Cute Puppy Alert: DogVacay Uses Cute Dog Photos To Find Customers

It's almost always difficult to get people to share information about your startup to the world. However, DogVacay, the Santa Monica-based startup which offers up an online service to help connect dog owners with people to watch their pets, has a secret weapon -- cute dog and puppy photos.

Followers of the company's Facebook page, blog, and Twitter feed are familiar with the steady drumbeat of cute dog and puppy photos that the company is always sharing--and, might now be familiar with DogVacay's online peer-to-peer marketplace. That's the idea, at least, according to Aaron Hirschhorn. He explained the sharing of cute dog photos came out of the company's desire to create engaging content in Facebook, about something that people find interesting. Does it work? Hirschhorn says that social is "absolutely" one of its main channels for customers--but does say that the top way people learn about the service is still word of mouth.

The company will occasionally share information on its social feeds about its service, which helps dog owners find a spot for your pooch when you go on vacation, tapping into a network of other dog owners who are offering up their own homes for other people's dogs--but Hirschhorn says the company is careful not to constantly put out promotional information, because he says that "destroys" a company's Facebook page ranking. Instead, the company has focused on providing engaging content users love to share--in this case, all those cute puppies.

Generating all that social content isn't a walk in the park, however--Hirschhorn says it has someone working full time managing the company's Facebook and Twitter feeds, and has two fulltime writers and someone doing full time PR. But, what helps, he says, is the company's habit of having everyone in the company tell the stories they run across in working with customers--from someone with a blind dog hosting another person's blind dog, to a user finding a retired veterinarian that could help inject medicine into their dog while they were gone--every day, which are then collected by the company for its social media efforts.