Archive for dogs in social media

DOGTV – The First Television Channel for dogs

Dog TV logoThis week the New York Times reported on a new cable channel, Dog TV; the story was also picked up by MediaPost.  The first thought that came to my mind, was how are they monetizing this? What advertiser in their right mind would buy space targeted to the canine demographic?  Turns out it’s a pay channel, now only available in San Diego, as an online stream, and an iPhone app.  A national launch is in the plans for late this year.

The premise is that Dog TV is something for your dog to watch while you’re not home, helping to relieve dog owner guilt at leaving the dog alone, further proof people want to offer services for their dogs as they would for human family members.  The channel also purports to help dogs acclimate to a variety of sounds and encourages the dog to relax at certain times and be alert at others.  I’ve spent enough days home with my dogs to know that adult dogs spend most of the day sleeping; I’m not sure they’d go out of their way to wake up for a favorite program.

Overall, the channel is doing a  great job with PR and social media getting the word out as they work toward a the national rollout.  I’m not sure I’ll be popping for an additional premium channel for my dogs, but I’ll check it out if appears in the local cable lineup.

 

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Bingo Pet Salon Offers Upscale Pet Services

Bingo Pet Salon StorefrontSoutheast Michigan’s local MetroMode media outlet reported on Bingo Pet Salon an upscale pet business opening in Royal Oak, one of the hippest inner ring Detroit suburbs. Bingo Pet Salon offers a contemporary look and feel and in addition to dog and cat grooming services, offers pet sitting and locally made specialty pet products, including personalized collars.  Located near the heart of the walkable downtown Royal Oak shopping district, the salon offers pet owners the opportunity to drop off their pets for grooming, take their time shopping and dining and then pick up their pet on the way home.  The business offers a free photo share for pet-sitting clients who become fans of the salon on Facebook.

This savvy business is taking advantage of a great location to position the typical time required to groom a pet as a benefit to their busy owners. Their pet sitting services include free email or text updates to out-of-town owners, with an upgrade available to include photo messaging about the pet.  The merchandise offered aligns with the trend to “buy local” and offers unique items which are in keeping with the boutique nature of human clothing and accessories sold in the Royal Oak shopping area.  The hours of operation are  targeted   to working pet owners, open every day except Monday until at least 6 PM and until 7PM on Friday and Saturday.

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Facebook Pages for Dogs

Dogs in Social Media Infographic

While strictly speaking this post is more about dogs in social media than marketing per se, I just couldn’t resist a post about an article on Mashable which reported on a Lab 42 study and infographic about the number of dogs on Facebook.  It seems that about 14% of the people in the Lab 42 study had created Facebook pages for their dogs,  consistent with a UK study also reported on Mashable, which found that 10% of all UK pets have some sort of social media profile, including not only Facebook, but also Twitter and YouTube.  No mention of dogs on Linkedin, I’ve seen a number of dog-business interest groups, but no canines yet.

When I first saw these articles, I wondered how this squared with Facebook’s Terms of Use, which I thought limited profiles to real people, who are also permitted create pages and groups for other entities.  When I read the fine print, it just prohibits people from creating profiles without permission from  the person being profiled; given the large number of dogs on Facebook, I assume they fall within the rules.

Checking a couple of the dogs I’m associated with on Facebook , Rufus has a personal profile, while Satchel has a page.  I’m also friends with a few profiles that represent Bull Terrier kennels, an entity that I think is more human than canine, but perhaps a gray area. The most popular Facebook dog with over 1 million fans for his page,  is  Boo the Pomeranian.

NOTE: I recently noticed a thread on the Facebook group “AKC Judges Report Card” discussing whether judges should friend dogs, specifically dogs that might be shown under them, on Facebook.  The thought that the dogs might want to be careful who their friends are never crossed my mind when I created this post!

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Facebook for Dog Marketing

Facebook LogoLinkedin’s Pet Online Marketing Group started a discussion(join the group to see the full discussion) about members’ Facebook pages which as of December 31, 2010 had generated over 170 responses.   I spent some time reviewing the sites posted in the last couple months and wanted to post some general observations.

My impression was that the Page vs Group decision favored pages,  but there were a few businesses that had a group page and one that was using a personal page (named after the business). The best pages include customized FBML pages that hardly look like Facebook at all, frequent posts with relevant, engaging content that spawn discussions among their fans. The weakest pages  were those whose information tab consists of a single link to their business site, and who rarely post anything to the business wall and have several blank tabs.

The array of businesses represented by people commenting on that Linkedin discussion was quite wide including pet products,  pet services, books about animals, marketing services, retailers, media, artshelters, clothing (for pets and people), and of course the leading MLM pet product, Life’s Abundance pet  food.  I know that a number of national and franchised pet businesses have Facebook pages as well, so I think this mix reflects the membership of the Linkedin group, not all Facebook pet-related pages.

Facebook is becoming an ever more popular and effective marketing tool. In closing I’d urge all pet marketers to use it, but make an effort to fully populate your page, remove any tabs you don’t use, and commit to regularly updating the Wall content as a bare minimum.  The more web-savvy may want to explore customizing their page with FBML Another point to remember is that fan pages with 25 or more fans can create a custom URL in the form of www.facebook.com/fanpage which is easier for visitors to find than the default URL that includes this info plus a numeric string.

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Dogdration dog sports beverage

dogdration logoPetfood Industry reported on another entrant in the dog beverage category. Dogdration is the brainchild of  Colorado State University student Brian Fate who felt his dog needed to replace electrolytes after vigorous exercise.  The Rocky Mountain Collegian recently featured  a story on Brian and his company. The product is available online and in a limited number of retail locations. At nearly $4 for a 20 oz bottle and $36 for a case of 12 this is clearly a premium product (I’d bet my dogs would drink Gatorade for a lot less!) Marketing efforts are well steeped in social media; Dogdration has Facebook , YouTube and Twitter accounts and Brian Fate’s Linkedin and MySpace profiles mention he is founder of the company.  Dogdration has even hired professional blog writers to help with marketing efforts.

I’m not certain that dogs need beverages more complicated than water, but this product appears better researched than most. Brian’s passion for exercise and concern for his dog is reflected in Dogdration, while some of the other entrants seem purely opportunistic. I will continue to watch this emerging product category with interest.

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Walmart expands ASPCA partnership

Lend A Paw LogoWalmart is expanding its partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.) In addition to a line of ASPCA branded products featured in the Walmart pet department in 2008, the companies recently launched a co-branded Facebook page titled Lend A Paw and are sponsoring a Pet Fair in Miami on May 1, 2010.

MediaPost writes about the ASPCA’s promotional efforts including the Facebook page and partnerships with multiple pet product companies to promote April as National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.  Walmart’s move to associate itself with this well-known animal charity shows that the company takes the pet market seriously and is trying hard to position itself as a caring, pet-friendly company.  This reminds me a bit of Warren G Harding’s promotion of his Airedale, Laddie Boy, as the First Dog, which helped deflect public attention from some of the more colorful aspects of his family life.

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Del Monte Brands Sponsor Pet Blogger Event

Blog Paws LogoMediaPost reported on DelMonte’s sponsorship of a pet blogger conference, BlogPaws,  April 9-10, 2010 in Columbus Ohio.  The conference is open to all people who blog about pets, whether personally or for a corporation. Del Monte’s Meow Mix cat food and Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food are the presenting  sponsors, and are joined by a host of other pet food, pet product, pet retailer, veterinary, and pet media sponsors.

BlogPaws conference sessions help attendees create successful blogs, covering  branding, search engine optimization, promotions, and  some of the most common pet blog topics, like product reviews and rescue.  You can follow the conference on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

It’s killing me that I entered dog shows on the same dates before I learned about this event – I would love to go!

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Fetching Tags Custom Dog Tags

Fetching TagsI’ll admit being a sucker for marketing featuring photos of Bull Terriers! I found  Fetching Tags through their social media outreach on Twitter. The company sells premium custom dog tags, made of brushed aluminum. While lacking a bit in the amount of information they contain compared to other, more practical tags like those from Boomerang Pet Tags , Fetching tags offers tags of a whimsical, decorative nature that can be personalized with a pet’s name and owner’s phone number.  A premium product that allows dog owners to show their pet’s personality while also providing a practical reason to justify the purchase.

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Puppy Tweets from Mattel

Mattel logoAn alert on the Eurodogtraining blog led me to news of a new product announcement from Mattel: Puppy Tweets, a device that allows your dog to send tweets via a collar tag.  The tag responds to noise and motion and sends one of several tweets in response to your dog’s activity (or lack thereof.)   Details on how the device works were a little sparse, apparently the collar device sends data on sound and motion to a USB sensor mounted on your computer, and you leave your dog’s Twitter account signed in while you’re out.  I find it similar in concept to the  sensor-based TweetingBar account which reports on the beer keg’s status in the New York office of digital agency 360i.

Puppy Tweets allows your dog will join a number of other tweeting canines, most of whom have more than a few canned responses to share.  The only practical use I can see is to check on a dog with barking issues when left alone.  I don’t as a rule follow dog accounts that only tweet items of interest to dogs  and I don’t plan on signing up any of my canines when this product launches in the fall.  For $29.95 it might be an amusing novelty to some, but for I can’t see it catching on with anyone who is serious about either dogs or Twitter.

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Shelters adopt social media

Social Media LogosThe Pioneer Press reports on TwinCities.com about Minneapolis-St.Paul area animal shelters use of social media to publicize and place rescued pets. They discuss the social media strategies of the Animal Ark, Animal Humane Society, and the Minnesota Valley Humane Society All three organizations have established both Twitter and Facebook accounts. The AHS also has a YouTube channel and a Flickr account but these accounts are dedicated to the organization’s activities,  not specific adoptable animals.

All the organizations profiled seem to think that the social media outreach has resulted in more traffic to their adoptable animals’ pages, and the AHS has seen its donations increase, in a year when many charitable organizations have seen them fall.  Animal Ark cited several stories of animals adopted shortly after adding the “Add This” link sharing service to their profiles.  The MVHS feels that potential adopters  like the social media outreach, but the staff time to keep these additional sites updated is a drain on resources, free isn’t always completely free!

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