The top dogs of Instagram and what we can learn from them

By Allison Barwacz, Digital Media Content Producer

A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture of a dog is worth a thousand words—plus a thousand laughs, tears, smiles and shares. (Please tell me you don’t show all friends, co-workers, everyone within a 10-foot radius the pictures of your dog your mom sends you every week. Even if you said you didn’t, I wouldn’t believe you.)

In fact, you could guarantee that your dog could get more Instagram followers than you. That may already be the case.

“Americans’ deepening identification with their pets creates a big opportunity for brands,” writes Rebecca Armstrong, co-founder, principal and managing director of North, in a Forbes article. “Today’s pets travel and exercise with us, have their own social media accounts, require stimulating day care, eat organic food, doze on luxury fabrics and even quaff doggie beer. The opportunities for brand extensions seem almost limitless. Like Travelers, Subaru and Toyota, brands that recognize pet love can make stronger connections with their customers.”

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular dog Instagram accounts and what business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies can take away from their success.


A photo posted by jiff (@jiffpom) on

1. Jiff the Pomeranian

Despite the fact that Jiff has 2.4 million Instagram followers, his strongest suit is his YouTube account. What’s most unique about Jiff’s social media strategy is that he’s done something that most other dog-stagrammers haven’t done: developed a mobile application. The app, Jiffmoji, provides users with a new keyboard that integrates GIFs and stickers created in the likeness of Jiff. As one customer review says, “It is worth the money.” ($1.99, in case you were wondering.)

What can we learn from Jiff’s strategy? Identify your target audience and home in on those users’ interests, whether it is multimedia, a creative picture or a phone application.

2. Marnie the Dog

At a whopping 1.9 million followers, Marnie is a 14-year-old Shih Tzu that was adopted from a shelter when she was 10. There’s more than one reason she’s gained so much traction in the Insta-world (besides the fact that you can’t help laughing when you scroll through all the pictures of her). First, she sends a positive message: Marnie encourages people to adopt senior dogs. Second, she has her own personality (even if it consists of misspellings and goofy slang) that makes her lovable and quirky (amirite?). Finally, Marnie used Instagram popularity to expand her Internet following—she has her own website and book.

The key part of Marnie’s strategy is she embraces her weaknesses, such as old age, and frames them as strengths. This gives her more relatable, humble and humane edge above other accounts that Instagram users can’t resist.

3. Tuna the Chiweenie

Tuna was rescued from a Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles when he was four months old. His exaggerated overbite, recessed jawline and wrinkly neck captured the hearts of more than 1.7 million followers since the account’s inception in 2011. What we can take away from his Instagram success? Linking relationships. Mentioning or endorsing other companies through social media (in exchange for them doing the same for your company) is an excellent way to grow your following and gain recognition from accounts that otherwise would never have found you. Shoutout to Loews Hotels for being dog friendly!

4. Doug the Pug

As his name suggests, Doug is a pug who commonly empathizes with the struggles of everyday life (such as being “hungover at brunch with the fam” or falling into “a deep hole of Netflix”). So what’s Doug’s strongest promotional tactic? He’s a social media powerhouse. He’s also frequently active on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. He even has a blue checkmark next to his name on Facebook—the one that verifies the names of celebrities. If there’s one thing we can learn from Doug, it’s to be consistently active across all social media channels.

5. Chloe the Mini Frenchie

Chloe is a 3-year-old mini frenchie owned by lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Loni Edwards. At 131,000 followers, Chloe shows her support for charity auctions benefiting the Humane Society of New York. I mean, why not support your fellow pooches looking for homes? What we can gather from her account is to send a positive message. A positive message paired with a dog in sunglasses is the perfect recipe for social media success.

Allison Barwacz joined North Coast Media in 2014. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating eNewsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites. She loves animals and regularly volunteers at her local animal shelter.

Photo: A co-worker who’s always showing us pictures of his dog.

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