Fake it ‘Til You Make it (Or Don’t) Part 3: The Illusion of Influence
By Gemma JoyceAug 16th
Published March 23rd 2018
I love dogs. How can you not love a being that is consistently happy despite eating the same meal every single day? A creature that devotes their whole life to you, even when your strongest scent is ‘last night’s party’? My favourite thing about dogs is that even if you’re not a dog lover, they will still love you. Forever.
So what breed is the internet’s favorite dog? This is one of life’s most important questions and I can’t wait to answer it.
We had a look at the UK’s most registered breeds, using the latest statistics from The Kennel Club.
We have the obvious favourites that have been on the list for years – the Labradors, the German Shepherds. Meanwhile the newest contenders tend to be much smaller dogs, with French Bulldogs, Miniature Schnauzers, and Miniature Dachshunds rising into the top 10 for the first time in recent years.
We took that list and searched for the breeds globally (in English) in public social media posts to see which was the internet’s favorite, as well as looking at wider trends in the doggo-related conversation.
Here are a few notes on the methodology, for anyone keen on sniffing out the details.
As both Springer and Cocker Spaniels are in the list, we added them together to search for ‘Spaniels’ collectively. We found that people aren’t very specific between these two online, making it hard to differentiate. So, by default, we added #11 (Miniature Dachshunds) into the mix.
Something I didn’t expect to see was the lack of conversation surrounding Miniature Dachshunds despite the recent rise in popularity. I noticed that a lot of people don’t use their formal name, with mentions often having dropped the ‘miniature’ or going straight for ‘sausage’ and ‘weiner’ dog.
Also, on data sources, when I had a look at the top sites for where the data is being shared, Instagram took up 92% of the conversation. I mean, how else are you supposed to tell the world how cute your #pupper is without a photographic evidence?
French Bulldogs take the lead as the most talked about dog in public social media posts despite not being the top of the Kennel Club chart.
They are unsurprisingly closely followed by Labradors (a.k.a the UK’s favourite), with the least talked about breed we searched for being Border Terriers despite them being a top 10 registered breed for years on end.
As a pug owner, I was secretly disappointed to see that they weren’t the top of every single chart. I told my dog, Gary, about the results. He wasn’t too impressed either…
So with this information, I wanted to dig a little deeper.
I created a rule, applied it to my project and searched for mentions using the terms ‘I want to buy…’, ‘I want to get a…’ or ‘Someone buy me a…’ and this is where the aim of my project changed entirely.
Hardly anyone wanted to buy a dog. Surely that’s not correct – everyone wants a dog, don’t they?
And then the penny dropped.
I changed my rule to search for all mentions surrounding people wanting to adopt or rescue a dog, looking for the commonly used hashtags #adoptdontshop and so on. The results that came back gave me faith in humanity.
Almost 100% of the conversation was from those wanting to adopt a dog rather than buy one.
Being a self-confessed Crazy Dog Lady, I wish I could adopt every single dog that needs a home, and believe me, if my wife let me I would be a stay at home dog-mom and just run through fields with my loyal companions all day, every day.
Unfortunately that’s not going to happen any time soon. So, what can I do with this data? How can we try to help get these dogs that need a home to the thousands of people that want them?
I decided to compare the adoption data I found with that surrounding Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, a famous rescue centre in the UK with a strong social presence, highly engaged celebrity influencers and even a TV programme.
I found an insight that could potentially change a pooch’s life forever.
BDCH’s most common topics are different to those of the ‘adoption’ mentions that we found earlier. They have a lot less hashtags in the most common words surrounding their brand compared to the adoption mentions, which I found strange seeing as Instagram is the most common place for us to share/stare at pictures of our beautiful furry friends. When I looked further, I found that BDCH are in fact using hashtags, just not always the hashtags that the online dog-loving community are using.
While #adoptdontshop is huge in the dog community on Twitter, we couldn’t find it making much impact in the Battersea conversation. On Instagram, plenty of people were using #adoptdontshop in relation to Battersea (talking about their own dogs who had been adopted from there) but we couldn’t find much from Battersea itself related to the hashtag.
Analyzing public, online conversations surrounding seeking adoption could be used to their advantage when it comes to re-homing dogs. A simple change of hashtags and wording might help them reach an even larger audience of those that are out there looking for a new best friend. It’s definitely worth a try.
If all else fails, BDCH are welcome to send any lonely dogs to us here at Brandwatch. I think Gary would love 500 brothers and sisters ?
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