Building a community and growing your pet business on Instagram with Helen Perry


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Is improving your Instagram on your to-do list? Then you will LOVE this episode with Helen Perry from the ‘Just Bloody Post It’ podcast.

Helen has grown a huge, engaged following on the platform and shows how small businesses can do the same on her own Instagram account, her podcast and online courses and workshops. 

In this chat, Helen shares loads of brilliant marketing advice that can be applied no matter what platform you’re on!

And as a former BBC Radio One journalist, she gives some bonus tips if you want to be on the radio too.

I hope you enjoy this episode and you can listen on the player link below or carry on reading the key points as a blog post.

Hi Helen, can you share a little bit about your background?

“I used to work for BBC Newsbeat, then I had a number of years out raising my kids.

“I really wanted to get back out and do some creative work, but couldn’t quite see how my previous role was going to work with the kids so I booked to do an Instagram course, which taught me how to use it as a marketing channel.

“First, I was a blogger, sharing about how I was decorating my kitchen and where I’d been on holiday.

“But my most engaged posts were all about what I knew about Instagram, so I realised that’s what people wanted.

“Doing the blog helped me understand what my audience wanted, and now that’s moved over to Instagram.

“All the time people are telling me what they want to know, what they enjoy or want to learn about, and that helps me build better products!

“Make sure you’re reading the comments on your posts and answering them because these little bits of intelligence can guide you to know how to help people better.”

For pet business owners, especially the service providers, that’s really good advice!

“Yes, if you suddenly start to get a lot of questions, respond and react quickly!

“Ask them to tell you about what they’re doing, and what their problems are, ask open-ended questions to find out more about what they want.

“Things like ‘have you done any online training’ ‘what are you doing with your puppy at the moment’ you can work out from that what they want to buy from you!”

With Instagram, people are at different stages, would you be able to give us a really simple overview of how Instagram works?

“Instagram allows you to share video, pictures, text, posts about whatever you want to talk about.

“It’s a great marketing platform for businesses as you can spark the interest of people who might buy your product or service.

“A place where people can first learn about you and get a sense of your values and what you do. It’s the beginning of the conversation with your customer – sparking their interest.

“It’s all about building your relationships with customers, not necessarily sales, but taking those people to your email list will mean you can sell to them.”

The relationship and community are first and foremost, aren’t they?

“If you can truly get on it and start sharing the stuff you love and you’re passionate about, like sharing dog tips, information, things you’ve learnt as a pet owner, and chat to others about what they’ve learned, as a result, your DM’s will start filling with your favourite types of customers.

“It’s all about putting signs of life in there, and being a real human, and it will be so much more enjoyable for you to be there too. Ask things like ‘have you had a nice time at Crufts?’”

How could a pet business start if they were feeling shy?

“So, let’s say you’re a dog trainer, you could get a tripod, put the phone 20 metres away in a field and film yourself at work. 

“You don’t have to be talking to the camera, you can just do some natural footage of what you do.

“Use that on your Instagram stories with some music over the top of it. It’s no big deal. People don’t care what you look like, people care about whether you can help them!

“You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, find your comfort zone.”

What about hashtags and finding people who are interested in you?

“When you work in the pet industry, you have a great thing going for you as you know your specific audience and which pet owner you want to find.

“Make your account discoverable to those people. Take 40 minutes and look for hashtags that people are searching in the community you’re marketing to, look at what’s being shared and the hashtags and note them down to use them.

“In pet communities, you’ll have strong tribes of people who adore your content. I would also use key searchable words in your Instagram captions and Instagram bios.

“Make it really clear in your bio what you offer and how to get in touch with you or buy your product.

“Then just post regularly! Be consistent over time. When you post your following will grow.”

And Instagram has tools where you can see what’s working?

“I don’t get too tied up looking at analytics but you can see them on Insights, it will tell you the reach of each post in the button underneath it so you can see how many likes and saves.

“Looking at these signs can tell you that you’re on the right path.”

What about showing pets on Instagram?

“Instagram is perfect for pets! Show off their personality and use videos – people are more engaged in moving footage.

“Think about who you like to follow, the interesting accounts, the funny accounts, the most valuable accounts and be inspired by them.

“You don’t always have to be teaching people all the time, it can be really small things like what food is working well for your pet at the moment.

“If you’re interested in something, other people will be too!”

Finally, any tips from your Radio One days about what to do if you get on the radio?

“When you pitch yourself, think about the specific outlet you’re trying to target.

“It’s more time consuming than a blanket press release but people need to know you’re a local person, a local business, they need to know what you’re doing and why they need to be interested.

“With radio, it’s really important to know you’re going to have good quality audio, offer to come close to them or to the studio, or if you can get on a high-quality line – make the whole thing as easy for the journalist as possible.”

Find out more about Helen

Visit her website:

Follow Helen on Instagram:

Listen to her podcast: The-just-bloody-post-it-podcast

And if you want some pet businesses to inspire you on Instagram, go and check these ones out.

Dog training – Karen Maher –

Products – Kerry Whitney –

Cat grooming – Katie Gwilt – the Kat Lady –

Products – Michelle Burgess –

Photographer Liz Gregg  –

If you enjoyed this post, you might like Vicky Gunn on working with influencers and Mrs HinchHow to use tricks to take awesome pics with Liz Gregg from Black, White, Gold or How to walk in your clients’ shoes on social media with Helen Motteram.


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