On one of our latest morning syncs, we got interrupted by the two new cats that one of our team members adopted. Two kittens running around the computer fighting each other with their tiny little white paws, we were all sharing this “awwwwwe” face together, yes it was special.
We started to raise questions like, “how come they’re so cute?”, and “how come so many people in the company have cats?” and the one that got all our eyes wide open… “what brought cat videos to have one of the most engaging results on social media?”
Did someone just come up with a fun idea for research?… DAMN RIGHT!
This is by far the cutest research we’ve ever done, so here it is, for the cat lovers, for the data lovers, and for all of you in between.
Oh, and fun fact – all animals in the images belong to Moburst employees.
So, Why Cats?
Since the 1990s when the internet’s importance increased especially in the U.S., people started sharing their cats images and videos via email. The first viral YouTube video was Puppy vs Cat in 2006 (today has more than 16M views), which opened a huge door for cat owners to make some extra money (and at some point a lot of money) by documenting their cats in funny moments. According to a BBC article, by 2015, almost half of all original YouTube videos were of people’s pets, and around 26 billion views were just for cats, making them the single most popular category.
The “kings of the internet”, as they are (fairly) called, are still one of the most acceptable choices in many businesses campaigns, marketing strategies, and attention grabbing content for the most variable channels.
Funny Cats, Funny Dogs
When it comes to search volume, Google’s Keyword Planner is showing us an incredible increase of almost 125%, of the keyword “funny cats” in July 2019:
Since there wasn’t any new social media platform at that time, our guess is that the growing influencer market was starting to affect the average search volume. But we’ll get to cats and influencers in a bit.
When we checked the differences between “funny cats” and “funny dogs” average monthly volume in the past year (July 2020 – June 2021) in the U.S., we were surprised to see dogs have their share of searches as well, but not surprisingly cats are the big winners:
Now, you probably think that since 2015 there were more important subjects to search for, but when looking at Google Trends, well, lets just say that “cats” and “breakfast” are almost equally increasing by the years:
The question that still remains is: How do businesses use this data and does it work for EVERY business?
Lets Talk Cat Business
Cats helped some of the most popular internet entertainment and media channels between young adults, such as Buzzfeed, Cheezburger and 9Gag, to grow their network to become huge media channels. Only on YouTube, cat videos are estimated to have over 25 billions views. The internet even surrendered to cat “influencers”, or better said “catfluencers”, such as the famous Grumpy Cat and Hamilton the Hipster Cat, which even have their own agents. According to a study Mintle made, a pet influencer can get almost an 89% increase in comments compared to human influencers.
However, having a catfluencer is not the only thing you need, but also to know how to use their marketing abilities to gain engagement. For example, according to Pulsar, after following some of the most active catfluencers, they discovered that Grumpy Cat accounted for 83% of conversation volume, despite having a million followers fewer than the reigning cat queen Nala.
In the 2000s, big companies started to understand the power of using cats in their campaigns, and launched big budget commercials combining their products and cats in different creative ways:
Mercedes-Benz – CLA ‘Cat’
IKEA – “Happy Inside”
Cravendale – Cats with Thumbs
Psychological studies show that our humor improves after watching cat videos. This might explain why in a world of scrolling into infinite timelines, we’d stop to watch a cat everytime we see one. And, as for the internet mentality, once something is trending, you won’t stop seeing it, and it is a circle that inlaces the back of our mind, conditioning us to obsession – exhaustion.
According to 9 clouds, “Your online customers – both present and potential – are cats.” Unlike loyal dogs, once you try to get their attention, they give you the “don’t care” audience kind of look. The only thing that will get their attention when you want it is tuna, or in a marketing language – value.
Hubspot said in their article about inbound marketing – “Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.”
Should you use cats in your next campaign?
For their fame of attracting audiences, many clients now and then ask us, marketing folks, if it would be too obvious, or “easy propaganda” if they utilize cats to call the audience for their ads or traffic. And, as much as I actually attracted YOU to THIS article utilizing cats as a great excuse to bring you here, my answer is usually pretty much the same: the mentality you should have when creating your advertising should NOT start with your assets. And cats are the asset, not the goal. Once you focus on your true value, you can go ahead and be “cat creative”.
From an SEO perspective, you should never utilize a word that has high volume simply to attract an audience. Not only Google will punish your website for “fishy” content, you will also frustrate your visitors, and you will end up burning money, attracting bounce instead of satisfied users.
From a marketing viewpoint, you should always connect your brand to your message, and if cats would fit that, once in a while, you are a lucky dog (pun intended)! Great, do it. But don’t base your efforts just on the misconception that this is a guaranteed win. Don’t forget that cats are not the only way to get people’s attention. Don’t try to trick your audience with cute images and empty messages – they deserve more than that from you and from your brand. And, to end on a positive note, don’t forget as well that, more often than you might think, there is a lot of space and freedom on the internet for new trends to arise – and your honest and well done campaign could be the next big thing, with or without cats!
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Fun fact – all animals in the images above belong to Moburst employees!