We build the analytics around here so it’s easy for us to get caught up in things from that end of the spectrum. With that in mind, we’re reaching out to some different perspectives on using social media, from Instagram influencers to podcasters and more.
This is an interview with Melissa Kraemer, momager for popular Instagram couch hound Brim (named for Wilford Brimley) the mastiff. We wanted some insight into what it’s like to run an Instagram account with 23.2k followers (and counting) for your dog, so we reached out and asked some questions. Brim was disappointed that none of the questions were edible.
1. What prompted you to start Brim’s account and how has what you post (or don’t post) on it changed as he has gained more followers?
I started Brim’s Instagram account before we even brought him home, because I’m extra like that. It honestly started as a place I could spam a bunch of puppy pictures without everyone unfollowing my personal accounts, but then I found myself posting on his Instagram account more than any other social media account. Now that it’s more than just my friends following, I definitely try to post less “Brim amongst my messy house” pictures and stay away from posting pictures that are too dark or too blurry, but mostly the content is “weird dog sitting on the couch like people”, like it’s always been.
2. Do you monitor any specific metrics around his Instagram account and/or use those to plan what you post in the future?
I’m a terrible social media manager, I’m surprised Brim hasn’t fired me by now. I always keep an eye on the amount of followers, and every time he reaches a milestone we do something special. I tried to shoot and confetti gun for when he reached 10,000 followers, but it turns out he found that terrifying. We settled on giving him a cheeseburger with “10k” written on it which he found much more satisfying. I try to monitor which hashtags seem to be drawing the most attention, but I could be much more diligent about analytics than I am.
3. Is there any part of social media marketing or strategy running Brim’s account has made you want to learn more about?
I think having a strategy and even scheduling posts is something that I have always meant to do but have yet to really set up. Right now it is very organic, I act as a paparazzi while Brim just goes about his normal life (read: he does nothing) and I slowly post the best pictures with the best captions I can come up with. There really is no strategy, albeit I sometimes try to get special pictures to celebrate holidays or make a jab at something in the news. I would really like to pre-schedule posts and have my captions ready to create a little more consistency, but so far I have just spent my extra time hugging my large dog until he runs away from me.
4. Are you often approached by brands to partner with them or promote their products? Have any been a hilariously bad fit? What’s your strategy for handling good or bad offers?
Yes! Every so often we get a message to partner up with a brand. Most of them are in the correct lane: treats, brushes, collars, etc. More often than not, the ones we jump on are free product in exchange for a post/review. Brim is a very excellent treat-tester with a refined palate, so it’s a no-brainer. I try to stay away from promotions where we have to buy something or where we get commission from pushing sales unless it’s a product I really believe in and trust. Luckily, we don’t get too many weird or off-base offers. Sometimes a collar company will ask us to promote their collars with out carrying a size that would even fit Brim’s ginormous neck(s). A lot of the time, people will want me to promote their dog’s account which I don’t quite understand. If someone has put together a nice message for their brand, I usually try to reply respectfully with a “thanks, but it’s not for us.” Sometimes I am known to use the ignore button as well.
5. Do brands want specific, metrics-based results from working with you?
So far, the companies that have approached us have been pretty relaxed, just asking for us to tag them in a picture or video of Brim using their product without much info on how they are tracking metrics.
I think the brands that approach us can tell how “relaxed” I am about his social media, so we don’t get approached my the more serious brands— yet.
6. Do you have any specific frustrations with running this kind of account on Instagram? (Changes with the algorithm, etc?) What differences do you experience between Instagram and Brim’s FB Page?
The algorithm change was really frustrating, especially for keeping up with what other dog Instagram accounts I admire are doing. Personally, I’m really bad at replying to comments and keeping up with the many wonderful people who comment daily on Brim’s feed. I start out strong responding to people, but suddenly I am 40 comments behind and I’m overwhelmed. I am better at managing his Facebook feed since it is a little more seamless with my own account, but I also don’t post as much on his Facebook as I do on his Instagram. We get a lot more engagement on Instagram; I think it’s more where people go for their cute dog pictures.
7. What logistical problems do you face running a popular Instagram account; pressure to update when you’re at work or on vacation? Pressure to constantly improve content while you’re juggling a full-time job and regular life?
I think the pressure to update at all times in the biggest thing. Obviously, I’m obsessed with my dog and I usually have enough pictures post even when I’m busy. But there are times when life gets pretty crazy and I just don’t have the time or the pictures to update like I normally do. I try to be proactive when I go on vacation and make sure that I have enough content to update while I’m away. Though, if I don’t post for a couple days, there are some super fans that will notice and message us asking if Brim is ok (which is sweet). I also struggle with being the annoying paparazzi when Brim and my husband are both like “Let us live, woman” when I always have my camera out.
The price of frame, Brim. The price of fame.
8. What’s one thing you wish the general public knew about what it’s like to run an Instagram account for your internet famous pet? Similarly, what advice would you have for someone whose pet is gaining a following on Instagram?
At least for our situation, I wish people knew that my famous dog is still. . .a normal dog. He has neurosis, he’s afraid of new situations and people and the general city life, so he can’t go to public events or out for walks on busy streets. He is a terrible listener. He drools a lot. He sleeps a lot. 90% of his day he is just hanging out, doing nothing Instagramable. We can’t really pose him as he is terribly stubborn. I think people assume that I am spending my nights training him to do cute things or bringing him for public appearances to enhance his brand, but we aren’t doing any of that.
I think if you have a dog who responds to training and poses, great! You’re miles ahead of us in having some really cool content and bond with your dog at the same time. But if you’re like me and just wanted a cool way to obsess over your dog who happens to be super charismatic by just being his grumpy self, that’s cool too. Don’t force things and make sure your dog is happy and loved. If you get a fuzzy feeling from staring at your dog just being himself, chances are, someone else will too.
Also, hashtags are your friend
9. Does Brim get any trolls? Do you have a strategy in place for dealing with trolls?
We get tons of trolls. Lots of fat shamers. Yes, people fat shame my dog. I mean, he’s a big boy. I call him fat to his face all the time (sorry, bud), but he’s not overweight in the unhealthy sense, he’s just a mastiff. I used to get real worked up about it and message people his vet’s number so that they could call her with their concerns about my “severely obese dog”, but I usually just block and delete now. Brim has some really wonderful and devoted fans that will come to his rescue and yell at his trolls before I even see the comment, so that usually scares them away.
If I ever have enough free time to fat shame strangers’ dogs on the internet. . .well I hope I find a better hobby.
10. Finally, just how big of a diva is Brim now? Has he presented you with a rider for unlimited snacks and outdoor couches?
Brim has always been a huge diva— his sense of entitlement is at Mariah Carey levels at this point. He pretends he hates when I whip my phone out, but he usually hams it up even more after a few seconds of fake bashfulness. I expect his MTV Crib’s episode to be full of Cristal and over-the-top bubble baths.
We have, on multiple occasions, almost gotten him an outdoor couch, but the second it got wet he would probably demand a new one. What kind of monster makes their dog sit on the ground?!
A huge thanks to Melissa for agreeing to answer our questions for this post! You can follow Brim and his couch adventures on Instagram here.
And check on your own Instagram account with our checkup to see the best time for you to post, and more.