Camping With Cats: Building a Brand from Scratch

Get it? From scratch?

#cathaiku Am sad. Very sad. The clear liquid touched my tail. It is wet now. *sigh* #campingwithcats @jessie.and.koda

A photo posted by Camping With Cats (@campingwithcats) on

The idea for Camping With Cats spurred one afternoon when we were talking about Camping with Dogs. “What if we built a brand called Camping With Cats?” we joked. But very quickly we realized the potential of this brand. After doing some research, we found that people actually camp with their cats. We were all shocked.

The Instagram account was created that very day, and the goal was set: 5,000 followers in 3 months. If Camping With Dogs can explode, why can’t Camping With Cats? At that moment we had no idea just how quickly this would become a thing. And not only did we surpass our goal of 5,000 followers, but we did it in less than 30 days. Currently, we’re over 19,000 and it’s been less than two months.

How, you ask? Well, there are 10 things to keep in mind when building a brand on Instagram.

1. Understand Your Audience

First and foremost, figure out whose attention you’re trying to capture. What kind of person will you target? If your brand is about homemade kitchen tools, you’re going to want to find the crafty, recipe-searching, wanna-be Top Chefs of Instagram. In Camping With Cat’s case, we had to make sure we understood its soon-to-be-fans and their adventurous, cat-loving nature.

2. Research

Spend some time researching anything related to your brand. Find out who your competitors are and make sure you aren’t stepping on their toes. Copying someone’s brand post for post just isn’t cool. Further, use that fresh knowledge about your audience to discover keywords that directly relate to your audience and brand. For instance, Camping With Cats fans like cats (obviously), camping, outdoors, and adventure. Using these keywords, develop 10-30 hashtags that you can post as a comment on your post. This way, people can find your brand when they search one of those keywords and you can see how your posts are doing in comparison to other accounts using the same keywords.

3. Brand Clarity

Starting out, your brand narrative needs to be evident. Consistency in your story is vital to attracting and maintaining a solid following. Avoid any kind of confusion about what you’re trying to accomplish through your account. What’s your theme? Your voice? Figure it out and stick to it. Camping With Cats captures the quintessence of angsty cats who like to camp. And we stick to that everyday.

4. Secure Brand Name

Even if your focus is Instagram, make sure you secure your brand name on Facebook and Twitter as well. Post to these platforms every time you post to Instagram. This not only creates consistency, but drives traffic to your Instagram account.

5. Consistency

To keep your followers loyal, you need to continue to give them what they’re craving. Figure out what posting time is best for your target audience and strictly adhere to it everyday. Also, create a brand hashtag. Use this as the only hashtag in every post so as to both strengthen your brand name and search for people who are using it.

6. Post Quality

While Instagram is chock-full of terrible quality photos, you’re going to want to stand out. Only post photos that are vibrant, clear, and attractive. When people are searching through hashtags, you’ll want your photo to be thumb-stopping.

7. Caption

Your captions need to relate to your brand narrative. But more importantly, they need to be catchy and unique. Every Camping With Cats caption is a haiku. Yes, it’s a little off the wall, but off the wall is exactly what you need to develop a powerful brand. Besides, the people behind a famous name are never totally “normal.” (Think: Michael Cera or Zooey Deschanel)

8. Engage with Non-Fans

Us social media marketers refer to this as “community management,” but really, it’s cyber-stalking. We endlessly searched for cat photos and liked/commented on them. This was fun, of course, because who doesn’t like cat photos? Engage with people who you think will like your brand. Start conversations and use your charm to get more fans.

9. Engage with all Related Hashtags

Enter: more cyber-stalking. Those 30 hashtags you’re using in the comment of your post? Stalk those furiously and like, comment, and follow people who use them. The more frequently you do this, the more your name is on someone’s feed and the more followers you’re going to get. Compliment these people on their awesome photos until your thumbs hurt.

10. Feature Members of your Audience

If you’re building a brand that relies heavily on other’s photos, find the members of your audience that post great content and use it. But always be respectful of the photographer and tag him/her in your caption.

Now, go build a brand!

Hopefully this provided you with both advice and the drive to create your own brand. Questions and comments are always welcome! And of course, check out Camping With Cats. 🙂