A recent version of Iota’s profile picture – shown actual size 540 x 180px

So, you’ve got a cute/amazing/talented/popular animal and you want to set up a Facebook presence for him/her. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your experience!

  1. Set him up as a proper Facebook Page.
  2. Use the full pixel real estate for your Page’s profile picture!
  3. Develop a distinct Personality (Horsenality, Doggenality, Cattenality, etc) for him.
  4. Create a way of talking that helps define that ‘horsenality’.
  5. Define what makes connecting with this animal an important experience to people’s Facebook day.
  6. Define a Mission, the raison d’être — reason to be present — for your animal’s Facebook presence.
  7. Be prepared to create related content for your animal, videos, photos, posts, comments, etc.
  8. Be ready to interact regularly with your animal’s Page to maintain momentum in his/her popularity.
  9. Be prepared to find and share related content that fits in with your animal’s Mission.
  10. Don’t post too many asks, requests, downers or bad news – no matter what you decide your pet’s Mission is.

Now let’s look at each topic a little more in depth.

1. Proper Facebook Page

When you signed up with Facebook you were given a screen chock full of a whole lot of rules and regulations. You agreed to these. Among them was you said you would only set up a Facebook Profile for a real human being. Your animal does not qualify to be a Profile. If you break this rule and get caught – Facebook admins will simply remove that profile with no warning. All his friend connections and content will be lost forever. You are allowed to set up a Page for your animal though. I would recommend doing that.  Proceed with setting up a Profile at your own risk. I’ve written an entire post that goes into this topic in more depth.

2. 180 x 540 Facebook Profile Pic Dimensions

Use the entire amount! Add information that links to your pet’s causes or blog or affiliates if he has some. Be mindful that you will choose a square portion of this image to be your Page’s thumbnail throughout Facebook. If you’re using your animal’s Page for professional or semi-professional purposes you should consider hiring a professional designer to create one for you.

3. Develop a distinct Personality

This is the fun part. This is where you figure out what your pet is like and how he or she is going to be presented in mostly written form (status updates, comments, etc). If you’re a Parelli Natural Horsemanship follower then you’ve already been exposed to their definition of the 4 main equine personality archetypes or “horsenalities”. For horses this is an excellent place to start figuring what they’re like in human terms.

4. Create a way of talking

Petey Pants

Literally how does your animal sound in human language? I’ll bet you’ve seen the “I can has cheezburger” cat images, yes? Wow – has this ever taken off! All from inventing a funny way of ‘talking’ overlaid on nutty cat photos. Another favorite of mine is Petey Pants, a mini horse on Facebook. Here’s a sample of how he ‘talks’:

Good mornin! Today I gotsta hang out in the riding ring wif Ellie becuz the fence isn’t wurking again…so maybe we’ll practice our jumpingness or our racehorseyness well we’re in there!

5. Why should people pay attention to your animal?

What does interacting with him bring to their personal Facebook experience?

  • Humor?
  • Joy?
  • Information?
  • Prestige?
  • All of these?
  • Reassurance?
  • Something else?

Be clear in your defining what your pet brings to the table. Pay attention to how people start interacting with him and go with it if it goes along with your Mission.

 6. Define a Mission

It’s dumb and weird and Iota thinks it’s funny!

For my mini, Iota McHippus, I have set out several clear and distinct Missions for his Page.

  • To entertain and amuse people
  • to represent himself as a therapy horse
  • and to establish the concept that horses really do think, have feelings and ‘horsenalities’.
  • to help spread some awareness about equine advocacy and good projects in equine rescue
  • Gives me a chance to say all those things I can’t say! I should also admit that I have a personal addiction to snarky 12 year olf boy interests and behaviors and things like the Annoying Orange actually do make me laugh.

I would like to say that’s the real order of importance of why I started Iota’s Page – but the reality is the last item on the list is probably the number one reason, lol.

7. Be Prepared to Create Some Quality Engaging Content

From his post: “how could something so delish be called an Ugg?”

Videos, photos, notes, stories, updates and comments should make a steady appearance down your animal’s wall. This is how your pet’s “fans” will come to know him and find reasons to interact with him personally. I have a friend with a very naughty dog who was driving her absolutely nuts. To help blow off some steam from all his shenanigans she set him up with his own Facebook page and now posts pictures of all the items he destroys in a week. He’s The Piebald Pilferer.

For Iota I keep a steady stream of:

  • annotated links
  • contest links
  • drawings
  • embedded + annotated videos
  • witty quotes (some we steal, some we create)
  • questions
  • snarky comments (some we steal, some we create)
  • and other entertaining flotsam

floating down his wall throughout the week.

8. Interact Regularly

No rest for the wicked….

I will confess to you now, it can sometimes be a grind. Iota’s fans will start up early on a holiday or a Sunday morning wondering if the little stinker is ok? Or what he had for dinner the night before, or where is he!!?? Unless I prepare them ahead of time for his absence – his fans pretty much expect him to make an appearance every. Single. Day.

Which is why I had to post on his page on Christmas day from a sailboat docked along the Florida coast.

NOTE: notice that I was supremely lucky enough to have found a tiny ‘stand in’ version of io that his fans have accepted as Him in posts from time to time.

9. Share Related Content

Take time to have your animal’s Page “like” others’ Pages:

  • Other Animals
  • Causes
  • Associations
  • Websites
  • Entertainers, etc.

Beaseley The Wonder Horse or as io calls him: Geezly.

Then your Page can interact with their Pages! You can post related linkbacks to your page (not too much and not too often – or they and Facebook admin-robots will think you’re a spammer and shut you down!)

Visit your animal’s Page newsfeed and comment on items of interest to his cause, Mission, and interests. Iota has a horse friend named Beaseley the Wonder Horse who visits the Facebook Page of the equestrian magazine Practical Horseman and makes hilarious comments on their current questions and posts from his own unique point of view. He does this to demonstrate to their fans how funny he is – and thus garners new “likes” from such efforts. ANd that matters because his human runs a bumper sticker business and some of Beaseley’s quotes get used on them! See? It’s a truly connected network with some commercial aspects that get presented with a personalized and entertaining twist!

10. Don’t Post Too Many “Asks” or Too Many Downer Anythings

The Magic of Cute: 89 “likes” 15 shares in 24 hours

Don’t badger your pet’s fans! Even if it’s for a good cause. Even if it’s for a Very Good Cause. People will shut you out. Almost without fail – when Iota posts about something particularly snarky or particularly cute he will gather the most “likes” and comments. When he posts something sad or negative – the comments and “likes” go way down. That tells me all I need to know about what he needs to post the most.

I could say a lot more about mine and Iota’s experiences with his Page but that should get you started with yours. Iota has an amazing array of some of the most motivated and fun fans ever. He’s not swimming in them – it takes time to build a fan base. But his fans are so connected to him and to each other! Last summer two fans from each end of the country made a pilgrimage to come and meet him in ‘horsen’ here at the farm all based on our interactions online. One from Washington state and the other from Massachusetts. I am not kidding.

We are leveraging his connective power carefully with some equine advocacy projects as this whole experience unfolds for us.

Read more on his blog! LittleHorseBIGtrip.com

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