Social media is no longer just a distraction for the kids: The omnipresence of digital media and the world’s increasing connectivity have turned social media into a vital networking platform for everyone. Effective use of social media drives customer engagement, characterizes your brand, amplifies your voice in the marketplace, and ultimately, brings home those milkbones! Still, it’s a daunting endeavor: How can you stay on top of an ever-changing digital landscape, continue to develop your business, and still get 16 hours of sleep a day? If you struggle with these questions, this article is for you. My three successful years as Instagram’s fourth-ranked Dog In Glasses account have taught me a wealth of lessons that I’ll share with you today.
1. Define your brand. Pick a handle that reflects who you are, and use it across all platforms. I did a lot of soul-searching before I settled on @Woofly_Barkington as my handle. When choosing a handle, consider the identity you want to project. Who is your target audience? What do they respond to? What sort of handle tells them who you are? What noises do you make when you’re scared, agitated, or excited?
2. Monetize early. Listen, we all know how hard it is to ask for a paycheck, particularly when your facial muscles won’t form human words. Early on in my career, I was unfairly compensated for a lot of my work: once I went unknowingly into a photo shoot just because I had been promised walkies! Imagine my surprise & humiliation when I ran into the room only to discover that no leash was waiting there. Now that I’ve wised up to the true value of my 700,000 followers, I won’t participate in photoshoots unless at least half a sausage is dangled beside the photographer. I won’t do promotional events unless I’m provided with a treat every 20 minutes, and the scent of a comforting, familiar human throughout. Your career won’t go anywhere until you properly value your skills.
3. Watch out for scams. The internet is still the Wild West of the business world, so keep both eyes open and both ears twitching when you consider opportunities. As you start to build a platform, you may be asked to promote products in exchange for just the product itself. It’s nearly always a bad deal. Remember: You’re a dog, you can’t drink Fitness Tea! Along those same lines, don’t allow yourself to be manipulated. Many social media stars are young (I was only 17 months old when I was offered my first endorsement deal), and many marketing managers will take advantage of your youth and inexperience. They’ll try to undermine your confidence in your brand value by asking you contrived questions like, “Who’s a good boy?” The fact is, you’re a good boy for creating brand engagement, and anyone who suggests you might be a bad boy is a jerk who doesn’t deserve to collaborate with you.
4. Invest in training. People are often hesitant to invest money in social media strategy because they fear that the industry changes too rapidly to merit it. The fact is, the skills provided by a solid obedience school will serve you throughout your career. Building a social media platform requires patience, technical knowledge, and the ability to balance a pair of human glasses on your face without totally freaking the shit out about it. Similarly, no matter how photogenic you are, chewing up the photographer’s tripod is bad form. Investing in solid obedience training early will save you the tabloid humiliation of panicking and biting a fan later.
5. Don’t worry about pooping on the floor occasionally. It happens to the best of us. Just let your assistant pick it up, and carry on.
Woofly Barkington is an actor, model, songwriter, producer, social media entrepreneur and dog.
Image by foundanimals.