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Welcome back to our Instagram 101 Series! Ever hear and wonder what people are talking about when you hear the term “stories” in relation to Instagram? Looking for a way to boost your Instagram account’s engagement? Have a fun photo or video that you want to share, but don’t necessarily want to post it to your main feed? If you’re looking for a fun way to share content, Instagram stories is exactly what you are looking for.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram created “stories” to directly compete with it’s visual sharing competitor, Snapchat. Instagram Stories are photos or short video clips that are posted on your account for 24 hours. After 24 hours, your story disappears from your account. You may have seen those circle icon at the top of your home screen. These are other people’s stories. As they upload, you will continue to see them at the top of your page. To watch someone’s story, simply click on the icon. Stories will continuously play and switch to the next user until you close out of the page.

Photo Credit: FonePaw

Why You Should Post Stories?

Stories are a great way to share content that you may not typically share on your mainstream feed. Often, stories are also used to share the “behind the scenes” of your daily adventures, promote products, promote blog posts or even used to alert followers when you put a new post up. There’s no wrong or right way to use stories, use them as you see fit for your account.

How to Post A Story

Posting your first story can often be daunting, but it’s actually just as easy as posting a photo or video onto your Instagram feed. Once you’ve posted a story or two, you’ll be a pro in no time!

To begin, open your Instagram account and make sure you are on the “home” tab, which is located in the bottom left hand corner and looks like a house icon.

Once you’re on your home page, click on the camera icon, which is located in the top left hand corner of your account. This will open the camera on your phone. Instagram allows you to have the option of taking a photo or video and uploading it or you can upload a photo or video from your phone’s gallery that you previously took.

To take a live photo or video, simply tap the large white button at the bottom of your screen for a photo or hold that white button to take a video. Instagram allows your story videos to be 15 seconds or less. If you choose to upload a photo or video that you have previously taken, simply tap the far left box. You will see your latest photo from your phone’s gallery here.

Once you’ve taken your photo or uploaded your content, click the “send to” button and then “share”, followed by “done”. Voila, you’ve created your first story! 🙂

Text, Stickers, Gifs & More!

While you can leave your story as is, but just as you write a caption for your main feed post, you will probably want to write a caption for your story to let your followers know what is going on in your story. Overlaying text on top of  your story is just as easy as posting. Once you’ve taken or selected your photo, tap the “Aa” icon in the upper right hand corner. Here, you will be able to type a short caption and choose your font. In addition to writing a short caption, you can also tag accounts. If you tag an account in your story, your story will automatically be sent to the account you tagged so that they are alerted to your story as well.

A fun way to spruce up the appearance of your stories is by adding stickers and/or gifs. Gifs are moving emojis that can really capture a follower’s attention and add a little humor to your story. Again, once you’ve taken or selected your photo, simply tap the smiling sticker icon in the upper right of your story.

Here, not only can you add emojis and gifs, but you can also add facts such as your location, the time and the temperature. By adding your location, you can attract new followers that are around your area. You can be as precise as adding the exact location of any stores you are at or keep it generic in only adding the city or town that you are in.

Check Your Stats!

Just as you may check your insights for your Instagram posts, checking the insights on your Instagram story may be just as helpful when you are planning your content and/or working with a brand.

To check your insights, when on your home page of Instagram, tap your own story icon. Once your video starts playing or your photo pops up, you should see “seen by” in the lower left hand corner. This is the number of people that have seen your story. Tap “seen by” and a new page opens up.

Here, you can see exactly which accounts have viewed your story. To see deeper insights, simply tap the graph bar icon which will break down your interactions and discovery. Use this insightful tool to help determine which of your stories are most successful.

You can compare stories to see which stories have higher views and engagement. For instance, you may have higher views if you add #cutedog to your story versus just adding #dog. Play around with your hashtags and see what works best for you and your account. However, be sure to check your insights near your stories 24 hour mark. Just as the stories disappear, so will your stories insights.

All in all, Instagram stories, while meant to be an additional feature of Instagram, actually pack a lot of punch. Use stories to your advantage, whether that be showcasing a product you’ve been asked to share, sneak peeks of upcoming posts, sharing of blog posts, behind the scenes, etc. Allow stories to be yet another creative outlet for you to share your visual images with all your friends and followers.

Have any Instagram stories tricks to share? What makes your Instagram stories pop? Let us know in the comments below or share your thoughts with us in an Instagram story of your own. Don’t forget to tag our Instagram account @mybenebone so we see your story.

Just about all of us have seen Disney’s 101 Dalmatians and/or photos of dalmatians sitting proudly atop of a firetruck lending a helping paw. Sure, you may think you know dalmatians, but did you know how friendly, confident and intelligent Dalmatians truly are? One family in Houston, Texas is not only educating fellow dog owners about Dalmatians, but they are also a growing and popular Instagram account: @jackson_the_dalmatian. In this Fan Feature, you’ll get to know more about this beautiful dog breed and we also have Jackson’s Mom, Julie, sharing some of her photography tips!

If you’ve been following Jackson and his brothers, Heath and Bennett over the years, you know Jackson is the star of this handsome trio. If you are new to Jackson’s Instagram account, let us introduce you to the family: Jackson, who is now 3 years old, has lived with his Dad in Texas from the start of his puppy days. Jackson’s brother, Heath is a 4 year old Weimaraner that lived with their Mom, Julie, in Ohio until they moved down to Texas and married Jackson’s Dad.

After they were settled into their new home, Jackson and Heath welcomed a baby brother, Bennett, now a 1 year old Dalmatian.

While it was brotherly love from the start for Jackson and Heath, adding Bennett to the mix was a bit of a transition period for Heath. It took Heath about a month to adjust to having another younger brother in the house. At times throughout the adjustment period, whenever Heath would become agitated with Bennett, Jackson would recognize Heath’s irritability and interject himself in between Heath and Bennett. Yes, Jackson physically inserted himself in between Heath and Bennett! Julie believes that Jackson would do this to not only shield Bennett, but to also signal to Heath to calm down.

When we asked Julie why she decided to start an Instagram account for her dog, Julie said that initially it was set up to keep in touch with Jackson and share his puppy photos while she was still in Ohio and Jackson was in Texas. It was a way for Julie to stay connected to Jackson despite being thousands of miles apart. Instagram also provided Julie with a way to share Jackson’s puppy and growth photos with her family and friends. And while Julie had no plans on becoming Instafamous, she is continuously delighted to watch as Jackson’s following has grown to over 50,000 followers!

Instagram fame is not what keeps Julie motivated to post adorable photos of Jackson and his brothers. According to Julie, the most rewarding part of Instagram has been the connections she’s made with fellow pet parents. Instagram has allowed her to meet dog lovers both internationally and domestically that she would not have met otherwise. Julie and Jackson have also used Instagram as a way to meet local dogs within their Houston community. Setting up local play dates within your community is a great way to socialize your dog and make new friends.

Jackson and his brothers certainly reap the benefits of Julie working from home, as their typical day includes lots of time with Mom, going for walks, playing fetch and swimming in their pool.

And since Julie works from home, she is able to use the natural daylight, which she says is key for Jackson’s fantastic photos. It also helps that Jackson is a natural in front of the camera. Whenever Julie pulls out her phone or the camera, Jackson seems to naturally pose. It also helps that Jackson is highly treat motivated and knows that picture time equals treat time!

But, while Jackson is the ham of the family, Heath and Bennett are a bit camera shy, which is why they aren’t regulars on Jackson’s Instagram account. Since it can be a bit of a challenge to get all 3 boys to cooperate, Julie sprinkles in Heath and Bennett’s appearances occasionally.

For any newbie dog accounts or pet parents looking to take photos of their dog, Julie says that natural light is best to help showcase your dog’s eyes. For Jackson, much of his personality and expression is captured in his eyes. Another helpful hint from Julie is to have lots of treats and squeaky toys on hand to help grab your dog’s attention during photo time.

And yet despite all the love that Jackson receives, there can still be misconceptions about this breed. In the past, Dalmatians have had a reputation of being high strung, untrainable and not the best with kids. However, Julie says that she has never seen any of these qualities in her Dalmatians and that they are nothing but “confident, intelligent and outgoing”. A big part of Jackson’s outgoing personality is, in part, due to Julie socializing Jackson as much as possible with not only other dogs, but other people as well. Julie and her husband take Jackson to as many pet-friendly places as possible. So far, Jackson’s favorite so far seems to be the beach. Galveston Island to be specific.

Sure, Jackson has a lot of energy, but with the right amount of exercise and stimulation, Julie says it’s not unheard of for Jackson to nap the rest of the day away.

So next time you see a Dalmatian, look past all the spots and preconceived notions. These dogs are just as fun and loving as any other breed. Don’t take our word for it, give Jackson and his brothers a follow on their Instagram account to keep up with their adventures. This summer is sure to be packed with swimming and road trips. But, no wet grass. That is where Jackson draws the line! 😉

 

It’s that time of year! Time to dust off those hiking boots and hit the trails.

Photo Credit: @fen_the_aussie

Since we sadly cannot take our furry best friend to workout at the gym with us, we’ve seen an increase in dog owners taking their dogs out for a hike with them. Not every hike has to be miles long, a daily hike can be just as effective and fun. If the thought of exercising with your best friend isn’t intuitive enough, imagine all the beautiful photo opportunities you can take of your dog.

In anticipation of, Fen the Aussie, one of our favorite hiking friend’s big upcoming hiking trip, we rounded up some photos of other hiking dogs to showcase the wonderful time that these dogs and their owners have had on their hikes. And, if you have been inspired to hike with your dog, you can read Fen and his Dad Ryan’s helpful hike preparation tips here.

Photo Credit: @fen_the_aussie

We would love to see your hiking photos with your dog! Tag your hiking photos to any of our Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts with #benebone and you may see your hiking photo featured on our feed. Happy hiking! 🙂

Featured image: @naya.dog

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Welcome to our newest series: Instagram 101! Starting an Instagram account for either yourself or your dog is fun and exciting. Instagram has a lot to offer people looking to connect with like-minded people worldwide.

What is Instagram?

Some of you that have landed here may already know what Instagram is and (thankfully) follow our Benebone Instagram account. If you are new to Instagram, welcome aboard! In short, Instagram is a photo sharing social media platform. Much like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram allows you connect with people around the world. While each platform may vary, Instagram is heavily focused on photographs and visuals. In fact, you can’t even post to Instagram without posting a visual of some sort.

Photo Credit: Jack’s Advice

What to Post?

This is the great debate. Should you post photographs? Videos? A combination of both? You will have to figure out what’s best for your audience through some trial and error. It’s always easiest to start with visually pleasing photographs, as it is probably the easiest to capture and work your way up to videos. Videos tend to bring more engagement with audiences on Instagram, but a good mixture is key to a great looking home feed (your overall Instagram page).

How Often Should I Post?

This question is harder to answer than most, as the answer is ever changing. When Facebook acquired Instagram, it brought along a complex algorithm with it. Quickly, Instagram changed from a chronological-based feed to a user-based feed. What’s this mean for you? It means that you have to work harder to have your posts seen by not only your followers, but any new potential followers as well.

Photo Credit: @gioiericcione

There are many theories about the best time to post. For us, we post at least once a day, everyday. In order for your account to stay relevant in Instagram’s eyes, you should stay active. If you have the time to post twice a day, that could certainly help your engagement levels on your daily posts. However, be mindful about posting too much. If you’re posting multiple times a day, that can be off putting to your followers and you may see a quick decrease in your following. Posting can be a balancing act at times, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you find a rhyme that works for you.

Quality of Posts!

It is true that professional photographs taken with an expensive DSLR camera and lens kit do well. But what if you don’t have that level of equipment or are not a professional photographer? Don’t let that keep you from having fun on Instagram.

There are many creators that use nothing but the camera on their phone. The key is to capture clear, sharp images. It may take many attempts, but even creators using a DSLR camera go through just as many takes as camera phone users.

 

Photo Credit: makeuseof.com

In addition to clear images, a thought-out caption is key! Decide before you post if you want your account to be funny, serious, informative or whimsical. There is no right or wrong, but you should stay consistent. Audiences should have a basic idea of what to expect from your account. A good example is @dogswhobrunch. As you can see from their feed, some photographs shared are taken with a DSLR camera and some are quick camera phone takes. But, what they all have in common is a consistent theme of dogs that like brunch.

How to Post!

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Instagram is, it’s time to post! Since Instagram is a mobile app platform, you will need to download the app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Instagram is a free app. The only time you will have to pay anything is if you decide to promote a post, which we will get into on a later blog post.

Google Play Instagram Install Photo Credit: Social Dong

Once downloaded, open the app and create an account. All you need is your email address (or phone number) and a username. (Tip: Create an easy to remember username. If you attend a dog event and exchange Instagram handles with another dog parent, you want them to be able to find your account and give you a follow. If your username contains a lot of numbers or underscores, they may not be able to find you.) After you’ve entered your information and hit “next” and voila, your account is created and you are ready to post!

Photo Credit: Social High Rise

Next, you will want to edit your profile. This is what people will see when they visit your page, so be mindful about the information you share. You can opt to make your profile private in the settings section of your account. When set to private, the only people that can see your posts are the accounts you have approved to follow you. If your account is set to public, anyone and everyone has the ability to view your posts. To edit your bio, simply go to your home page, bottom right icon in the app. At the top, you will see a button “edit profile”. From here, Instagram will walk you through the information you can list.

So Now You’re Ready to Post?!

Posting is easy and fun. Tap the + icon at the bottom of the app. This will open to your phone’s camera gallery.

You have the option of posting a photo or video that you have already taken or you can take one on the spot and post immediately.

Once you’ve decided on the photo or video you are going to post, tap the “Next” button, which takes you to the editing process of Instagram. Here, you can adjust, add filters, etc. to edit your photos. If you are uploading a video to Instagram, your editing options will be trimming the length of your video and picking a cover photo for your video. Once finished editing, click “Next” in the upper righthand corner.

Your next step will be to add your caption. This is also where you can add your location and tag other Instagram accounts on your photos. Tagging accounts is visible to your followers. This is a good way to share where you are, any clothes that your dog may be wearing, etc.

Once you’ve added your caption and added your optional location and/or tags, tap the “Share” button and watch your post go live! While it may seem like a lot of steps to add a post, once you become familiar with the process, it will be like second nature and only take you a few minutes to post.

Throughout our Instagram 101 Series, we will be talking all things engagement, stories, increasing your following and more! If there’s anything, in particular, you’d like to see us cover, please let us know in the comments below. And, please, be sure to give our social media accounts a follow: we are on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

Feature Image: @sebastianlovesluna

One of America’s most popular and regal dog breeds is the German Shepherd and our next Fan Feature is a prime example of why this breed is so beloved! Met Rex Von Deutsch, a 2 year-old purebred German Shepherd living in South Carolina.

If you are intrigued about Rex Von Deutsch’s name, you’re not alone, so were we and had to get the details behind this fabulous name. Rex Von Deutsch’s mom, Maria, watched a show when she was younger called “Commissary Rex” that featured a German Shepherd who became a police dog. “Von Deutsch” is German for “from Germany”. Translated, “Rex Von Deutsch” means “Rex from Germany”. What a fun and creative meaning behind a name.

Since Maria was a young girl, she knew that she wanted a German Shepherd, but had been searching for the right puppy to bring home into the family. When Marie went to meet Rex Von Deutsch, his litter mates and parents a little over 2 years ago, it was love at first sight! Out of all the puppies, Rex Von Deutsch came right over to Marie and she knew he was the one for her and her family. After that, they made the 3 hour drive back home, which might be where Rex Von Deutsch’s love for car rides started.

Rex Von Deutsch is always the first one in the car, anxious to see where their next adventure will take them. As soon as Rex Von Deutsch sees Marie putting on her “adventure” shoes and grabbing her bag, he knows that they are going somewhere fun and special. Rex Von Deutsch is always extra excited to go to the dog park, go hiking and play some soccer.

As you may have guessed, being a German Shepherd, Rex Von Deutsch certainly has the protective trait in him, as he is very protective over Maria, however, he turns into a super sweetheart when he wants attention. Rex Von Deutsch will lay his head on Maria’s lap and give his best puppy eyes until he gets her full attention. This desire for love and attention is the main reason why Rex Von Deutsch stays with Maria’s mom when she is at the University.

When Rex Von Deutsch sees the mailman or UPS delivery man, he will go into his super protective mode barking and yelling at the “intruder”, however, once he sees that there is a package being brought to the door, his barks quickly turn into tail wags. Because, more than likely the packages are for him!

While a typical day for Rex Von Deutsch may start out like most dog’s days, it certainly doesn’t stay that way. Rex Von Deutsch starts most days with a few naps and some outdoor playtime, but then he does his daily training …. in 3 different languages! Yes, that’s right, 3 different languages. Rex Von Deutsch understands English, Spanish and French! Just when you thought you were having a productive day, Rex Von Deutsch comes strolling by, performing tricks in various languages!

If you haven’t checked out this handsome boy’s Instagram page yet, you should do yourself a favor and do so! Marie created Rex Von Deutsch’s Instagram page to showcase her love for dogs and in particular, how much Rex Von Deutsch is loved. But, what she didn’t realize is how much Instagram would connect her with fellow pet loving parents. Marie has turned her Instagram account into a community place for dog parents to share thoughts, ideas and see what products Rex Von Deutsch is currently loving.

And while Rex Von Deutsch is a only child for now, keep an eye on his Instagram account. You never know when Rex Von Deutsch may get a fur brother. Maria is in total love with the breed and has been on the hunt looking for a German Shepherd to adopt. If you happen to see a German Shepherd in need of a loving home, be sure to tag Marie and keep Rex Von Deutsch in mind.

All Photos: @rex_von_deutsch

Each year on Valentine’s Day, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives try to out romance one another in the hopes of being crowned the most adorable sweetheart. Sure, you can get flowers, jewelry, chocolates or even a new handbag, but even with all the money in the world, you can’t compete with a cute dog!

With just the flash of some puppy eyes and maybe a cute whimper or two, dogs on Valentine’s Day will surely win over everybody’s heart! Here are 10 dogs that are winning at life on Valentine’s Day (in no particular order) …..

  1. @sebastianlovesluna

These just might be America’s sweethearts! Luna, a Pomeranian, and Sebastian, a Frenchie, are young and in love in the capital of Washington, D.C. Like any relationship, Sebastian and Luna have had their ups and downs over the years. If you follow them, which you should, you might have seen their video breakup and makeup series. We are happy to report that their love has withstood the test of time and they are currently engaged! Be sure to keep an eye out for Sebastian and Luna’s wedding later this spring.

Photo Credit: @sebastainlovesluna
  1. @thepompompack

These fluffy Pomeranians are a pack of 4 hailing from warm and sunny Florida. Anyone that has multiple dogs knows how hard it is to get all the dogs to sit still and look at the camera. Not only do these adorable Pomeranians nail that, but they do it in style and themed out to the max! Not only are these Poms stealing your heart, but they’re giving all the ladies blow out hair envy as well!

Photo Credit: @thepompompack
  1. @rambothepuppy

Rambo is a maltese/yorkie mix living the good life with over 300,000 Facebook friends! You will often spot Rambo enjoying a relaxing mimosa and bacon brunch on the weekends and Nexflixing with a hoodie of popcorn on the weeknights. If this stud doesn’t steal your heart with his charm and good looks, we don’t know what will!

Photo Credit: @rambothepuppy
  1. @tuckers_tails

Tucker is a Morkie from Ontario, Canada, who not only wins over ladies hearts with his good looks and incredible baking skills, but he also has a heart of gold. Tucker is a registered therapy dog who works with young children. Tucker visits his local libraries where he sits with children who pick out books that they think Tucker will like and read them aloud to him. With such patience, kindness and love, we are sure Tucker has a line of ladies wanting to date him!

Photo Credit: @tuckers_tails
  1. @itsmisterbarclay

It’s been said that there’s nothing more handsome on a man than a smile. We are convinced that this saying might have been inspired by the joyous and infectious smile of Mr. Barclay! This futball loving rescue and his Mom often spend their weekends volunteering at the local shelter Mr. Barclay was rescued from. Mr. Barclay is proof that you don’t need materialistic items to win over a person’s heart…. All you need is love and a fabulous smile!

Photo Credit: @itsmisterbarclay
  1. @thatgoldendoodle

Murphy is for all you single folks out there that don’t need a significant other to have a good time on Valentine’s Day. Murphy is a female Goldendoodle living in Sin City, Las Vegas who believes “every hour should be happy hour”. Murphy’s good looks are matched equally by her sense of humor!

Photo Credit: @thatgoldendoodle
  1. @izzytherescuepuppy

Izzy is a proud rescue pup from Arlington, VA that loves to chase squirrels, balls and sticks. Izzy can often be seen attending dog events and fundraisers in Washington, D.C. Not only is Izzy beautiful, but she’s a smart pup as well! Both Izzy and her Mom are graduates: Izzy from obedience school and Mom from Yale School of Management! If you’re looking for a date with Izzy, you better bring your “A” game!

Photo Credit: @izzytherescuepuppy & Pooch Portrait Studio
  1. @jojothebernedoodle

Josie aka Jojo is a 1 ½ year old girl from Michigan who is single and ready to mingle! If you think you have what it takes to keep up with this energetic, fun loving girl, you must first get past her Mom, as Jojo is a self-proclaimed Momma’s girl!

Photo Credit: @jojothebernedoodle
  1. @chocolatebarpaws

Besides having one of the most clever Instagram handles, their names are just as fun: Hershey, Oh Henry and Reese Pieces range in ages 1 through 9 and are loving the snowy weather in their hometown of Ontario, Canada. We are sad to report that most of the pack have Valentine’s Day dates, however, sweet Reese Pieces is still looking for love!

Photo Credit: @chocolatebarpaws
  1. @tails.of.teddy

Teddy is a 1 ½ year-old Maltipoo from Toronto, Canada who not only uses his good looks to pick up ladies, but his smooth pick up lines as well! Don’t leave your loved one alone with Teddy, as you might be the one going home alone! 😉

Photo Credit: @tails.of.teddy