Losing To A Dog – a Lesson in Influencer Marketing

Chris log post 1

It’s a lazy Saturday and I’m scrolling through my News Feed, past the people #FeelingTheBern and the latest Pinterest (fail) recipe, when I see a sponsored post that actually catches my eye.

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine is running their annual dog photo contest. The terms are simple – upload a photo of your dog or dogs and get people to vote on that image once a day for the month of April. The one with the most votes comes out on top and wins a Ruffwear prize pack full of stuff that will help someone take their furry friends on the next back country adventure.

So I think to myself, “I have dogs (seen above). They’re adorable (that’s a fact, not an opinion). I have friends (Facebook tells me so). And, above all else, I come from a highly competitive family, the patriarch of which is retired with nothing to do but tend to his garden all day. I CAN DO THIS!”

Operation #BeatBobo

When I clicked on the link, Dublin and Finnegan were already four pages of uploaded dogs behind. Most notably, They were already almost 300 votes behind a lovable pup named Bobo. I knew what I had to do. Dubs and Finn needed to beat Bobo.

I put my social media feeds on blast, featuring the cleverly devised hashtag #BeatBobo. Everyone knew the plan, and I had a core group of people committed to voting everyday, or at the very least responsive enough for me to bother them at least once daily.

As I mentioned before, I come from a highly competitive family. My dad, the retired one with the garden, set up a page and gave a morning update on how Operation #BeatBobo was going. We were gaining ground, but not making a significant enough difference, so we resorted to guerrilla tactics.

The contest itself was setup thinking that people would vote once a day, and that Captcha would deter anyone trying to vote more than that from a single IP. We found the obvious loophole that Chrome’s Incognito Mode, as long as you’re closing your browser window after each time, doesn’t track the IP and therefore allows multiple votes as long as you’re willing to put in the time.

With nothing but a lazy Sunday, and a Jordan Speith collapse at the Masters to watch, I set out to vote my day away. My sister-in-law, a stay at home mom, was doing the same from Grand Rapids. By the end of the day, we’d done it. We had passed Bobo to take over the lead, and were on easy street. Or so we thought…

The Power of Influence

Monday afternoon, after being around 850 votes in the morning, Bobo had climbed to 1235. Within 15 minutes, he had rocketed past 1300. How? How is this possible! Dubs and Finn are adorable!

I’m in a meeting when I get a gchat on my phone:


“Badders. You didn’t tell me you were competing with f-ing Bobo the Blind. He just got an endorsement from QUASI, y’all are done!”

And sure enough, I go to look at Bobo’s Facebook page (which is adorable in every way) to find this post:

I take all of this in stride, because I know I have no chance now. This is no normal dog, this is an influencer dog, with a great story and an even better following. Bobo currently sits at 3644 votes, with no one even close to that number.


What I learned from this experience, other than I need to get my dogs an Instagram following if I want them to stand a chance at winning anything, is just the latest lesson in influencer marketing. Sure, you can have a small group of friends who can help you win a contest, but it’s a lot easier when you have actual influence over a specific set of the social web.

The same very much applies to brand strategy and marketing. My daily poking of my friends reached about 1/20th (guesstimated) of my friends list on Facebook, which safely represents the typical banner ad that a brand is running. But Bobo, with his 1700+ following, has people that pay attention to his every move and have connected with him.

My friends are incentivized to vote because they  don’t want me to bother them. His following is incentivized to vote because they are emotionally tied to his victory, which is much more powerful. Just like an influencer can activate an audience to be brand advocates for a certain product or theme.

Let my lesson in dog contests be a lesson for all: if you want to win in the marketing game, find yourself a strong influencer or influencers who have an audience where the message resonates. You, the client, and the content win every time.

This post was previously posted on LinkedIn by the author, Chris Badders.

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