Why All Animal Shelters Should be on Social Media

When is the last time you heard the song “In the Arms of an Angel?”

drtv-2006-sarah-mclachlan

quickmeme.com

 

If you love animals, chances are the ASPCA’s commercial featuring Sarah McLachlan’s famous song pulled at your heart strings. But did you start donating? Did you run out to the closest animal shelter to adopt a sad kitten or left behind puppy? Or did you just move on with your day after your fleeting sad feeling?

Before social media, nonprofit agencies, such as Humane Societies and Animal Rescue Leagues, would have to rely on traditional media and word of mouth to attract volunteers, fosters, and potential adopters. Thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, that has all changed.

Most likely are you are an animal lover. Who isn’t?! This means there is a good chance you follow at least one animal shelter on social media. Just off the top of your head, how many times can you count seeing a post like this pop up on your newsfeed?

Miami Dogs FB

Or this?

BDRR tweet

Or how about this?

Peggy Insta

We’ve all seen the posts and the pleas, but not every post can be the same if an Animal Rescue really wants to make the most of social media.

One Reason, Three Ways

Social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have become the perfect platform for animal rescues to spread the word and gain support for their cause. The reason is simple- visibility.

As of early 2016, Facebook reports 1.6 billion users, Instagram boasts 400 million subscribers, and Twitter has attracted 320 million users (source). While there is no way a picture of Fido is going to be seen by every user ever to grace these websites, when used correctly, these sites really do allow for maximum visibility. But how?

Education

If you work or volunteer in an animal rescue, you know that it isn’t all just about emptying the kennels. Of course you want the public to know about how many animals you have and who is available for adoption, but when these animals are finally placed in their forever homes, you want it to actually be forever. This means teaching people what is necessary when it comes to animal care. Whether it’s offering articles about the importance of vaccinations, providing information about spay/neuter clinics, listing where to find the best boarding options, or simply mentioning that your rescue is a resource of information for new and potential owners, educating the public is a big deal. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all great ways to let the public know that your rescue really does care, and providing status updates (pictures included!) is a great way to draw more attention to these topics.

Peggy Adams FB

Donations

It’s not easy being a nonprofit organization, but thankfully social media is a big voice that shouts for free. Big donors usually fund major parts of animal rescue leagues, but you can’t knock on their door every time there is a shortage of training treats or a special surgery needed for a new rescue. Thankfully, all those animal lovers online are the perfect audience if you really are in need. With social media, even though your target audience for adoptions, volunteers, and fosters might be in a certain radius, those willing to donate know no distance. All it takes is one good social media share for someone in Texas to contribute to knee surgery for Fluffy in Florida.

BDRR FB

Action

Last but definitely not least, social media becomes the perfect platform to call on your community to make a difference. Hosting a walk? Advertise it! Need more volunteers? Ask for them! Need a short term foster situation? Use social media to explain the situation. Chances are you have more followers and page likes than you actually have volunteers, which means there are people interested in your cause but possibly not able to step up all the time. You’ve just got to call them to action when you need it most.

Why Strategy Matters

You’ve got to walk a fine line when sharing with the community about animals in need of saving. Not every post can be urgent or heartbreaking or you will risk losing followers. Thankfully, The Humane Society issued a set of guidelines to help out their fellow animal rescues find forever homes via social media (see infographic below).

Infographic

Additional Resources

Still not sure if you are ready to catapult your animal rescue into the vast world of social media? That’s okay. I’ve tracked down some more tips, tricks, and best practices from the professionals.

  1. Chad from Social360 offers some great tips on what exactly to share on every social media site, from Pinterest to Google+, blogs, Instagram, and Twitter. He even offers advice on website management and email marketing. Check out his article here.
  2. Taylor Downs, a Digital Marketing Manager, wrote a great blog “4 Social Media Tips for Animal Shelters” that is short and sweet, but really focuses on how social media is important for all nonprofit organizations. Find that here.
  3. Lastly, The Huffington Post published a great article a couple years ago that gave some awesome examples on actual animal rescues that benefitted from adding social media networking to their toolbox to help save lives. Check that article out here.

Last Thought

Remember, it’s not a competition, but it is a mission. The end goal is to save as many animals lives as possible, and social media is a great tool to connect those animals in need of homes with people able to provide a safe haven and good life for furbabies everywhere.

Baby-Hugging-Cat

giphy.com

 

Target Audience:

Animal rescue volunteers and facilitators, social media managers, content creators and journalism students.

Sources:

http://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/shelters-use-social-media-strategy-find-homes-pets/205262

https://www.facebook.com/bigdogranchrescue/

https://www.facebook.com/PeggyAdamsARL/

https://www.facebook.com/urgentdogsofmiami/

http://www.instagram.com/bigdogranchrescue

https://www.instagram.com/peggyadamsrl

https://twitter.com/BDRRescue

 

Facebook, the News, and the Future

What contribution do you think Facebook will make to news in the next 5 years?

Today, anyone who logs into their Facebook account on a computer is able to view Instant Articles, a compilation of topics and news stories that are currently trending on the social media website, as seen below. For now, this feature is not yet available on the mobile app, and I can only imagine this push will be happening sooner rather than later as people stray from desktops to mobile only.

 

Capture

Photo: Facebook.com

 

As for the future of news on Facebook, I trust that Facebook will only continue to develop greater applications for journalists to not only research news topics, but share. I would not be surprised for the side bar that now lists the Instant Articles to grow to include videos from the original journalists who have broken such stories.

On Facebook and Instagram mobile applications, users scroll past sponsored posts daily. I think Facebook would be smart to start to include short compilation videos of trending news stories, whether locally, nationally, or globally, as well as these random sponsored advertisements.

Insta SPonsored

Photo: Instagram.com

 

 

Are traditional news publishers losing control? Does Mark Zuckerberg have too much power?

I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg is looking to take over as the number one provider of news, but instead I think he is trying to develop tools that allow Facebook and Instagram users an even better opportunity to stay connected to the world around them. News publishers still have power, as long as they choose to adapt to how people are ingesting stories today.

Is Facebook the digital age’s answer to the printing press or TV transmitter as a means of distribution?

Times are changing, there is no denying that, but I don’t think you can write off print, television, and radio quite yet. Maybe it is because my first job out of college was working as a marketing assistant for a company that produced traffic reports in Washington D.C., but I always think about the times where people are not able to be plugged into a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Making breakfast or dinner for a family is when a television might be playing with the local CBS affiliate, and commuting an hour to work on the highway is probably when the local ABC station broadcasts news, weather, and traffic reports. While digital may be the most popular way to distribute news to an audience, it should not be considered the sole answer to distribution.

dying_medium

Photo: Stickycomics.com

 

Will the “snackable” nature of Facebook content lead to less news consumption or a greater awareness of what is happening in our world?

I will admit that because of Facebook, I feel that I am much more aware of events happening in our world. Even special interest stories that may not be in my immediate area sometimes catch my attention and allow me to learn something new. Whether searching or stumbling, content shared on Facebook really can make a difference to a person when they take the time to soak in the information. The world becomes smaller online when so many people are able to connect and share stories and photos, but a smaller world isn’t always a bad thing.

snackable_content

Photo: SocialMediaWeek.org

 

I think the term “snackable” is a perfect term to describe the stories users come across, but I think this content is educating people, therefore bringing more awareness.

 

Target Audience- MMC6725, social media gurus, marketing professionals, avid Facebook users, young professionals.

Written to be shared on – Twitter, Facebook, Blog.

Shared via Twitter.

 

How to be Popular on Facebook: Which Companies Know How to Post

Learning how to correctly brand on social media takes a lot of trial and error. When it comes to Facebook specifically, there are many big dog companies that seem to have figured this out early on and now have a knack for circulating posts across millions of users’ newsfeeds. Below are the top three brands that had the most-shared posts on Facebook in October 2015.

Buzzfeed

What they do right:

For starters, there isn’t just one Buzzfeed Facebook Page. While the popular website does specifically brand on one page, they have several other Facebook pages that are extensions of their brand, such as Buzzfeed Video, Buzzfeed BFF, Buzzfeed Food, etc. Anyone familiar with this website knows that it purely is for entertainment, and entertaining posts definitely have the ability to gain traction on social media. According to an article on SocialMediaExaminer.com, posts can’t be boring if you want them to be shared, and Buzzfeed rarely posts anything boring. Most of their posts actually consist of lists relatable to most people, including an image from the list as well as quote or line from the list.

What you can learn from them:

Having a lot of followers is important if you want to share with a lot of people, but to get you posts shared, make sure they are entertaining and relatable. Lists are an easy and great way to make people feel like you understand them, and when a person can relate to something so easily they are more likely to share it with someone else they know relates as well. This builds relationships between you and your followers, and then between your followers and who they share with.

Buzzfeed FB

HuffingtonPost.com

What they do right:

The Huffington Post is no stranger to posting articles with lists also, but what else they post are interesting stories that more than likely won’t be picked up by national or local news stations. Dabbling in politics, science, entertainment, and special interest, Huffington Post always uses bold headlines and quotes from stories to engage an audience online. They also post something new just about every hour, keeping their feed fresh and full of broad news.

What you can learn from them:

Posting often is important. This not only shows that you are engaged online, but it establishes a level of trust with anyone that may follow you showing that social media is a great way to keep up-to-date or in contact with you and your brand.

Huffington FB

FoxNews.com

What they do right:

As a well-known media and news station, there is no denying that Fox News falls a certain way when it comes to certain political issues and how they report them, on-air or off. On Facebook, these views are maintained, and followers can trust that the articles posted by Fox News are likely to share their same views. SocialMediaToday.com argues that “people care about causes more than brands” and FoxNews uses this on Facebook to post controversial stories that are sure to get people talking and sharing. They also use relevant and images for each story, as well as an important quote to gain more interest in each article.

What you can learn from them:

As a brand, you may want to be careful with what you share or post when it comes to controversial issues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t post something you know will have a lot of meaning to your audience. It’s very important to walk that line, but like it’s mentioned above, people care about causes and are more willing to share something that resonates with their beliefs.

Fox News FB

 

Yes, these all are well known an established brands, but that doesn’t mean what they do can’t be applied to smaller brands looking to market and circulate on social media. Growing an online presence takes time and dedication, but a little tweaking to what and how you post on Facebook can take you from barely noticed to popping up on millions of newsfeeds in no time. Lists, images, entertaining articles, and stories that mean something can really increase shares on Facebook, but always remember to post often to remain relevant and reliable.

 

Target Audience: Social Media and News class, new brand marketers, young professionals in the marketing field 18-34 yrs old.

Social Media Shared: Twitter, Facebook

Sources:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/9-reasons-why-your-content-is-not-shared-on-social-networks-new-research/

https://www.facebook.com/FoxNews/

https://www.facebook.com/HuffingtonPost/?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/BuzzFeed/?fref=ts