How one Dog Gained an Instagram Following

How do you grow your following on Instagram? We sat down with one of our very own Booster Advisors, Alexis Tonkel, to get her insights on promoting on Instagram, and how it can be used to your advantage.

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In June of 2013, Alexis realized how many adorable pictures she had acquired of her cute pup, Maggie. Instead of filling her own Instagram page with the photos, she created a separate profile for her pup. Today, @MaggieTheCairn has over 13,000 followers!

During her free time, Alexis loves to take Maggie all around Boston and will “take plenty of pictures of whatever adventure [they] go on over the weekend.” That way, she always has plenty of content to choose from!

“I try to post a new picture everyday at about the same time, so people can look forward to Maggie’s posts and know when to look for them! Life can get a bit hectic and sometimes I forget to take new photos, so I try to take extra when I can for whenever I need them.”

To drive more people to Maggie’s page, Alexis will often “tag different locations or reach out to different groups or brands” on Instagram. If she takes Maggie to a park, she’ll tag the location in the photo so that anyone who looks through pictures from that location will see Maggie’s account. At the pet store she’ll “direct message the photo of Maggie to the brand’s Instagram page with a little message like ‘Thanks so much for the treats and my awesome new toy, I love it already!’ Sending the photo straight to them ensures that they see the image and makes them much more likely to repost it on their account.”


Another great way to gain an Instagram following is by using hashtags! Since Alexis posts photos around a certain time everyday, she typically sees the same people liking her pictures at about the same time. “If I see a lot of likes coming in from accounts I don’t recognize, or a lot of new people follow me I know my hashtags are working.” She also likes to look at what hashtags similar accounts are using. “A lot of times I’ll see a hashtag I’ve never used before, and I’ll add it to the list of hashtags I include on every post!”

Alexis and Maggie have had amazing opportunities through the Instagram community. Not only have they been able to connect with other dog lovers from all over the world, but they’ve met some amazing dogs and their owners right here in Boston! 

“The most amazing part is seeing how many incredible people you can meet just by posting some cute puppy pictures on the internet! We love meeting new dog owners on Instagram that live right in the Boston area. Going to fun meetups and chatting with people you have so much in common with has turned into one of my favorite past times. There have also been so many incredible people around the world who I’ve gotten to know just by chatting with them in the comments of our photos and following their lives through their accounts!”


Alexis has had so much success with her Instagram account, that we asked her to share some advice with us! She recommends, “using as many hashtags as Instagram allows in every category that your account covers. It can also be really helpful to follow a lot of similar accounts, since those are the ones that are most likely to be interested in your posts. Even following their followers and commenting on their photos can be a great way to get noticed.”

If you plan to promote your Booster campaign on your account, “start with a catchy hook. Instagram will only show the first 2-3 lines of your caption, so make sure you engage your followers. Your image should be fun and related to the campaign in some way so that people will notice your post and support! It can also be super helpful to reach out to related accounts to ask for their help. I just started a campaign for Cairn Terrier Rescue, and have already sent them information about it so that they can help to promote and drive sales!”


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