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Courtney Canfield Talks About Rambo The Puppy’s Secrets To His Online Success


Courtney Canfield Talks About Rambo The Puppy’s Secrets To His Online Success

From being a local celebrity to becoming an internet sensation, Rambo the puppy has come a long way — from being an unofficial mascot in one of his hometown’s biggest trials to amassing over 37,000 followers on Instagram. Find out how Rambo’s online fame success started as told by his owner, Courtney Canfield. Any day is a good day to hear stories of a good boy — and Rambo is definitely one!

From being a local celebrity to becoming an internet sensation, Rambo the Puppy has come a long way, amassing over 37,000 followers on Instagram. Find out how Rambo’s online fame success started as told by his owner, Courtney Canfield. Any day is good to hear stories of a good boy — and Rambo is definitely one!

Tell us more about your background and how you got started with Rambo. 

After graduating in 2011, Courtney Canfield worked in a law office a year after. Someone she was dating at the time encouraged her to get a dog, but she hesitated at first as she grew up with cats. Eventually, she gave in, and they had a puppy and called him Rambo

In 2012, the John Edwards trial was taking place in Courtney’s hometown, Greensboro. It was a widely covered trial that went on for about six weeks. Because of this, Courtney would see many reporters outside her house daily. Whenever she walked Rambo outside, the reporters would stop and talk to her, asking her about her dog. It wasn’t long before Rambo became the unofficial mascot of the trial. 

At the end of the trial, the reporters asked how they were going to keep up with Rambo as they wanted to see him grow. Courtney told them about Rambo’s Facebook page, and that was when everything started to take off. By the end of 2014, Rambo’s page gained almost 300,000 followers. 

Courtney got laid off as a legal assistant but continued running Rambo’s page. She started applying for social media jobs and got hired because her employer was so impressed with the number of followers Rambo had on his Facebook account. 

What inspired you to start his Instagram account?

Courtney started Rambo’s Instagram account because it was the newest social media platform back then, and the younger generation has been using it. She admits she wasn’t as dedicated to Instagram as she was to Facebook, as Rambo’s Instagram page didn’t grow as fast. 

For Courtney, this wasn’t as rewarding and didn’t give her the dopamine she had when she was managing Rambo’s Facebook page. Eventually, she understood the value of Instagram and started creating more content for the platform. She even comes up with unique content for different platforms. 

But despite Rambo’s presence on Instagram, Courtney says their largest audience is still on Facebook. They also receive the highest engagement rates on Facebook. 

Would you say that Rambo helped you grow your social media skills?

Courtney credits Rambo for everything she learned about social media. After starting Rambo’s pages online, she learned a lot, namely creating good content on social media, as she was doing everything herself. After teaching herself the best practices of content creation and social media management through doing, she’s able to transition that knowledge and share it with the teams she worked with before. 

She says the experience of creating and managing Rambo’s social media pages helped her become an expert not only on influencers but becoming a good brand online by engaging with followers in various ways. 

How do you come up with content ideas for Rambo’s Instagram page?

Courtney’s experience over the last three years has been very different in terms of content creation. When she was laid off from her job as a legal assistant, she had the chance to become a full-time content creator. This allowed her to dedicate all of her time to content creation and be able to film different things.

During this time, she spent about 40 to 50 hours a week on content creation and found inspiration in different places. After a while, the process starts to get old, causing her not to receive as many brand deals as before. This caused a lot of stress since brand deals were one of her and Rambo’s main income streams. 

Now that Courtney has a full-time job, her priorities for content creation have changed drastically. Before, she focused on creating videos for Rambo; today, she aims to tell stories without using words while being a trainer and video director at the same time. 

Can you walk us through your process of creating sponsored content on Rambo’s Instagram?

After Courtney negotiated with the brand and signed a contract, she worked closely with them to understand their creative guidelines. While some brands have an in-depth understanding of what they want from Rambo upfront, others don’t. Courtney sees the latter as a double-edged sword by saying, “It can either be really great because you can help them figure it out, or it can be really frustrating because they actually do know what they want but don’t know how to articulate it.”

In terms of creating sponsored content, Courtney also asks for as much creative leeway as possible. She brainstorms and sends concepts to the brand, depending on what kind of content they are expecting from Rambo. She irons out everything in the beginning, and once the brand okays her concept or creative direction, she starts filming. 

Courtney doesn’t just film one video per sponsored content; she takes several cuts of the video and determines what the best cut is during editing. She also makes sure to add any other detail as she edits, like the brand’s trademark symbol, preferred caption, or text overlay, to minimize the need for revisions later.

How do you balance promoting products and maintaining authenticity in Rambo’s account?

When Courtney was still working with many brands, she relied on proper scheduling to ensure that Rambo’s branded posts still felt and looked authentic. For example, she would post content for a specific brand on the first day of July and then for another brand, which is not a competitor of the first brand, in the middle of July. 

But when working with brands in the same industry, like pet food, treats, or harnesses, Courtney makes an intentional effort to space out those content apart. She doesn’t want Rambo’s followers to think that they’re solely posting to get paid promoting brands or products. 

Can you share tips for creating engaging and visually appealing content on Instagram?

Courtney advises creators to make sure that their background on videos and photos doesn’t look messy, regardless of the location they’re filming. Pet creators tend to be in awe of the pet’s cuteness when taking photos or videos but fail to see the laundry basket in the background. 

Pets are the main subject, but aspiring creators should look around in the environment where their pet is as it impacts the overall visual aesthetic of the content.

Courtney also says that having a fancy camera isn’t a requirement. But for those who already have one, it pays to learn how to use it properly. 

The third tip Courtney has for aspiring creators is to invest in a high-quality tripod. Content taken from a shaken camera is one of the most obnoxious things to view. So instead of holding the phone or camera and risking shaking when filming content, it’s best to use a tripod or gimbal. Either will make any content look smoother and less shaky and improve its overall visual cleanliness, especially when following a pet around. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as an influencer marketer?

For Courtney, getting clients on the same page can be a challenge. For example, in terms of influencer rates. This issue has been reoccurring in the industry as there’s no standardized way of determining how much an influencer is worth, and many set their own rates. 

Courtney adds that negotiating with creators when brands have a very tight budget is a struggle. It’s better for brands to have high expectations and a high budget instead of having high expectations but a very low budget. 

How do you engage with followers and build a community around Rambo’s brand?

Responding to comments is Courtney’s number one strategy for engaging with Rambo’s followers. She admits doing this is hard as they receive plenty of Facebook comments every day but has discovered a trick. “The best way to do it is by responding to comments thoughtfully, especially comments that are written thoughtfully, as well.”

Courtney also grows Rambo’s audience through a private Facebook group where she engages with Rambo fanatics by posting behind-the-scenes content and other exclusive content that isn’t available in Rambo’s news feed. Courtney believes this approach is also a great way to humanize Rambo’s account. 

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or collaborations that we can expect to see from Rambo in the future?

Unfortunately, Rambo doesn’t have any upcoming collaborations as Courtney started her full-time job at an agency. Her focus shifted from content creation and brand partnerships to the work she’s doing every day for the agency and creation on the side. 

But Rambo’s followers can look forward to his pet creator tips series, where Courtney shares her tips with other pet creators and creators. Combined with her experience as an influencer marketer and creator, Courtney will use this series to give information to fellow creators to help them in their content creation journey. 

The series has been on hiatus for a very long time, and Courtney has already created a few posts. She plans to be more consistent in creating and posting content for the series. This time, the theme of the series will be focused on content creation as Courtney steps back from brand partnerships. 

What is your long-term goal for Rambo’s Instagram account?

Two years ago, Courtney would have wanted to grow Rambo’s Instagram followers, find an agent who understands pets and influencers, and be able to fly around the world. But her priorities have changed; now, she just wants to maintain Rambo’s Instagram account by herself. 

Rambo has also experienced some health issues, limiting their online and travel activities. This was a reality check for Courtney and made her realize that Rambo won’t be around forever. She’s currently evaluating her priorities but won’t stop posting content on Rambo’s account. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own pet influencer account on social media?

Courtney wants aspiring pet influencers to be aware that the process is hard and that falling in love with the creative process is the only way for them to grow an account and make their pets famous online. She also recommends creators to be ready to invest a lot of time and earn little to no ROI.

Anyone who wants to become a pet influencer should also be in it for the long haul because they might not make it big in the end but still want everything to be worth it. Most importantly, they have to be willing to put the work in because success doesn’t happen overnight. For Courtney, it took her three years of constant posting before she received a gifting partnership. 

Another tip Courtney has for those who want to become a pet influencer is to take close-up photos of their pets, where their pet’s face is the majority of the photo. According to Courtney, she read one research paper a while ago saying that photos and videos taken farther away have less engagement than content that is taken closer up to the pets because people naturally want to see a pet’s eyes and expression. 

What advice would you give someone starting as a content creator in the current market?

Courtney advises them to figure out what their niche is and double down on it. She also recommends posting content every day, especially for creators who want to make a name on Instagram. 

For Instagram, she recommends posting at least once a day and then multiple times to Instagram stories. For TikTok, six times a day, which will require a lot of work, testing, and learning. 

Another piece of advice she has is to commit and believe in your mission and the reason why you’re doing all of these in the first place. Don’t wait, and be proactive all the time. 

When following a trend, make sure that it makes sense for the niche you’ve chosen. Courtney shared having a friend who makes bunny-related content, but it went viral because of a video she took with raccoons and a dumpster. Forcing you to follow trends that don’t feel right with your content or niche will eventually lead to wasted time and effort. 

Do you think social media platforms fairly compensate creators?

Courtney doesn’t have enough followers on YouTube to run ads but knows tons of people who have a large following on YouTube. From them, she knows that YouTube is the most lucrative platform compared to TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. But aside from YouTube, she believes that creators aren’t properly compensated.

How do you see the creator economy evolving in the future?

In the future, Courtney expects to see more creators every day, and being able to stand out will be the key to success. There will be creators who will go viral for something very normal or a specific trend, but in order to be a great creator, they should learn how to sustain and grow their audience. 

On whether or not to hire a manager

Courtney is part of a Meta Creators Facebook group, which is sponsored by Meta. One of the biggest questions asked there is whether or not creators need a manager. 

The answer to this question is debatable and subjective because it really depends on the situation. Courtney’s experience with a manager has been awful, so she advises anyone planning to work with a manager to be careful because some contracts are overreaching, and creators must dedicate a certain percentage of their income to them. 

Instead of investing time in defining a manager, Courtney recommends finding a virtual assistant who specializes in social media or influencers. Virtual assistants are beneficial to creators who are still starting to make a name in the industry as they can help respond to emails, review contracts, and other mundane or repetitive tasks. 

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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