February 23, 2015

In continuing with my new series on Instagram case studies, I want to introduce you to PetBox today. This company uses Instagram so well to reach their customers and grow their business. They're also really good with Instagram contests.

As always, time for a disclaimer... I am in no way affiliated with PetBox. I do not purchase their products (mostly because my dog is an exception to every rule and has the strictest of diets). I have not reached out to PetBox for any insight into how they use Instagram - this post is based entirely on my interpretations of what I see on their profile.

Now, that being said, I did actually hear from PetBox at Social Media San Diego last year. Which was how I first found out about them. And they raved about the power of Instagram and what it has done for their business. They also said that Instagram was their favorite and most results-driven social media site. So, yeah, of course, I was keen on learning more about how they use the platform!

So let's take a look at what Petbox is doing on Instagram.

Good Bio

You know how much I love a well-crafted bio on Instagram! And PetBox does a really good job with theirs.

First of all, it's fun and characteristic of their brand. It's not too much, nor too little. It's quirky and shows personality.

AND, they make really good use of their URL in the bio to drive traffic where they want it to go. At the time of writing this, they are directing people to a Valentine's related page (It is February).

They also encourage their fans to tag their pet photos with the #petbox hashtag for a chance to be featured. I'll get to how well they use this user generated content (UGC) in a bit.

Active Posting

PetBox posts a lot. A lot more than some businesses might, but not too much for their audience. They've found what works for them and their followers - this is key!

But yes, some days they post 3 or 4 images. But, it's important to point out that each image plays a role in their strategy, is relevant to the audience, and continue to generate big engagement. So, for them it works!

Let's face it, their audience loves their pets. If you're going to spend money every month on a gift box for your pet, chances are you consider them family. And, more than likely, you love to look at other cute animals, being the animal lover that you are. PetBox knows this and that's why their feed is all cute, adorable, endearing, funny, goofy, and silly pet photos. It's what their audience wants. And it's what generates engagement.

Knowing this about your audience is key! If PetBox was posting irrelevant content, they wouldn't generate the same post engagement and interest. That being said, I would like to see them post more with the monthly box contents and behind-the-scenes type posts.

Timely Posts

PetBox keeps their posts relevant to current events and trends to keep their content fresh and engaging. Whether it's a seasonal post (Valentine's Day or Love Your Pet Day), or a throwback Thursday post, or making fun of celebrities or trending stories, they keep their audience smiling.



PetBox incorporates a lot of trending hashtags - and they tie them all to their business strategy. They use hashtags like #WetNoseWednesday, #TongueOutTuesday, #Selfie, and other fun hashtags - all images of pets that people love to look at.

That being said, most of the hashtags they use are directly related to their business, strategy, or specific post trend. They do not post more hashtags (in the caption or subsequent comments) and they often don't include any hashtags at all. Now, with over 100,000 followers, they have a strong following and don't likely need to rely on industry hashtags to reach new audiences. For most smaller accounts though, you would want to consider using more (5-10) industry hashtags on your posts to increase your reach.


Over the Christmas season, they ran a promotion to score 3 months of free PetBox products with the purchase of their annual plan.



They advertised this promotion DAILY with fun photos of pets (many UGC based) and CLEAR calls-to-action (CTA) in the caption to click on the link in their bio to sign up.

You know how much I love a good CTA in a caption! And this is how you do it! The message is clear. The CTA is clear. And the link in the bio took visitors directly to the sign up page - no wasting time. Getting direct results!

If you're going to run a promotion or a sale or a campaign, keep this same practice in mind. The clearer, the easier, the more direct - the better.


Along with their product promotions, PetBox does really well hosting contests on their Instagram account. They haven't run one in a few months but they generate a lot of engagement and I'm assuming good results for the PetBox company and their sponsors.



As you can see, they always use a relevant image. Then they add the text overlay which very clearly states that it is a contest. You don't want people to scroll past and miss the opportunity to participate!

Then, in easy to understand, clear to follow instructions in the caption are the steps required to participate in the contest. The individual steps are numbered and stand out so you can't miss them.

A side note on this... if you have a page on your website that lists contest terms and conditions and legal statements, include that link in the post caption (it's not clickable, but they can copy and paste if they need to). These disclosure/legal statements help protect you during contests and may be required by state law.

One of things I've noticed on the PetBox account is that they don't often respond to most comments. But then again, a lot of their comments aren't always direct questions or comments that a large company can respond to. But, on their contest posts and promotion posts, they do take the time to respond to direct questions related to the contest or promotion, showing that they are following the comments and listening to their audience. But, I would still like to see them respond to more comments on their normal posts to keep the conversation going with their audience.

User Generated Content

If you scroll through the PetBox account, you'll notice that a LOT of their content is actually from their customers and submitted to them by their audience. They always give attribution (and even @ mention the original content creator) in all of these posts. This account really is a model for successful use of UGC on Instagram.

And the great thing about UGC is that all the work is done for you! In this case, their customers are sending them completely relevant content that they can share with the rest of their audience. They don't need to spend money, time, and planning resources to create fresh content to post 3-4 times a day. They just take a few pictures submitted from their audience and share it with the community.

Doing this also rewards the customers as they get to see their pets on display. They love it! Many of the people who have submitted photos which get selected then go and tell everyone on all their other social media sites that their pet is featured on the PetBox Instagram account... guess what that does for PetBox? Yup. More eyes, more followers, more potential clients!

That's the win-win nature of UGC!

Doing Good Too

I don't know how often they do this, but I noticed this recent post, and I hope that they will do more of these posts.



I always applaud a company who can use their platform to do good for others. Taking the time to showcase lovable pets who need forever homes and helping spread the word of shelters and organizations doing these things is good for everyone!

If you have a way to incorporate charity or support for local organizations as part of your business mission, take the time to incorporate that into your social media efforts too!


And that all pretty much sums up the type of account that PetBox is. Overall, I think they do a really good job marketing and targeting their audience and customers. They use Instagram well and successfully and I am sure that they see the corresponding business results too.

I hope that you can look at some of the things they are doing and find ways to incorporate similar practices and tips into your Instagram strategy!

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