By David King, Publisher Diablo Gazette
Meet Ruby, a Doberman, smart and mellow, just like her Grand Champion parents. Two years ago, when Concord’s Alaina Lindsey, then 13, started posting pictures of her new 8-week old purebred puppy on her Instagram account, her friends would “like” it. She boasted to her dad, Charles, “I bet I can get more Ruby followers than you.”
Charles accepted the challenge even though he didn’t really use Instagram… but he is a gifted photographer and partner of CSK Photography.
“I would see these accounts with 3,000 followers, and think ‘who would follow dogs?’” Charles said. When mom, Margaret Lindsey, learned of the bet, she teased them both that she would never consider her “insta-famous” until Ruby gets posted on Snoop Dogg’s page.
Alaina and Charles started posting Ruby pictures on their respective Instagram accounts, Alaina on @RubyLindsey, and Charles under his photography company’s @Lindseycrew account.
It was slow at first. Charles realized that since they were really following Ruby and not him, he changed the account name to @Rubydooby_Do and began to work the magic of social media.
“There are a lot of hashtag things that you gotta put in your post, such as #doberman, so those people can see who you are,” Charles stated. “There are some big accounts that feature Dobermans such as @DobermanPride and @DobieLove that have a hundred thousand or more followers each. Once Ruby was getting featured on those accounts, Ruby’s follower count would jump.
“When we started, I thought, wow, Ruby has 100 followers. Then someone would feature her and it would suddenly bump to 250 followers, then 1000.”
Charles would post a new photo of Ruby about once per day. “I was training her so I would take shots of her during training which got her use to the camera,” Charles said. “Once I started posting those photos, I started getting featured on the big Doberman Instagram accounts.”
By the end of the first year, Ruby had well over 5,000 followers. Ruby had become very comfortable around the camera – almost Diva comfortable.
“One morning, I was taking a photo of Ruby sitting in the doorway and told her ‘don’t move’,” Charles explained. “Ruby struck this pose. She throws her neck back giving her this huge neck and then squinted her eyes, and she looks like this huge beast. She held that pose until she sees me take the camera away from my face.” That was the money shot.
Within a week, it went viral. “Everyone was copying it and placing it everywhere, in memes, on Amazon.com, or on their own Facebook page. It picked up 30,000 “likes” on Instagram and another 10,000 followers. “
Ruby’s photo then showed up on even larger Instagram sites that featured wild animals, lions, etc., that have millions of followers, picking up another 1000 or so followers with each appearance.
Ruby had developed true fans. One lady had used Ruby’s photo on her Doberman Facebook page and claimed that Ruby was her dog. Another had Ruby tattooed on her thigh. Several artists would draw her and send to the Lindseys. One sent the family a watercolor of Ruby.
Marketers also took notice. Crazy Rebel made Ruby an exclusive model for their hand-crafted collars. Chewy.com has made similar product-for-image offers.
“A follower messaged me that he saw Ruby on Amazon.com with someone selling Ruby images on T-shirts. That was irritating because that’s illegal. It is clear commercial copyright infringement,” Charles warned.
Ruby has been seen on Los Angeles rap producer, DJ Khaled’s account. But on November 13, Margaret’s prophetic goal was realized. Snoop Dogg had posted Ruby’s picture on his account!
“That took it from 20,000 to almost 30,000 followers instantly,” Charlie said. “That makes her the third most followed Doberman in the country.”
Today Ruby has more than 49,000 followers, a bonafide celebrity had been made.
I’m still waiting for the day when someone actually recognizes her on the street. She has distinctive markings. She has a cowlick on her nose. She’s very distinct.”
It’s a great lesson in social marketing. By the way, Charles won the bet, as Alaina closed her Ruby account with around 30 followers. Bam!