Alpaca accounts are underrated social media treasures
In the vast world of animals with social media accounts, common household pets like cats and dogs typically reign supreme. But if you’re not following your fair share of alpacas on the internet, you’re sorely missing out.
Though social media accounts dedicated to alpacas are rare, they're remarkable — like delicious pieces of hay in the ridiculous needle stack that is the internet. You have to do a bit more searching than you would to find a cat or dog account, sure. But when you do happen upon a dedicated farm or fan posting camelid content, it doesn't disappoint.
Since following several alpaca accounts like Alpacas of Instagram, Barnacre Alpacas, and The Woolly Army, I've found the animals' presence in my daily digital life, though small, to be a real mood booster. After noticing that lighthearted alpaca content makes Twitter and Instagram significantly more bearable, I decided to reach out to some leaders of the alpaca social media movement to learn more about the underrated animals, and what it's like making a space for them online.
Alpacas are the ideal internet animal in my opinion. They're cute — but not too cute — and bursting with personality, which comes across perfectly in photographs and videos. They're experts at sporting goofy grins and shooting skeptical stares, and often give off major IDGAF vibes that speak to me on a deeply personal level after scrolling through pages and pages of monotonous selfies and brunch shots.
Some alpacas — like , a 4-year-old male camelid in Australia, and , an especially small but resilient female alpaca in Colorado, who defied her odds of survival after being born prematurely — have thousands of followers on Instagram. But if you're craving a variety of diverse and delightful alpaca content, is the account for you.
The human behind the Alpacas of Instagram account, who asked not to be identified in this article, explained in an email that the account was born while she and a friend interned at an alpaca farm in high school. The farm had 15 alpacas, two crias, a St. Bernard, and a sheep named Gracie at the time. In between learning how to properly care for them and shear wool, the two pals would post photos of the animals to Instagram.
The social media platform was just starting to gain traction, the Alpacas of Instagram creator explained, so when she left for college she decided to keep up the account by reposting photographs from other people who used the hashtag #AlpacasofInstagram.
Using clever captions and quotes, the account tries to post at least one adorable alpaca photo or video a day. And Alpacas of Instagram also works to foster the online alpaca community by sharing content from smaller accounts to its nearly 180,000 followers followers.
"The engagement from followers has been amazing," the creator said, noting the hashtag currently has around 140,000 public posts. And while the attention and positive feedback is nice, she's ultimately just happy to help put the beloved animals in the spotlight.
"I am intentionally private about myself on the account," the account creator explained. "I started it because I wanted to share my love for these animals with the world, not so much myself ... I really enjoy giving a platform to these animals and their owners."
Alpacas' personalities, she explained, are what she loves most about the animals. "Yes they’re cute, and adorable, and fluffy, but they’re also really curious and sweet animals" that can be initially skeptical of people. "They can be really silly and awkward too, which is why I think they’re starting to have such a presence on social media ... They're these stupidly cute animals who do really awkward looking and hilarious things sometimes."
I first learned about the the Alpacas of Instagram account through alpaca lover Hilary Duff, whose boyfriend recently bought her an alpaca named Ivan for Valentine's Day. For now, though, Ivan has to live at the farm with his friends, since alpacas are happiest in herds and will quite literally die of loneliness without an alpaca friend nearby. Is that not the most precious thing you've ever heard?
Alpacas take on the Twitter-verse
Though alpacas clearly have a growing presence on Instagram, accounts for farms like Barnacre Alpacas, and individual herds like The Wooly Army have been stealing hearts on Twitter, too.
Paul and Debbie Rippon, the husband and wife team who run Barnacre Alpacas at Turpin's Hill Farm in Northumberland, UK, said they've gained nearly 16,000 followers since they started tweeting in January 2011.
"It's as much part of our farming day as feeding the alpacas," Debbie said when describing the farm's approach to social media. "We try to tweet every hour and include lots of pictures and videos."
Thanks to one of Michael Palin's travel programs, alpacas made their way onto Debbie's radar in the early 2000s. She and Paul then spent years researching the animals before buying their first three female alpacas in Feb. 2007. After more than a decade of learning, breeding, and expanding the family, they now have an impressive herd of 300 alpacas — one of the largest in the UK.
Barnacre Alpacas breed and sell alpacas, make their own knitwear, and host visits, events, and more. But the farm is also well known for providing a daily dose of hilarious and informative alpaca updates.
"They're such characters that it's very easy to invest a lot of time watching and learning all about them," Debbie said. "We know all 300 of ours by name — and they know their names too."
Emma Smalley and Terry Barlow, who run Alpacaly Ever After together, care for a herd of over eighty alpacas. They lovingly refer to the herd as "The Woolly Army," and created a Twitter account for the army back in 2015, which now has nearly 10,500 followers.
"We call them the 'Goonies of the alpaca world,'" Smalley said of The Woolly Army. "It doesn’t matter to us what they look like or if they have award winning fleece... they will always find a welcome home in our gang."
Smalley and Barlow said their main goal with social media is to let people around the world know how fascinating alpacas are.
"They all have incredibly individual personalities that are fascinating puzzles to work out if you spend the time and effort," Smalley said of the animals. "It’s lovely to have people invested in what we do and to feel a part of something bigger."
Why alpacas are worth a follow
For those of you who have yet to be convinced that alpacas can change your Twitter and Instagram feeds, I asked about the benefits of looking at alpacas through the social media lens.
"The obvious answer is that they are either stunningly gorgeous or spectacularly goofy, it really is hard to take a bad photo of an alpaca," Smalley of Alpacaly Ever After said. "But they are also an animal that is still mysterious and exotic to us."
Another main perk of following a professional alpaca account, is that you'll get to see a far more intimate side to the animals. The photos and videos of them are being captured by people they trust, in environments that bring them comfort, whereas if you were to visit the animals in real life they might take some time to warm up to you before revealing their looser, more playful sides.
"Some of our alpacas have lots of fans, like Curio who is an orphan and currently being bottle fed," Debbie Rippon of Barnacre Alpacas explained. "If we have a poorly alpaca we get lots of love and support from our followers."
Rippon said the farm receives an overwhelming number of positive messages on social media, and people take the time to thank them for helping improve their mental wellbeing or brighten up their days.
So next time you're searching for a safe haven on social media, go ahead and give the alpacas a chance.
via Mashable http://bit.ly/2DCFv97
February 13, 2019 at 01:15PM