To recap: my target is to monetise my cats in a small way via Instagram within 365 days by strategic trial and error.
As per the original plan, I posted a pre-selected photo of my cat Benny on IG during the 7–9am EST window. After posting with sort of humorous caption and 6 hashtags, I sat back and observed the immediate engagement data.
Key finding: 4 likes in the first 2 minutes. Huh, that’s fast.
And then nothing until around 2 hours later. Ended up with around 6 likes by the time I was about to go to bed. Not great. As I was brushing my teeth, I wondered if it was a problem with the timing window, the picture or the caption. Too many variables to consider, so I tried to isolate each one and try to tackle them one at a time.
I first considered the picture. Well, I guess it didn’t bring out Benny’s cute side. That didn’t help. So perhaps I needed to focus more on the cute thing at first to build my baseload. Cute has a broader appeal than wit.
This means I’m going to need the big guns: Nala’s baby photos. Game on.
Alright, this is captured when I woke up this morning. So I got another 14 followers since the day before. Not too shabby. Beating my KPI of 10 new followers a day but oof, it has not been easy to start this out. How people do this for a living, I will never know.
So today’s Monday. Based on that little table I shared on Day 2, looks like I will need to post at 7pm today. I already know which picture to use. It’s going to be cute as heck.
Once I started putting into play my next step, I then realised I had another problem as I was scrolling through Nala’s dossier of photos.
My cats are indoor cats. I live in a pretty compact apartment. Content was going to look pretty same-ish and will get stale after a while unless I changed the cats or changed the house, neither scenario being particularly likely.
I encountered my first instance of content crisis. This is going to be tough. Is this what influencers deal with? How do they live like this, forever chasing the next content to post?
Quickly I looked to my go-to IG pet account for inspiration, one managed by a lady with three guinea pigs. This account has 108,000 followers. Yes, there are 108,000 people/accounts following the daily activities of three rodents. I cannot pass judgment because I’m one of them. What can I say, they’re cute.
Anyway, this lady, Becca, started out pretty innocuously documenting her adorable guinea pigs’ antics. Clearly the target market was people who loved guinea pigs/cute furries in general. What stood out about her content are two things:
- Her guinea pigs are especially adorable
- Her captions were hilarious
I looked my cats over. Ok, one was especially adorable, the other was adorably clueless. I could work with that. Captioning skills I will need to work on to flesh out their furry little pseudo-personas.
Then I scrolled through Becca’s posts and how her engagement style evolved as time went by, since I started following her in 2016.
She started with the usual photos and short videos, then began to do Live videos where she’d answer questions about her guinea pigs and about guinea pig care in general while she bribes them with vegetables to behave for the camera.
What also helped was that she was referred to by other popular guinea pig IG accounts. So there was a sort of virtuous cycle going on there, where these accounts mutually grew their follower numbers by virtue of these shout-outs. Again, it struck me how wired human beings are to move in a herd. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, because I myself am one of the herd. It’s nice to be one of the herd.
But the key thing here is, her guinea pigs are also house-bound pets. The pictures had the same-ish backgrounds and such, but she made it work by varying the types of activities she showed the guinea pigs doing and also switching up the captions.
It was only later on that she progressed to more interactive channel of engagement (Live Q&A) and in an unconscious way, began collaborations with others.
I pondered this for a few minutes.
You know what? This could work.
Crisis over. Action plan doesn’t change. For the next month I will just build on my number of posts to fill up more squares in IG to establish track record. Specifically, I plan to:
- Post once a day Mon-Fri, try for twice a day Sat-Sun, work on refining the captions
- Focus more on conventionally cute photos for the next 2 weeks
- Post at opportune time windows
- Allocate 15 minutes a day aggressively liking and commenting on others’ posts
- Document findings every other day, if I can make time
Nervously, I checked my overflowing work calendar. Let’s not forget I have a demanding full time job on top of all these shenanigans. This is gonna be a challenge to follow through in the coming weeks.
But hey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.