Careers

Own the next Doug the Pug? 4 steps to make your pet famous

Leslie Mosier's goofy little dog Doug is more famous than most people, but that's not by luck. Doug the Pug has 4 million likes on Facebook, 4.5 million views on YouTube and 1.6 million followers on Instagram, largely because of an owner with a knack for marketing, design and social media strategy.

If you've ever wanted to make your pet famous, follow in the steps of famous animal entrepreneurs. Here are some of their best tips:

Doug the Pug and Leslie Mosier, founder and proud owner.
Source: Rob Chianelli
Doug the Pug and Leslie Mosier, founder and proud owner.

Find what's unique about your pet

When Mosier brought Doug the Pug home, she noticed that he in many ways acted like a diva. He peed in the car on the way home, for one thing, constantly made adorable facial expressions and loved watching "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

"He was so much in a sense meant for this. He is really a star," she said.

Finding what's unique about your pet is the biggest and most important step when starting out, author, speaker and social media strategist Peg Fitzpatrick said.

"Find a theme. What's your thing that defines your pet? Is it the kind of dog? Is it a size thing, a tiny dog that you're going to make look bigger or smaller? Is your cat grumpy?" Fitzpatrick said.

A prime example of this is Mr. Bagel, a chinchilla with 109,000 Instagram followers. It all started when Steve Byun started posting pictures of Mr. Bagel, his adopted pet. Without even knowing it, he became a go-to person for questions on adopting and caring for chinchillas. Unlike the thousands of cute dogs and cats out there, Mr. Bagel has less competition.

"He's the most popular chinchilla on social media," Byun said.

Be ready for your launch

After quitting her job in marketing to start her own freelance design firm, Mosier realized that Doug could be more than just a star among her friends who loved seeing pictures of him. She ditched the design firm idea and focused on building out Doug's social media brand as her full-time job.

She spent several months designing her dog's brand and taking photos without getting any big breaks.

"It felt pointless because I had all of this stuff that looked amazing, and it wasn't getting the kind of attention I knew it could," she said.

But that changed thanks to a handful of adorable posts that caught the attention of media outlets in 2014. What set her apart from other cute pictures? Doug's social media accounts were ready.

"When people went to see more, they saw that [the brand] was concrete. It was there. People trusted it," she said. "Build a frame before you put a photo inside."

Having a bank of photos ready to draw on will help you keep momentum going.

"If you're going to start an account, have a bunch of photos ready to go before you start posting. That way when you start, you don't have to panic. You have more to share over time," Fitzpatrick said.

Post consistently

Both Doug the Pug and Mr. Bagel are consistent in posting good photos on social media — something that's key to making it big.

"If I was the target audience, I think to myself, what would I want to see? I don't want to spam them," Byun said. "As long as you believe in the message of what you're doing, consistency comes easy."

Make sure the posts look good too.

"If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, you can get really great pictures. So there's no excuse for a bad photo on Instagram," Fitzpatrick said. "If it is blurry or out of focus, retake it."

Keep marketing

While Doug lives the glamorous life, regularly rubbing elbows with celebrities such as Ed Sheeran and Dolly Parton, Mosier is tireless in promoting Doug behind the scenes.

"Never stop the grass-roots marketing," Mosier said. "It's so much more effective than paying for an ad, it's something that's personal, and people remember it."

Mosier even has business cards for Doug.

"We would have people come up to us on the street. And I had a pitch ready on why they should follow him. I'd give them a business card with an email and everything on it."

The future looks bright for both of these four-legged creatures. Byun is working on developing merchandise for Mr. Bagel while Mosier said she'd love for Doug the Pug to get more involved in acting.