It’s been a long time coming, and I finally gave in and created an Instagram account for my dog. And before you ask…yes, I have always been one of those people who takes my phone out to show photos of Jossi to anyone who would look. And yes, I am now one of those people who spends a few hours a week posting photos of Jossi on the ‘gram accompanied with witty renditions of what he might say in the situation if given a voice.

Much like the rest of the world of pet owners, I think my dog is the cutest out there. It just so happens that oftentimes, other people agree with me. Alright, maybe they don’t use the word ‘cute’ per se – but ‘handsome’ and ‘beautiful’ get thrown around a lot when I take him for walks around town or adventures in the mountains. Since bringing him into our family back in 2014, both Ian and I have been badgered by friends and family about creating an Instagram account for Jossi and we’ve always responded with a shake of our heads. Our main rebuttal: “What would we post on our own accounts if he had his own?”

So what changed? During a recent content and marketing holiday push at my full-time job, I began a deep dive into the way the influencing world works. Specifically, how do Instagram influencers and ‘celebrities’ build their accounts and brands through the social media tool. Soon after my research began, I learned that many of the big accounts that I follow buy a good chunk of their followers and engagement. This isn’t a general rule, as I like to believe that there are truly organic accounts out there still earning a well-deserved following in an authentic way, but this newfound knowledge definitely burst my bubble in a big way.

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Yeah, no duh.” A little ‘fun’ fact about me: I am almost always behind the curve on all things ‘trending’ in the mainstream. Unless it has to do with mountain bikes, skiing, cute puppies, or currently all things Instant Pot, I am likely no more hip than my 64 year-old mother. For reference, my mom is still trying to figure out how to make an Apples iTunes playlist, so there you go. But I digress…

So there I am, feeling a bit deflated about the realities behind how the world of social media actually works. I start to dig through my personal feed and guessing whether or not the posts/accounts are ‘paying their way’. FYI, it’s not a very fun game. But as I scrolled, I started wondering what the organic growth on an account would look like when no money was spent in building it. Is it still possible for an account to gain that ever-elusive Insta-famous status without dishing out cold hard cash in return for exposure?

And this is where Jossi popped into my mind. I had a dog, a shit ton of photos of said dog, and enough curiosity and free time to play a little social experiment of my very own – and so began @whatwouldjossido.

To be clear, it is not our intention nor expectation to have anything created here going viral. This is nothing but yet another fun adventure of mine, setting out to learn more about the inner workings of both the social platform and the social media community as a whole.

The goal:

  • See how a new Instagram account could grow without paying for anything – this includes paying for likes, followers, shoutouts, giveaway participation, etc.
  • See if Jossi can start pulling his own weight around here and get some free treats or something. His food doesn’t come cheap…
  • Possibly find some more four-legged friends for Jossi to play with in our area.
  • Last but not least, share some smiles and laughs with our small corner of the world during a time when the world oftentimes feels like it’s falling apart. I am of the belief that the best cure for stress is cute dogs. Period.

The how:

  • Post to his account 3-5 times a week with a mix of older photos (throwbacks, flashbacks, etc.) and new shots from both our adventures and our daily life.
  • Find free online tools to help automate, boost, and manage what is expected to be an ongoing account.
  • Engage with similar accounts through hashtags, post liking, following, and direct messaging.

Hashtags that we use: #adventuredogs #backcountrypaws #dogsthatexplore #traildog #gsd #zukespets #mydogismy #pnwonderdogs #snowdog #kurgotogether #livelifeoffleash #pnwdogs #thegreatoutdogs #beardog #thewilderside #gsdlove

The setup:

  • Instagram phone app
  • Free Everliker Google Chrome extension running at 350 targeted likes/day on my personal desktop [see targeted hashtags above]
  • Free version of Gramto that allows me to pre-schedule posts for the upcoming week

The no-no’s:

  • No $$$.
  • No auto-following, auto-unfollowing, auto-commenting, or auto-DMing.
  • No taking advantage of or using individuals or brands for personal gain.
  • No taking this too seriously. Motto: “Just don’t be a dick.”

So with the basic guidelines and vision set, and the account handle chosen, I em-barked (hehe) on The Journey of Jossi. Next stop: Insta-fame! 😉

The timeline:

December 5th, 2018: @whatwouldjossido is born. Jossi couldn’t care less, and he eats an 8″ rawhide bone in approximately 25 minutes – potentially a new PR.

December 6th, 2018: Jossi’s first #tbt post goes out. Man, he used to frickin’ adorable. I miss the days where I could actually pick him up…

December 8th, 2018: Family and friends are reaching out to express their excitement with Jossi’s new account. @whatwouldjossido is picking up traction, and I found a great Instagram management tool called Gramto that allows me to create and schedule posts for the upcoming week – will definitely be using this tool for myself and for clients going forward, as well.

December 20th, 2018: The holidays are approaching and Jossi is starting to come skiing with us again. Cue the snow photos on @whatwouldjossido and the long days of trying to retrain Jossi to heel when skiing – with a lot of room for improvement.

January 4th, 2019: New year and not much has changed. Adventuring by weekend, posting by week and @whatwouldjossido chugs along. Jossi is, as usual, restless and amped at all times and so we start having more frequent puppy play dates to get some of his energy out.

January 18th, 2019: @whatwouldjossido hits 1,000 followers, already garnering more engagement than both Ian and my own personal accounts. Jossi meanwhile spends his day on the couch napping and periodically waking himself up with his own farts. #instafamousherewecome

January 23rd, 2019: I’m sitting on my couch with Jossi snoring throatily one cushion over, writing this post, and reflecting on this newest endeavor thus far. We went into this experiment without many expectations, so all in all I am really happy with how everything has panned out to date.

The takeaways – thus far:

  1. Running the additional account doesn’t take much time on my end, and obviously Jossi gives no f*ucks on the matter. I see no reason to pull the plug, and plan to continue full steam ahead.
  2. My goals and my setup will stay the same, and along the road ahead I have some additional goals around learning more about pet photography, how to use more settings, etc. on my DSLR, and how to use Lightroom for photo post-production.
  3. Jossi is making a wonderful model, albeit a rambunctious and temperamental one who doesn’t always enjoy looking at his mom when she pulls out the camera.
  4. Ultimately, I have much more fun with Jossi’s account – everything from posting, messaging, and engaging with other accounts and posts – than I do on my own. There’s something very refreshing about removing any self-promotion or ego from an endeavor like this. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the @whatwouldjossido feed is literally a compilation of ‘Adorable Puppy’ YouTube videos. If you’re ever having a tough day and need a pick me up, ask me for his account login and you’ll immediately find it impossible to suppress that wide grin. Like I said, the best cure for stress is cute dogs. Period.

More to come soon as the experiment continues….

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