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There’s no shortage of pet content on social media. Cat lovers and dog fanatics could spend weeks scrolling and never encounter the same content twice. On Instagram, @DoggosDoingThings is one of the top dogs in this crowded field. The account has amassed a following of over 2 million users and, on July 28th, they collected some of their favorite posts into a book: Doggos Doing Things: The Hilarious World of Puppos, Borkers, and Other Good Bois.
PetPlace spoke to the dog lover behind @DoggosDoingThings, John Trulli, to learn how he went from posting on Instagram as a hobby to publishing a book and get his thoughts on what makes for an impactful dog meme.
@DoggosDoingThings: Hi, my name’s John Trulli and I run @DoggosDoingThings on Instagram. It’s a dog-themed humor account with about 2.4 million followers and I’ve been at it for around five years. My career is mostly running similar pages, making content for brands, and basically doing any and everything social media.
PetPlace: How did @DoggosDoingThings start? I assume you’re a dog owner yourself.
DDT: Of course, I have a dog named Buddy. He’s a five-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound and a rescue. His personality is just perfect — he’s extremely loud, energetic, and just kind of like a brother.
As for the account, I got really into internet humor and memes when I was around 24. I was sort of late to the game, but once I got an iPhone it was almost like peer pressure. I went online and saw so many funny people doing cool stuff. There were tons of different people and organizations that provided inspiration. I focused on animals cause it just seems like a universal thing that everybody likes looking up animals when they’ve had a tough day — or even if they’re just bored.
PP: I also think looking at a dog and trying to imagine what they’re thinking or acting out what they might say in a specific situation is a pretty universal experience.
DDT: For sure. I think I also draw inspiration from growing up and seeing movies or commercials with wisecracking pets.
PP: Your account has built an impressive following. When did you know you had something special on your hands?
DDT: To be honest, I knew @DoggosDoingThings was a hit within the first week or so. By that point, we already had around 10,000 followers. I’d started at least 50 pages before that — just things I thought were funny — and they’d maybe last a few days. With @DoggosDoingThings, I noticed that Tony Hawk started following us during the first week and that was huge. I grew up skateboarding, he’s my favorite skater of all time, so it was a real “we made it” moment.
PP: That’s certainly quite an endorsement. You alluded to the fact that there’s a ton of superficially similar content out there — people love animal memes. What do you think has set your account apart or differentiated your approach?
DDT: I think it’s both consistency and positivity. I never swear on the page, get too snarky, or say anything controversial. The goal is always just to exude positivity and make people happy. I’d never want to stress anybody out with any of our content since there’s already plenty of stuff that can do that for you.
PP: One of the key features of @DoggosDoingThings is your use of a certain dog-specific lingo. Could you tell me more about how you put together this dog dictionary?
DDT: A lot of the words and terms I use predate the account. In fact, I think “doggo” probably predates the Internet itself. Other ones like “bork bork” (bark bark) and “henlo” (hello) have been around since the earliest days of dog memes. Everybody online is kind of a dog Shakespeare, making up their own words as they go. A lot of it evolves over time, too. Nothing is really set in stone. Many of the words and phrases I posted five years ago have taken on totally new meanings today.
PP: It’s kind of like how just about any animal can be a doggo. A lot of these terms can mean just about anything, depending on which dog is saying them. Are there any that you’re especially proud to have invented?
DDT: I remember one time I made a meme of a horse and a dog that looked exactly alike. I used the term “gallop daddy” and people just thought it was hilarious. There were thousands of comments quoting “gallop daddy” or tagging other people and calling them “gallop daddy.” Instagram users especially love it when an animal is conversing with another animal or trying to describe another animal. “Nut monkey” to mean squirrel was another instant classic.
[Ed. note: Other examples include “quack daddy” (duck), “sea sausage” (seal), and “moohorse” (cow).]
PP: Do you have any advice for anyone who’s trying to make their own memes go viral or trying to set themselves apart in the world of pet content?
DDT: The number one thing, I think, when it comes to succeeding is to network with people who run similar accounts and have a similar goal. They’re called social networks for a reason. I’d say just reach out and talk to everybody. I’m always exchanging ideas and sharing content with other accounts and nobody ever gets competitive about it. It takes a lot of luck to build a following, but talking with everyone goes a long way. We’re all just regular people writing these posts.
PP: And what was it like translating an internet sensation into print?
DDT: That was definitely something that I never expected would happen. When I started, I was working construction in Boston and posting memes as a hobby when I got home at night. Just posting stuff to make people laugh. Five years later, we’ve got a book coming out. Now people will have a permanent copy of jokes I’ve made sitting in their homes — that’s still sort of unbelievable.
PP: You mentioned earlier that there’s no shortage of “feel-bad content” online. How has the first half of 2020 (and everything that’s entailed) affected the brand?
DDT: A lot of people are having a hard time this year and a lot of people are spending more time at home. Engagement is up in a big way and I get direct messages all the time from users thanking me. They’ll say things like, “I just lost my job and dog memes really brighten my day.” It makes me really happy to hear it and to know I can make some kind of a difference. I’ve put a lot of time into the account over the years and it definitely feels worthwhile knowing that it’s helped anybody through a tough time.
PP: On the subject of doing something positive, are there any causes or organizations you’d like to shout out? I remember you mentioned that your dog was a rescue.
DDT: Well, I’ve always been a fan of adopting rescues. Even though the page is mostly focused on humor, I’m always open to sharing stories from rescues when we get them because the issue is so close to my heart. As for specific organizations, there’s the Best Friends Animal Society and Paws for a Cause. In general, though, I’d encourage anybody who wants to give back to look up their local shelters and non-profits. There’s always an opportunity to make a difference somewhere local.