By Karen Espig

It is impossible to miss the abundance of adorable animal photos and videos on the various social media platforms.

Pet owners even curate accounts for their fur babies, creating online animal stars. But why are they so popular? Let’s take a deeper look.

The Smile Factor

This tops my list. Whether you laugh and smile at horses yawning, goats talking, or fluffy kittens playing, viewing content that has no goal beyond cheering you up is a wonderful way to spend your social media time. 

Laughter has proven health benefits both short and long term, including improving mood, reducing stress and anxiety, boosting the immune system, and decreasing pain. When we laugh, we increase our oxygen intake, stimulating the heart and lungs, allowing our bodies to work effectively. It relaxes our muscles, relieves stress and even burns calories!

Human And Animal Bonding

Humans are social creatures, and many aspects of our development and mental health are supported and enriched by our relationships with other humans. This type of connection extends to our pets and assistance animals too. It might be particularly important to those without close family ties or social networks. Similarly, connecting to social media accounts or posts of animals can be a supporting tool, bringing much-needed interaction and feelings of connection.

In the United States, over 84 million homes are estimated to have pets. This speaks to just how much Western culture values and supports animals as part of the family unit.

Young At Heart

Animals behave in an uninhibited and authentic way—not unlike children. As adults, we often get bogged down in social expectations of behaviour. This requisite for adulting makes it extra refreshing to participate in something playful, even if that interaction is a virtual one. 

Animals remind us to take things a little less seriously. Quick and easy access to fun animal photos adds a little playtime to our often stressful day.

Popularity And Earning Potential

Posting pet photos is a fun way to connect with friends and share a common interest. If social engagement motivates you, an animal post will get you more likes, loves, and comments. Jiff the pomeranian has almost 10 million followers, and Nala the cat leads in the cat category at over 4 million. And while you may not reach those monumental numbers, your pet post is more likely to be shared than your vacation or artisanal coffee photos. 

As the volume of cute animal posts has grown, a new industry of Petfluencers has evolved, and money can, and is, being made. One million views on a post can garner earnings of $2500 USD and up. There is also the possibility of product promotion and advertising. 

Global Appeal

There is no language barrier, inequality, or judgement when it comes to the animal kingdom. A photo or video of an adorable hedgehog requires no explanation; we can all understand and experience it. In a world where there is so much in the way of angry and prejudiced content on social media, the unassuming animal post is a welcome tonic.

Political But In a Good Way

The politics online can get intense, and unfortunately, a lot of incomplete and incorrect information is built into politically motivated content. When it comes to animal politics, though, they frequently take the form of awareness and fund-raising.

Many organisations and individuals have utilised social media to find homes for abandoned, ill, or mistreated animals. Meanwhile, others have raised awareness in support of endangered and exploited animals.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) provides suggestions on improving the social media content for animal shelter and rescue organisations, intending to increase donations and awareness.

Everybody Loves A Hero

Not only are animals adorable, but some are also invaluable for improving the quality of life for individuals. They can also save lives in security threat situations. According to Assistance Dogs International, over 26,825 professionally trained dogs were in service in 2020. These animals assist individuals with visual impairments, mobility difficulties, autism and mental health issues, to name but a few.

Dogs have also been helpful to policing agencies in both tracking and drug-detection efforts. Patron, a Ukrainian dog, has safely detected over 200 land mines in recent weeks, enabling their removal and saving lives.

Why are animals so popular on social media? There are so many reasons, and they all speak to the deep connection we have (and need) with our animal friends. They make our lives richer and happier and ask very little in return.

So spend some of your social media time wisely and search out cute kitten photos or endearing sloth videos. It will cheer you up when you are down, and sharing them with your friends helps keep the positivity going. 

Share your favourite animal picture or video in the comments below, and let’s all enjoy the cuteness overload!