It's Raining Cats and Dogs on Social Media

Ranjani Raghupathi
Ranjani Raghupathi Marketing Executive, Unmetric

Posted on January 30th 2014

It's Raining Cats and Dogs on Social Media

It’s official, the internet is run on the power of ‘squee.’ What started as a sector report on the state of social media amongst pet care brands turned into an eye opening realization. The brands that care for Fido and Mr.Whiskers are actual social media rock stars. We’ve seen brands with some crazy engagement in the past, but pet care brands run in a league of their own. They’re the epitome of the super-social brand: regular posts, timely replies, and great insane engagement. Like off the charts insane, like the universe needs more numbers to measure the engagement. Is it the product, their strategies, or can the Internet just not get enough of these furballs of joy? Join Unmetric as we wag our tails through the social media activities of some of the larger pet care brands.

Facebook

Many brands have crossed the 1 million fan mark, so it’s no surprise to see pet care brands like PetSmart and Petcentric by Purina surpass this milestone. In fact, Petco has recently passed the 3 million mark as well! That said, fan numbers alone are not the best testimony to the success of a brand page, having a good percentage of fans talking about you, now that’s something. Facebook’s PTAT number is not a metric that’s very well understood. It takes into account multiple factors, such as the number of people who’ve visited the page, tagged the page in a photo, RSVP’d to the page’s event, and many other capricious metrics, making it harder to benchmark. Nonetheless, many well-known brands struggle to get just 2% of their fan following talking about them. Incredibly, Pet Flow managed to get nearly 50% of their fans talking about them, followed by Pet360, with more than 10% of fans interacting with the brand in some way.

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It is social engagement, rather than the fan growth, that’s contributing to these high numbers. These brands have initiated a good number of conversations with regular admin posts, usually at least once a day. PetFlow though, has posted 716 updates in just 30 days. While some brands would run the risk of being accused of spamming the walls of their fans with so many updates, this mass of posts actually worked out quite well for them - so well infact that it resulted in the brand having hundreds of their posts getting the highest engagement score of 1,000. Unmetric’s engagement score is calculated based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impression each post gets, which enables easy comparison regardless of fan numbers. PetFlow comes out on top with the highest average engagement followed by Wellness Natural Pet Food for Dogs and Cats.

This one post from PetFlow was just one of the many posts that received an engagement score of 1000 and was also the post with the most Likes.

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It’s no surprise that the content from these brands are overflowing with images of animals, given that their brand deals with pets and pet supplies. The posts are well seasoned with humor that resonates with pet owners, information and a strong connection with current events. This post by Petcentric is an example of a pet care brand jumping on an event bandwagon and receiving astounding engagement. While PetFlow had the highest number of admin posts in the time analyzed, Petco talks the most about itself in relation to the number of posts they share.  On the whole, the most engaging posts across the sector are those that involve general happenings, events or opinions, or those posts comprising of a photo or video that pull at the heartstrings (not to mention likes, comments and shares). Another great trend we see across the sector are brands taking ownership of or joining hashtag conversations.

Just as they post content proactively, they don’t shy away from participating in fan initiated conversations. The analyzed brands reply within an average of 9 hours, with Petco being quickest on the buzzer. They all reply to complaints and compliments alike and try their best to keep a customer happy. This reply from Petcentric to a fan posted photo and this response by PetSmart to a customer complaint are testaments to that.

Lessons Learned:

  • Pictures of animals work, but a tail-tale works better! Posts that have a story with it engage better with fans.
  • Treat compliments and complaints alike and reply to as many fan posts as possible; your fans will love you for it.

 

Twitter

Facebook might be in the foreground for these brands but they’re not any less dedicated to Twitter. To illustrate this point, the follower number gives a superficial insight of the brands’ performance. Petco and Petsmart have passed the 100,000 follower mark, while Wellness Pet Food is a distant third with around 20,000 followers. The average growth rate of the petcare brands analyzed was just below 2% with Pet360 having the highest growth rate of 5.17%.

Tweeting regularly is an elementary mantra of this network.  Most of the tweets from these brands are proactive (i.e. not replies or retweets). Pet360 posted the most number of tweets – 446 and had the highest engagement score of 227, while Petco emerges the winner in terms of raw numbers, with their tweets being re-tweeted 1,650 times and favorited nearly 2518 times. PetFlow and Wellness Pet Food tweeted the least in the time period analyzed.

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Twitter is all about the hashtag, and most pet care brands get great engagement with their hashtags. From Petcentric’s #FaceOfPetcentric, to Pet360’s #ProudToBeAPetParent, pet care brands have learnt the art of hashtag usage. It is also noteworthy that these brands promote social responsibility/charity activities through Twitter.

While tweeting proactively can boost conversations, replying to fan @mentions can be a game changer. PetSmart was the brand to be mentioned the most (over 3,250 times) while Petco was the one to make the most replies (almost 300) and this resulted in the latter having the best response rate.  PetFlow did not make any replies in the time period analyzed though they were mentioned 8 times. This shows inconsistency in social strategy, especially since they replied to almost 80% of fan posts on Facebook.

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Petcentric’s replies mostly contain plain text, PetSmart provides the customer with a number to contact and Petco usually requests the person to send an email thus taking the conversation out of public view ASAP.  Petco replies to follower tweets in an average of 2 hours and 43 minutes while Petcentric takes the longest.

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PetSmart is usually quick to join a trending hashtag. The #polarvortex  was used by big brands like Victoria’s Secret and Red Bull, and PetSmart joined the fun as well. Their #polarvortex tweet received one of their highest engagement scores as well, which shows they are not just on-trend but on-target with their content.

Just like on Facebook, these brands address complaints on Twitter. It’s safe to say that most customers are left satisfied with service, with the few negative reviews dealt with at the earliest. Even simple statements were replied to.

Lessons Learned:

  • Audiences love it when two brands have a public conversation.
  • You cannot go wrong with contest.
  • Replying is awesome. ( we can’t say that enough) 

YouTube

Pet Care brands have taken to YouTube like fish to water. Their videos are diverse in that they educate and entertain at the same time. Pet360, Petcentric and Petco uploaded videos in the time period analyzed with Pet360 uploading the most number of videos.

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Most of the videos explain a product and show usage. While all four brands operate on humor, each has its own signature tone. PetFlow focuses on product explanations with homemade-style videos, many of Petcentric’s videos star their standard parent-pet couple Will and Eko, PetSmart leverages how-to videos and employee stories to portray customer service and Pet360 has a mix of dog breed info, training tips and celebrities talking about their pets.

The average video from these brands is around two minutes long.

Petco had well rounded growth in the time period analyzed. They had the highest number of new views and also added the most new subscribers. This video brought in the most new views for Petco and for the sector in December.

http://youtu.be/CbaWHR2JHhs

Lessons Learned:

  • Discover a regular feature that is well received by your audience, but combine it with other off beat content.
  • Long form videos work just as good as short ones as long as they are relevant and in sync with your audience’s taste.

Pet supplies and pet care brands have proved to be on top of the game. Other brands, pet related or not, sure can learn a thing or two from these pet care brands. Call it the magic of the cat syndrome the Internet has bred or just real good strategy, these brands have some crazy engagement on social. That’s definitely something to be purr-oud of.

Methodology

All data has been compiled and analyzed from the Unmetric platform which tracks dozens of metrics to enable brands to benchmark themselves against competitors and their industry sector for the time period of December 15th, 2013 to January 15th, 2014.

 

Ranjani Raghupathi

Ranjani Raghupathi

Marketing Executive, Unmetric

A writer, a dreamer and a foodie all rolled in to one, Ranjani enjoys her not-so-secret affair with marketing and social media metrics. She plays cupid with words and marries them so they can live happily ever after as beautiful sentences. You can find her at any restaurant serving great food or at a book store sneaking a peak at the latest arrivals.

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