What your Instagram #TopNine can teach you

I’m lucky in that the purpose of Tinkerbelle’s social media presence is to entertain above all else. Without the pressure of sales and engagement targets I have been free to experiment without constraint, and post the content that feels right. It has been a really organic process right from the start, with what my followers want being at the center of what I do. But if this isn’t true for a brand you’re managing, there are ways to work out who your audience is and what they want- and the Instagram #TopNine is a great place to start.

Take Tinkerbelle’s #TopNine2019 for example. At one glance I can see what my audience likes:

  1. Briggle dog
  2. Throwback posts
  3. Snoot closeups
  4. Milestones
  5. Humour

Of course it’s never quite as simple as that. The context of these posts is also important.

Briggle dog

Last year we had a major health scare with Briggle. There were several months of frequent vet visits, new medications, and Briggle being generally unwell. Even if I had wanted to ‘hide’ what was going on with him, I couldn’t as he lost quite a lot of weight really suddenly. But I’m always pretty honest about what’s going on in our lives, so I was never going to try and pretend things were fine.

I think there are a few different things going on here. First of all, the account originated when we adopted Tinkerbelle, who was paralysed in her hind legs. We spent the first few years taking her to hydrotherapy, acupuncture, doing physio exercises and uploading her progress to her social media. So I know that my audience love stories about the underdog overcoming obstacles.

I also know that in three of the instances he shows up in the #TopNine he is accompanied by Tinks and Alfie, so I know that it could be more accurate to say that my audience love photos of all three of my kids together.

And finally, I have a larger collection of hashtags that accompany Briggle posts than I do for Tink or Alfie, including #Pibble, #PitbullSmile and #EndBSL (breed specific legislation). It’s likely that more people find a Briggle post in their ‘discover’ feed than they would one of Tinks or Alfie, so those posts may be picking up more engagement from people who don’t actually follow us. So now I know that hashtags are important to drive new followers to my content.

Throwback posts/Snoot closeups/Milestones

Everyone loves #PUPPYSPAM and puppy dog eyes. We get a hit of dopamine when we see cute things so it’s no surprise that these posts are popular. But it’s the story that I tell with these posts that makes them effective. You can’t just post cute photos of animals if they have nothing to do with your brand, and expect to engage the right people.

In this instance we have a throwback to Tinkerbelle’s first time at the beach, a throwback to the ‘ultrasound’ we had when we announced we were adopting another dog, and pictures of the kids with my new ring on their nose. So I know that my audience likes content they can relate to.


Tinkerbelle is the sassiest dog I have ever met. She has opinions, and she’s not afraid to share them. She’s also a fiend around food. Because her account is in her voice, I’ve tried to keep it true to her personality. So we have a photo of Tinks yelling about the #heckinbath, a video of #TinkerbelleTriesThingsTuesday (a tradition that came about because she will eat anything), and our take on this meme.

So I know that my audience like to be entertained, and that something funny is a great way to brighten up their days.

What does it all mean?

Because I run this account just for fun, the only thing I use this knowledge for is to give my followers more of what they like. But if you’re running a business or brand, it might help you identify both what is working for you and what is not. Can you tell what your audience likes, or is it quite random? And perhaps most useful of all, what kind of posts are missing?

While the #TopNine is most popular at the end of the year, you can still check it against your current insights by clicking the three line menu in the top right corner and choosing ‘Insights’.

Let me know how you get on!

Ngā mihi,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: