Knut, the white little ball of fur, was born in captivity at the Berlin Zoological Garden on 5 December 2006. His mother was not too keen to raise him, so he was nurtured and taught how to be a polar bear by the zookeepers. Back then, social media was still in its infancy. Had it been more developed, Knut would have definitely been the animal of the hour and a source of inspiration for tens of thousands of posts, likes, +1s, tweets, vines and videos.
Even without the help of major social media involvement the “Knutmania” managed to raise the zoo an extra 5 million euros in revenue as 30% more people came to visit in 2007. Just think of what kind of engagement and interaction a Knut would be able to create today!
In a way, Knut was a trendsetter. Nowadays there are quite a few animals that are all over social and even traditional media. Boo, a cute tiny Pomeranian puppy, caught our attention back in 2009 just by being probably the cutest dog around. There is no tragic story behind, his appeal mainly seems to have come from being adorable and really fluffy. Being mentioned on Twitter by Ke$ha and Khloé Kardashian did help too. Though he already grew up a while ago, his Facebook page still has more than 7,1 million likes. He now works as an official pet liaison for the Virgin America airline.
Another internet sensation, i.e. the “it girl/animal” of social media, is someone almost everyone has heard or seen pictures of – the Grumpy Cat. This mixed breed feline has a bit of an under bite that contributes to her special looks. She is not “grumpy at heart” though, but a really lovely personality, people who have met her report. Her Facebook page has more than a million fans and counting as she is a regular visitor in various seminars and social media events. Now she has also published a book about the fine art of grumpiness and how to create “enough bad attitude to cast a dark cloud over the whole world”. Grumpiness (apparently) guaranteed!
So how does an animal make a breakthrough in media that is growing more social by the day? By being the cutest ever (Boo), cute with a sad story (Knut) or by making funny faces (Grumpy Cat). Celebrity endorsement helps as well. Or if you happen to be a cobra and live at the Bronx Zoo, escaping and slithering around New York is a sure trick to make you famous. Just check out @BronxZoosCobra – 186 764 followers. NB! Most of these tips apply to humans as well when they are trying to make it in showbiz.
Trends come and go. Which animal will start the next new craze? I am betting on Prague Zoo’s cute elephants – you can see what they are up to via @ www.tn.cz/udolislonu.
The bear in the pic is not Knut. Pic by Michelle Bender: http://bit.ly/17g59q5