’s is playing second fiddle even though they’re all very good athletes you are talking you know we’ve we’ve pulled out just cursor really over 100 influencers and all these folks can manage insane fees is that 13 year old kid right? You know, the,

Katie Robbert
the very loose counsel that I’ve given my neighbor to tell her son and all of his little friends is it’s it’s a hustle it’s a constant puzzle like if you look at the amount of things that these influencers are posting its numerous times a day. And because social media is such a visual rich platform

vehicle for getting that imagery across, you can’t just snap a picture and put it up and hope that it works. Like there’s a lot of work and thought and strategy that goes into posting just one post. So imagine having to do it multiple times a day, you know, that in and of itself is a full time job. And I think that that’s the piece that people misunderstand about, you know, how really good influencers operate is it’s always on it’s 24 seven, you’re constantly thinking about it, you’re constantly doing it. You’re constantly posting you’re constantly working to get more people to follow to engage and a really good influencer would take a look at their own data and say, okay, so I posted 10 times nobody liked my stuff, I need to continue to pivot. What are other people doing that’s getting that engagement. And so it’s not enough to just post stuff and hope for the best. You also have to do the deep dive in and do the analysis and continue to change your strategy and social media things happen so fast. It’s, you know, the old billboard of you know, example where, how many people drive past a billboard a day? Well, that’s considered reach will do people remember what that billboard said? Probably not. So this is same thing with your social media feed. There’s so much information and the algorithms are constantly changing, how do you stand out? And that’s a really hard thing to do. And it’s not a tangible answer.

Christopher Penn
It’s funny, there was an episode of Gary van der Chuck show that is on YouTube will find the link and put it in the Notes for this episode. But him talking about how he manages his team

Unknown
for his his personal brand.

Unknown
What people

Christopher Penn
he has a team of 17 people, including three people whose sole job it is to follow him around all day, and just record every single thing he does. They film eight to 12 hours of footage a day. And then there’s a content team scheduling team editing team and stuff. And it’s amazing the the scale of it, and also the cost of it when you think about how many salaries that is just to just to support the CEO of the company. But

the production means that he can, he can essentially drown out anybody else in the space.

Katie Robbert
Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. So that’s a really great example of, you know, it’s not enough to just sit in your basement and make YouTube videos, like there’s a whole process and team of people and resources that go into being that successful. Yeah,

Christopher Penn
now, so the question is, how does a company like ours get there? Because, you know, we are two people in all three and three and a half, really, but

how do we do that, and not while still doing things that people actually want to pay for?

Katie Robbert
So you’re asking, how do we how do we get how do we, you know, scale at that same rate? Exactly. I

Christopher Penn
mean, in terms of a strategy. And, you know,

obviously, you have to continue to provide value no matter what,

and you can provide value at any pace, the board you provide the better, but it’s it’s interesting thing about how do you At what point do you balance it, this is something I she has a great question for you, as the CEO of the company, with an unruly employee with a large personal brand,

Katie Robbert
how do you balance the need of the company versus the, the branding of yourself of your employees, especially when it’s your employees personal brand that is fueling the company’s growth? Um, you know, and that’s a great question. And it’s something that I actually have given a lot of thought to. And, you know, I think, well, first and foremost, you know, full transparency, you and I have a, you and I have a really great dynamic where we can be honest and transparent with each other. And I think that it’s because of that relationship and trust that we have that if I’m giving you counsel to say, you should and should not do this with your personal brand on behalf of the company, you know,

you’re going to listen to that you I still do the thing anyway. But at least you know, let’s be honest, you’ve at least listened to the council that I’m giving. But I think that that’s exactly it. Like if you’re if if an executive finds himself in that situation where somebody else in the company is the face of their brand, then it’s a matter of making sure that, you know, you get that person on board with the messaging, the values, the way that you want to be positioned, and then just sort of like lightly monitoring, you know, sort of what’s happening to make sure that it doesn’t go off brand and if it does, nipping it in the bud immediately versus saying, Well, you know, they’re the face and I can’t afford to lose them, you have to have that conversation pretty quickly. And, you know, just sort of, you know, not a combative but just understand like, Well, why did you post that thing? Is there a way that you can continue to post that but maybe tweak it to meet our brand standards a little bit better? You know,

Unknown
and I think, you know, you don’t want to

Katie Robbert
you don’t want to stop an influencer from being an influencer. They are in the public eye for a reason people follow them for a reason. So it’s working with them versus trying to change them. Yeah.

Christopher Penn
And we’ve we’ve seen, you know, I’ve seen contemporary cases where other key executives are having conflicts with we don’t see us a personal brands or like the one the most prominent examples is when Robert Scoble who was the face of Microsoft for a number of us obviously moved on and I believe is now I think he’s still at Rackspace. I’m not sure he’s somewhere, but Microsoft has never really recovered from that. And you know, from those early days, he was in the right place at the right time. And now you got you have their CEO Satya Nadella doing a good job of being a much more human face because let’s be honest Bill Gates was never all that

Kevin Magee
but it is still one of those cases where if you were to ask who was who do you think of when you think of Microsoft other than Bill Gates

Christopher Penn
you know for an entire generation people was Roberts right for CEOs who are

considering influencer marketing and stuff How do they weigh that risk to say like, Yeah, do I do I want a time I do I want to tie my brand to a person

especially given that a number of influencers have you know, once once you open the door, and you look at all the skeletons of closet, go, ooh, I don’t know if this person my brand.

Katie Robbert
Well, and I think that that said, I think that it’s, you know, it’s your responsibility as the person leading the charge to do your due diligence about the person that you’re considering being you know, the face of your brand, if it’s not us specifically, in our case, it’s not me, it’s you and I’m happy with that because I have a good understanding of what it is that you’re that use our when your personal brand goes out there and what kind of messaging and the things that you share what all of that looks like and even the response to the things that you share? Like I understand your audience base pretty well enough that I feel comfortable that there is overlap between what our company is trying to do and what your personal brand is working to accomplish and I think honestly The other thing you know, it just comes down to communication so, you know the CEO talking with the potential influencer of what are your goals, what do you want to accomplish and then trying to see if the company can meet those goals of the influencer in such a way that it keeps the influencer on board for as long as possible. You know, so, it sort of that you know, I love Venn diagrams, it’s you know, it’s you have the goals of the influencer, you have the goals of the company and so where does it meet in the middle so that the influencer still has that autonomy for their personal brand. But then they’re still meeting the goals of the company and then the company has, you know, their third set of goals that have nothing to do with the influencer so that you’re diversifying and it’s not all completely riding on that one person. So that

Christopher Penn
brings us full circle that and we better off having that just be a pet or an animal, some kind of because you’re obviously a an animal by itself is not going to tweet something racist, maybe species,

and they’re gonna be far fewer skeletons in the closet. Stephanie is do we think that’s a valid tactic for someone if they’re considering they want to get into social at a lower risk way?

Unknown
Um, you know,

Katie Robbert
I think, I think it’s like anything else? It depends. It depends on what your goal is. And so if your goal is to have a face of your company, and you don’t want the rest of it, being a person who could leave then yeah, I think an animal is a good way to go. Because as we know, people rally behind animals and animal rights, and people rally behind cute puppy pictures. Great example. Yesterday, Amazon Prime Day started, the site immediately crashed. So they started posting pictures of the pets of the employees. And people were like, Oh, this is great. Well, I know I can’t get my Amazon Prime stuff. But at least I’m looking at pictures of dogs. You know, it’s a lot more difficult to get upset with a dog because the dog didn’t do anything. He’s just cute. And it is to the person who’s trying to distract you from the thing while they’re fixing it. So, you know, for a company to choose an animal versus a person, it’s not a bad way to go. But again, it always comes back to What’s your goal, and what are you trying to accomplish? And making sure you have a plan versus randomly picking pictures of dogs and putting them up and hoping that it works. One of the tactical takeaway, make sure you’re a 44 page on your website is a dog.

Yes. And, you know, speaking of we’re going to do that. I’m

Unknown
not kidding. We’re gonna do

Unknown
Um,

Katie Robbert
no, but I mean, and again, it’s sort of comes down to knowing your audience. So if you’re in a b2b tech space, you know, would your audience necessarily respond to a dog? Or are they like, seriously hardcore about whatever the thing is, you know, coding or engineering? And would they say, well, you lose credibility by having a dog instead of me being able to talk to an actual person? So I think it you know, again, it always goes back to what’s the goal? What’s the question you’re trying to answer? And does it meet the needs of your audience? Well, I

Christopher Penn
think there’s an interesting something in there, in that he, there is no distinction b2b to see, right there is there’s the person there’s always a human being at the other end by and as long as that person doesn’t have, you know, like trauma from being attacked by somebody’s dog or something like that, then

even in a in a, quote, serious context, they are still a human being, and they are you and unlike posting you know, 25 or 30 years ago, it will be it would have been accepted we’ll have a web really been prominent to to have a picture of an attractive something or other you know member of the opposite and a clue that’s an appropriate today’s right. But having cute dog or cat

people will still respond to the at a human level. So it’s maybe the other angle on this is that we’re talking about the human ization of a brand by not by using humans, we’re using humans pets, but by appealing to something that is far more universal, especially since today with every social channel and network and app, you can’t be sure what the common ground is,

Katie Robbert
right? No, and that’s a really good point. And while it’s a little bit off the topic of influencers, along that same vein, you know, Google when the internet is down, you can play it as an as a video game. So you see this little icon of a dinosaur and you can play like an original Mario Brothers game where he can just hop over the cactus you know, so it’s a great tactic to keep people engaged, you know, okay, so I’m going to play this video game while Google fixes Whatever happened to the internet or whatever happened to their offering. And I think that you know, it is a really smart tactic again, sort of going back to the Amazon example people were still having positive conversations about Amazon yesterday when the site went down for Prime Day because they were distracted by pictures of really cute dogs

Christopher Penn
yeah so maybe the takeaway for that is not it may be a pedal influencer but it may more even more importantly be developing your own influencers because you can and and certainly if it’s your dog, eat as long as your dog or cat or armadillo or whatever it’s not you know, terrifying to people

hopefully you know, that’s something you can build and then own and who knows, maybe you’ll end up pivoting from a data science around to a pet

Katie Robbert
I don’t see that in our future I guess I’ll never say never my dogs are pretty cute and actually yours yours is so chill that he would make a great mascot

Christopher Penn
Yep. So as always if you have questions or comments please leave us a note on the website very interesting insights dot com and subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter and we’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This