In recent years, Neko Cat Café has gained a large following on both TikTok and Instagram for their creative and fun videos showcasing the cats’ personalities. The social media accounts share content of cats from both the Seattle and Bellingham locations. The café’s Instagram page has over 103K followers and their TikTok account has gained a following of over 345.5K adoring cat fanatics.
“The nice thing about the videos and stories is people feel like they get to know the kitties before they come in and meet them, especially our resident cats, like Elvira at our Seattle location. She’s been featured several times, including through October for Elvira season. She has been a very fun one. And then people come in and they’re huge Elvira fans,” said Rae Kearns the MarCating Meownager at Neko Cat Café.
The cute cat content that Kearns posts on the café’s social media has brought in a lot of fans, improving the cats’ adoption rates. Most of the cats are fosters from Regional Animal Services of King County, with a majority of the cats being adoptable.
Kearns continues on about some fan favorite cats. Followers have come in to visit some of these feline celebrities after getting to know their personalities online, some even requesting merchandise for the cats.
"[It’s] the same thing with a couple of our residents in Bellingham, like Chloe and Ringo, who've been featured a few times, and people get so excited to see them they act like they're little celebrities, which is delightful because they're just smelly little friends," she said.
Neko Cat Café hosts around 40 cats between the two locations with Kearns as the lead of the social media campaigns for both. Over 330 cats have been adopted since March 2022, according to an article by Cascadia Daily News.
“One of the neat things about digital marketing is it allows small businesses to look big. And so then, in that case, it often makes big businesses look insincere,” said Mark Staton, an associate professor who teaches a digital marketing course at Western.
With the new age of digital marketing, social media has given businesses the ability to be relatable to a broader audience, more so than ever before. With outreach being much wider, smaller businesses like Neko Cat Café can gain the attention of people everywhere.
“Social media marketing is really a good form of branding, and the companies that do it really well show the inside of the business, which makes the business more relatable,” Staton said.
Local small business owners are now using social media marketing tactics to gain the attention of customers. While traditional marketing methods made it difficult to gain an audience, social media algorithms have made it much easier to do so without spending large sums of money.
“The nice thing about algorithms is the cat café can target specific people in the area who use social media and like cat videos,” Staton said.
Social media now allows businesses to reach out to people in their target demographics due to what they’re already interested in viewing online. Marketing has become more accurate than ever by only catering directly to people who care about the content.
“The biggest thing you as a business owner can [do is] create digital tools that bring in potential customers to you, as opposed to us sending messages out to people who may not be particularly interested. So the cat café is in a really cool position,” Staton said.
With the fun and relatable content posted to the Neko Cat Café social media, they have many recurring and new visitors to see the cats and enjoy their selection of food and drinks.
“One of my friends brought me to Neko about a year ago, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever been to. I will definitely be back,” said Nat Fawcett-Long, a recent visitor of Neko Cat Café Seattle.
Although Neko Cat Café does not make revenue through social media, it has received a lot of financial support through merch sold on its website. People who love and follow the lives of the resident cats provide much of this support.
“It’s so funny how many people [who] are so far away and would never really plan to come to us are really invested in specific cats, and it’s just super fun,” Kearns said.
The café has branched out into making merchandise for their specific resident cats for both virtual and real-life fans.
“In terms of the café, I’d say make a reservation. It’s a party and a half,” Kearns said. “We are just really, really lucky to get to have a cool, kind, loving community that comes in and sees us, and we’re grateful for it online and in person.”
Click here for more photos at Neko Cat Café.
Jase Picanso (he/him) is a city life reporter for The Front. He is a third-year student majoring in Public Relations. His work focuses on local events, organizations, resources and community perspective and experiences on current world topics.
You can contact him at Jasepicanso.firstname.lastname@example.org