The Instagram account that Shirley Braha ’04 created for her 14-year-old Shih Tzu, Marnie, has attracted 2 million followers, along with love from celebs including Taylor Swift and James Franco. She shares a few of her social media secrets.

KNOW WHERE YOU FIT IN. You’ll often have to develop a narrow niche to really stand out—something Braha understands intuitively. “If I posted a photo of me eating a salad on Marnie’s account, I’d probably lose 200,000 followers in a day,” she says. “My followers follow Marnie because they like Marnie.”

TELL THE STORIES ONLY YOU CAN TELL. Even the quirky ones may resonate. “One of Marnie’s favorite activities is walking down aisles in stores, which is kind of a weird hobby, but she loves it,” says Braha. So she shot a short video of Marnie’s stroll through a drugstore, added music and put it on Vine. The video went viral.

DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR VALUES. A little attention can lead to offers from advertisers or promotional partners, but be wary of them. Braha, who earns a living from her Instagram work, says she’s protective of what Marnie represents. “When the idea of a project makes me uncomfortable, usually for moral, aesthetic or financial reasons, I back away,” she says.

INSTAGRAM: @marniethedog

SAQ, Fall 2016