Whether you love cats, dogs, or something a little more exotic, the odds are good that you have a pet of your own at home.
As of 2023, 66% of U.S. households have a pet, according to a Forbes Advisor survey. It’s no wonder why the pet industry has become such an interesting, fast-growing business to be in.
With the growth of this industry comes new marketing tactics to target the different audiences who love pets, such as social media marketing. Although the survey found that millennials were the age group most likely to have a pet, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers weren’t far behind. Meanwhile, 16% of Gen Zers currently have a pet, but the number seems to be increasing as they get older, buy houses, and gain higher incomes.
Social media marketing can help pet brands target all of these generations, though different tactics and platforms will need to be used, a fact that some pet brands are already embracing. Let’s check out the pet brands that have their audiences barking for more online.
The Top 4 Pet Brands on Social Media
The Best Pet Brand on Facebook: Diamond Pet Foods
What They Do Best: Acquiring UGC
Once you have a user-generated content (UGC) strategy down pat like Diamond Pet Foods, you’ll find that you’ll hardly need to make your own content for social at all. Using UGC is a cost-saving measure, as you save on having to hire your own photographers and plan photoshoots.
Diamond Pet Foods uses an ambassador program called their Fan Family Program and contests that ask fans to send in their own Diamond Pet Foods-related content to build a portfolio filled with photos and videos that can be repurposed on their social media accounts. All of the brand’s top 10 posts by engagement rate between December 1, 2022, and November 30, 2023, were UGC, like this post of a cat named Mowgli.
This post served several purposes. In addition to reusing UGC, the photo was also captioned asking for images of other people’s pets in the comments. By asking for return photos, Diamond Pet Foods gained access to even more UGC and boosted the likelihood of conversation in their comments, upping their engagement rate. The post scored an engagement rate of 41.5%, which is 345x the average engagement rate for the retail industry on Facebook, according to our Social Media Industry Benchmark Report for 2023.
The Best Pet Brand on Instagram: BARK
What They Do Best: Utilizing Reels
BARK, an online shop for all things dogs that’s likely best known for their BarkBox monthly subscription service, found that the key to a great year on Instagram is maximizing their Reels usage. Nine of BARK’s top 10 posts in terms of engagement rate during this time period were Reels. When it comes to the retail industry, the posts with the highest engagement were Reels in 2023.
However, BARK also found success by following a formula similar to that of competitor Diamond Pet Foods. Nine of BARK’s top 10 posts were also UGC. BARK added additional value to their reused Reels by adding captions that explained what was happening in the video or provided directions to access more information on BARK’s website.
Consider, for instance, BARK’s top post by engagement rate during this time period, which was a repurposed TikTok video of a dog rushing to look out the window when he hears something. The caption explained why the dog could listen to what humans couldn’t and why an Australian Shepherd like the one in the video is especially great at hearing even the slightest sound. The Reel earned an engagement rate of 1,990%, 1,600x the average engagement rate for the retail industry in Instagram.
The Best Pet Brand on Twitter: Blue Buffalo
What They Do Best: Encouraging conversation
Over on Twitter, Blue Buffalo reigns supreme with a strategy that takes some time but clearly paid off for the brand in 2023, as they used conversational content and consistent replies to keep the conversation going. Many of Blue Buffalo’s tweets for the year were memes or photos, but the key was what they wrote in or about the image. Blue Buffalo’s Twitter account used their tweets to ask for responses in the form of pet photos.
This simple strategy fits right in with the findings of a Mars Petcare survey, which found that 65% of pet owners post about their pets at least twice per week. Blue Buffalo essentially gave them an outlet to post. With another survey by OnePoll finding that owners take about 400 photos of their animals per year, those pet parents have a wealth of pictures to choose from. It makes sense why asking for pet photos would be an effective way to gain responses online.
Blue Buffalo’s top post by engagement rate was a photo asking people to retweet if their Twitter account is run by a cat and share pictures of the cat behind it all. The tweet garnered an engagement rate of 90.9%, which is 6,060x the average engagement rate for the retail industry on Twitter.
What also seems to have helped Blue Buffalo is the fact that the social media manager took the time to respond to many of the photos in the replies. Although asking for photos initiated the conversation, the engagement rate continued to increase as the social media manager kept the discussions going.
The Best Pet Brand on TikTok: Spot & Tango
What They Do Best: Entertaining over advertising
Pet food delivery service Spot & Tango partnered with popular content creator Tyler Regan to help them secure the title of the best pet brand on TikTok. Regan is best known for his funny videos about strange yet relatable interactions. Although he does videos about interactions between neighbors or customers and workers, he did several videos throughout the year for Spot & Tango showing an interaction between someone looking to get a dog and someone else trying to steer them in the right direction for their needs.
For instance, Spot & Tango’s top TikTok by engagement rate during this time period was about someone looking to apply to adopt a boxer. In the video, Regan can be seen playing both the potential adoptee and the shelter worker. The result is a funny video that’s all too relatable for boxer owners, as Regan details a boxer’s propensity for being energetic, twerking, and stealing all the room on the bed. The TikTok gained an engagement rate of 1,660%, over 110,000x the average engagement rate for the retail industry on TikTok.
Regan also did a litany of other videos for Spot & Tango, including ones detailing all the dogs different celebrities have, comedy-laced explainer videos about different breeds, and a series of videos centered around a weekly joke about dogs. The videos are highly engaging and fun, and they noticeably lack direct references to Spot & Tango
So, why is it such a good strategy if Spot & Tango isn’t making direct advertisements? It’s all about creating a TikTok strategy that actually fits what people want to see on TikTok. According to a survey from The New Consumer, the top two reasons people spend time on TikTok are “mindless entertainment” and “comic relief.”
Although you might learn a thing or two about dogs from Regan’s videos, these TikToks are more about having fun and making people laugh than they are about anything else. Regan’s videos, as funny as they are, will pull people to Spot & Tango’s TikTok page to find more comedy.
There, they’ll also find links to Spot & Tango’s website, where they can learn more about the company’s products and services. The comedic TikToks work as more indirect advertising instead of using the videos as direct ads.
Trends Across the Top Brands in the Pet Industry
We’ve talked a lot about who’s doing social media particularly well in the pet space, but there’s a lot more we can learn from the pet industry that we can apply to our own social media channels. Let’s dive into some of the top trends in the pet space and learn how they can help boost your engagement when you take them into your own social media marketing playbook.
Bring It Into the Real World
If you’re looking to gain content and a positive reputation, consider working to create some engagement in real life beyond the engagement you get on your social media posts. When you hold real-life events, you’re gaining notoriety offline. However, these events are also a gold mine when it comes to getting content that you can repurpose online, too.
One of the top posts by engagement rate from pet food brand Stella & Chewy’s across any platform was a TikTok showing off what happened at the brand’s event on Santa Monica Pier. The event was a silent fireworks show, which allowed dogs to get in on Fourth of July fun without the fear that usually comes from loud, booming fireworks.
The post earned an engagement rate of 251%, over 16,000x the average engagement rate for the retail industry on TikTok. However, content from the fireworks show appears several more times throughout the brand’s top posts.
Doing Good for Good Content
According to Sprout Social’s research, younger generations, like Gen Zers, tend to prefer brands that align with their values. Corporate social responsibility is a big reason why this generation follows who they follow. Gen Zers want to see the brands they like stand for something, which is why you should incorporate content into your social media strategies that show what your company does to do good.
Consider pet food brand Freshpet. One of the brand’s top posts by engagement rate across any social media platform was a TikTok showing the company giving a makeover to 12 adoptable dogs from St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey. This makeover and photoshoot gave the company great content, and the post functioned to show that Freshpet is working to have a positive effect on animal welfare. In the caption, the TikTok gave ways to adopt the pets the brand was showcasing.
The post earned an engagement rate of 61.5%, 4,100x the average engagement rate for the retail industry on TikTok. Even better, the comments were filled with people asking to adopt the animals, which goes to show how one social media post has the power to make a difference.
Our Social Media Industry Benchmark Report for 2023 found that several industries did well with content that went behind the scenes. It seems like behind-the-scenes content is here to stay, and it’s continuing to get traction, especially on Instagram and TikTok. Pet food delivery company The Farmer’s Dog deserves a shoutout for taking their Super Bowl commercial spot and turning it into tons of behind-the-scenes content.
Many of the brand’s top posts by engagement rate across any social media platform during 2023 were photos and videos that introduced social media users to the star players in the commercial, namely the dogs. Over on TikTok, one such post shared the story of Blue and how he came to star in the ad. The post earned an engagement rate of 19.4%, nearly 1,300x the average engagement rate for retail brands on TikTok.
To find the best pet brands on social media, we first compiled a list of some of the biggest pet companies out there that posted at least once per week throughout the period of December 1, 2022, and November 30, 2023.
Those that met that quota had their engagement rates compared to the average engagement rates in the retail industry, according to our Social Media Industry Benchmark Report for 2023. For a brand to rank as the winning pet brand for a specific social media platform, the brand must have the highest engagement rate in their category, provided that they also posted once per week throughout the year.
Start analyzing your performance on social media with Rival IQ.
Start analyzing your performance on social media with Rival IQ.Get my free trial
Wrapping Up a Year of Pet Brands on Social Media
A look at the top pet brands on social media goes to show that they’ve really become experts in getting online engagement. From repurposing UGC to finding ways to encourage interactions on social, these brands are showcasing impressive tactics that helped them beat the competition.
However, these tactics don’t just work for the pet world. Trends like making value-based, event-based, or behind-the-scenes content may work for pet professions, but they can be adapted to all sorts of industries.