In most sectors, Instagram is a level playing field where independent brands and heavyweights compete evenly for engagement. However, the phenomenon of pet influencers upends this equation.
Thousands of pet influencers have accounts on Instagram. The most popular influencers, such as @nala_cat and @dougthepug, have a fan following unparalleled by even the biggest brands. The most heavily followed brand in L2’s study, Pro Plan, has around 88,000 Instagram followers; @nala_cat has 3.4 million. That makes pet influencers crucial for any pet care brand seeking a digital footprint on Instagram.
While independent brands generally outperform powerhouses such as Nestlé Purina, accounting for half of the 10 brand accounts with the most Instagram engagement in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Pet Care US, only the biggest brands are able to take advantage of influencers to increase their visibility. Purina ONE received more engagement on a single influencer post mentioning the brand than on 158 branded posts over a one-year time frame. And taking into account influencer posts, Friskies’ share of all interactions with pet care brands observed in the study soared from 10% to 52%. This makes clear that while independent brands are working on creating their own niche on Instagram, enterprise brands use higher advertising budgets to clinch the prize.