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

 

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Florida Kids and Family Expo IMC

expo blog pic1

About

The Florida Kids and Family Expo is an event that is being put together and hosted by My Central Florida Family– an organization that strides to be a one stop informative shop for families to find activities, events, and opportunities in the Central Florida/Orlando area. The Expo will be an annual event featuring live entertainment, 150 exhibitors, interactive stations, and more, held at the Orange County Convention Center each fall (source). This year the event will be held the weekend of August 29th– 30th and will host exhibitors ranging from party venues to schools, health services to camps. Entertainment will include live animals, bounce houses, meet and greets, and more. My Central Florida Family plans to host an event that is interactive for kids and informative for parents, all for less than the cost of taking the family to the movies.

Target Audience

To market the Florida Kids and Family Expo is to market to all families, traditional or not, mostly in the Central Florida area, but really anywhere. This event plans to appeal to school-aged children (0-17 years old), and their parents, grandparents, etc. This event is not limited to any families of any certain income, or any families in any certain area, though it most likely will fit best for families in Orlando and the surrounding areas. The event also plans to market to businesses that have the same target audience and therefore provide goods and services to families in Central Florida. Marketing to these businesses is a win/win for My Central Florida Family because they can increase available information for families while the business can potentially increase sales.

  • Strengths: The Florida Kids and Family Expo is a one of a kind event in the Central Florida area. At this time there is nothing that can compare in size or in the amount of exhibitors. This is a huge strength for the event because they have the chance to create an annual expo that will bring together all the best businesses and organizations as a great resource for families. This can become an event that not only families will look forward to, but current and future exhibitors as well. Being able to pull from the great businesses that market with My Central Florida Family is huge and should help make this event stand out as organized and well thought out.
  • Opportunities: This expo has the opportunity to capitalize on being one-of-a-kind. Promoting a family-friendly environment with a fun, interactive, and informative atmosphere, and out of the hot Florida sun is a big deal. This year’s goal is 15,000 attendees, but if this grows each year over, the event has the opportunity to spread to other parts of Florida as well.

Why should Florida Kids and Family Expo use an IMC Strategy?

“Integrated Marketing Communications is a simple concept. It ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together.” – MultiMediaMarketing.com

Having a strong IMC Strategy is key when putting together such a large event. If every channel marketing the expo is not on the same page, the message may come across as skewed or confusing and the event will look amateur and unorganized. A unified message will have a greater impact.

The blending of online and offline tools would provide the Florida Kids and Family Expo the ability to set themselves up so that it would be impossible for any future competition to stand a chance. I’ve already pointed out that being the first expo of its kind is a huge strength for Florida Kids and Family Expo, but it will be a strong IMC strategy that will keep them that way. Just like Dwight Griesman, Chief Marketing Officer at Forrester, stated- “it is not about bricks or clicks, but bricks and clicks” (source).Using traditional media (newspaper ads, radio ads, television commercials, billboards, etc.) as well as social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and additional mass media efforts (banner ads, email blasts, flyers, etc.) with all the same message and branding will increase reach which should help increase ROI and hit the goal of 15,000 attendees.

The use of correct marketing strategies can make or break an event such as this. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make sure a strong message is sent out and received by the target audience. It’s more than just use of the same colors, but keywords and phrases, images, sounds, and overall feel of the campaign that make a message come across as well thought out and professional.

red hot

Incorporating face-to-face interaction at the Red, Hot and Boom celebration on the 4th of July will not only help market the Florida Kids and Family Expo, but will increase brand awareness for My Central Florida Family. By providing a small preview of what the future event will be, future attendees can be confident that this event will be worth their time and money.

Including mobile marketing as well as billboards and radio advertisements will only further promote the Florida Kids and Family Expo.The more people that hear about the company and their efforts to provide great information to families, the better social media sites, websites, and events including the Expo will perform.

My Central Florida Family and the Florida Kids and Family Expo have a lot of great things going for them. With a little TLC to their Twitter and Facebook pages, a set up at the Red, Hot, and Boom,  and the use of a few additional advertising techniques, they definitely have the opportunity to bring in the 15,000 attendee to their big event at the end of August.

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XYZ Company

XYZ Company, a heating and cooling company located in Western Massachusetts, is a new business that has taken on the social media world. I think taking a good look at the analytics provided for the week of March 11, 2015 for XYZ’s Facebook page will show that the small HVAC company has a lot of potential.

With XYZ being a new company, I greatly applaud their engagement activity. As you can see below, in this particular week they are consistently increasing likes as well as their total reach each week over. For having less than 200 page likes, the engagement level for this growing company is rather impressive.

Analytics 1

My views of XYZ’s Facebook analytics is that the company is growing on social media. I can see from their recent posts that they are currently running a special, but even without this special I believe that they will continue to increase in likes and the amount of people their posts reach for several weeks just due to the fact that they are new to the Facebook community. Chances are they already have several fans outside of social media, it just takes time for these fans to discover companies on Facebook and actually like their page.

Facebook’s analytics show that XYZ Company’s Facebook page reaches more men than women, but it’s liked by more women than men. These statistics are always important to consider so that the company knows who to gear their posts more towards. Age and location are always important also, and as expected, the majority of XYZ’s fans are 26+ years old and in the immediate Massachusetts area.

Analytics 4

Analytics 5

Now, onto XYZ’s actual Facebook post.

On February 27th XYZ posted “March Mini Split madness is here!…” and hit a maximum reach of 3.5k people. They again followed up with a similar post on March 15th but only received a reach of 731 people. What should be noted though is that even with the reach being a fifth of their first post, they still had some of the strongest engagement numbers over many of their other posts. Clearly this March special they are offering is a big deal, and it gains a lot of attention. XYZ should make note of this for the future. If the announcements of specials and giveaways continues to yield high engagement numbers and reach, it could pay off for them to continue marketing in this way.

One great thing that XYZ Company can take away from this breakdown is that the majority of their page likes come from ads, therefore that part of their IMC campaign is definitely working. But there is only one time that someone found their Facebook page from an external site. This is great information! This means that XYZ Company has the ability to increase how people find their Facebook page, and the ways to do so are infinite. In addition to their Facebook page, XYZ Company is active on Twitter, Google+, and Yelp. They could use these sites, as well as their main website, to cross promote and increase the amount of external referrals. XYZ Company also markets their business with direct mail, which they could consider adding social media icons on to let their current and potential customers know they can be found on social media. Email blasts, as well as banner ads promoted strategically on other websites (local newspaper website, radio websites, etc.) could also link to XYZ’s Facebook page and help to increase these numbers as well as overall page likes.

Analytics 2

Analytics 3

Overall, XYZ Company is on the right track. The first thing they should focus on is increasing the number of page likes they have. The more page likes XYZ Company has, the stronger the company will look and the more likely their SEO will increase as well. An article on Meltwater.com points out some of the best ways to increase Facebook likes for a new business. The number one thing they say about increasing likes is “to achieve success on Facebook you need a community” (source). XYZ Company is already following a lot of these suggestions, such as posting quality content that is relative to their company and running a contest, but they should also be sure to interact with similar businesses on Facebook as well as ask their current friends, business partners, and customers to like their page.

With more page likes comes increased engagement. Setting social media goals should definitely be a priority for XYZ Company. Whether this goal be to increase reach to 5000 people, or to hit 500 page likes by the end of the year, striving for these goals will only help boost how strong their Facebook page is, and probably their other social media channels as well. An article by Constant Contact suggests that using a Facebook business page can help small businesses get discovered by their next big partner/customer, therefore using Facebook strategically is critical XYZ Company, and I think they are definitely on the right track (source).

Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and Target

This week’s brands are brought to you by my typical weekend indulgences- Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and a place you can usually find both, Target.

How a brand uses their social media accounts is very important. Each brand can have a different approach to how they drive traffic, which content they use, or whether or not they use hashtags, but the key to successful social media marketing is consistently updating content on each site. Below is a short evaluation on three brands of my choosing.

Starbucks

This week Starbucks released two new flavored lattes, the tiramisu latte and the caramel flan latte. On Tuesday February 17th they posted the same picture (see below) with the hashtags #tiramisulatte, #caramelflanlatte, and #starbucksdate on Facebook, Instagram and Google+, and the following day on Twitter. The descriptions all were a bit different, Google+ saying “The sweetest moments we share,” Instagram saying “Hearts warmed and taste buds tickled,” and Facebook saying “Coffee date? Dessert Date? Both, please” but they were all short, sweet, and effective. Starbucks is not a brand that uses social media to push for sales. Instead, they use creative and enticing wording to share their product, provide information, as well as connect with their customers.

Starbucks pic1

An evaluation of Starbuck’s social media websites will prove that they are very consistent in the messages and imagery they use. I do not just mean in how the portray themselves across each website, but in how they overall represent their brand. Twitter is their most used platform, updating statuses at least once a day if not more, and retweeting pictures or comments made by fans. Instagram and Facebook are updated about five times a week on average, if not more often (based on past 3 months). Google+ looks to be the least updated social media site, though there are posts once to twice a week.

Starbucks collage1

It is on Facebook that Starbucks provides the most amount of information for a consumer. They include a map that lists nearby locations, as well as links to Pinterest and YouTube, an International tab, and even an Open Jobs tab. The ability to access YouTube and Pinterest through Facebook is the only way I have found that Starbucks drives their audience to other sites. But the company definitely uses hashtags across all sites. Almost all status updates include a picture as well as a hashtag, such as #StarbucksDate (for Valentine’s Day), #StarbucksGiftCard (popular around Christmas), or simply whatever the beverage may be, #caramelfrappe, #flatwhite, etc.

Starbucks pic2.jpg

On Twitter, Starbucks has multiple handles, including @StarbucksNews, @StarbucksJobs, @Frappuccino, as well as different handles for certain countries, like @StarbucksRussia, @StarbucksPeru, etc. These help the company connect with their audiences in a more specific way. They obviously are big about providing value for their fans instead of just pushing products in their face. And it seems to work. Their willingness to connect on each platform with consumers while providing consistent marketing has their popular social media sites, as well as others like LinkedIn and Pinterest, growing daily.

Ben & Jerry’s

If you aren’t familiar with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, you must be a rare individual who has never had a bad day or a sweet-tooth. Just in case you are one of those rare people, here is the short version- Ben & Jerry’s is a Vermont based company that specializes in very awesome ice cream. Their infamous pints and flavors can be found at most grocery stores, and they even have stores set up in several cities across the United States.

B&J pic1

Ben & Jerry’s does not have quite as large of a following as Starbuck’s does, but they definitely are pretty popular on social media sites. Should you log onto any of the social sites the company is active on it is very obvious that they do not just share pictures on ice cream cones. In fact, several of the posts found on Twitter and Facebook are related to environmental projects and causes. Their company is focused on making a profit, but also by helping create a better world. On the flip side, Ben & Jerry’s is very creative and therefore increases brand awareness by allowing celebrities to create ice-cream flavors. For example, this week Jimmy Fallon’s flavor was released- Late Night Dough. Other popular flavors linked to the entertainment world include Americone Dream (for Stephen Colbert), Wayne’s Swirled (for Wayne’s World), and Cherry Garcia (for Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead).

B&J collage 1

It is almost as if Ben & Jerry’s has three different brand voices- one that is focused on the environment, one that is focused on creativity and social relevance, and one that is focused on good ice-cream that everyone young and old can enjoy. Each of these voices are very much recognized on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and even Pinterest and LinkedIn. If Ben & Jerry’s is posting about an environmental event on Facebook, they are sure to post on Twitter and Instagram also so that their message of the day is clearly spread out but consistent. The company definitely uses hashtags in almost every status they post on each social site, but the only way they seem to drive people to other social sites is by driving them to their homepage, BenJerry.com, which then includes widgets of each social media site.

B&J collage 2

One thing that is worth noting is that even on Instagram and Pinterest, Ben & Jerry’s uses creative photos that are sure to be more eye-catching than just the same old bowl of ice cream or ice cream cone. The company is very successful in capturing their audience’ attention by posting creative, out-of-the-box pictures of their products, such as the picture below on Instagram three weeks ago.

B&J pic3

Target

Target offers so many products that their social media content has to be more about how they want to appear online than about what it is they are putting out to the world. Active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and even Vine, the retail giant had to be sure to be very up-to-date, consistent, and relevant with each post so to appeal to the enormous audience they have gained.

Target collage 1

Since they offer so many different products, just like Starbucks, Target has multiple Twitter handles to better appeal to a target audience. @TargetStyle is for fashionistas, @TargetDeals is for those looking to get the best deals during their shopping, and @TargetNews is about the important company news that most shoppers most likely are not as interested in. On Facebook as well as on Twitter, Target is very big on connecting and replying to their audience, answering any questions that people may ask.

What I find very interesting about Target is that they do not post the same image and status across all social media sites. This week, Instagram and Facebook have posts about #CabinFeverHack (due to the terrible weather in much of the country) while Twitter has many additional updates, including a post about Reese’s Easter Eggs and yesterday’s National Love your Pet Day. When I searched for Target on Google+, I was immediately directed to their YouTube videos, and though their videos are recent, their posts for Google+ are very outdated.

Facebook is definitely the Target social media site to provide the most amount of information, even if it isn’t updated quite as often as Twitter. They offer not only maps to the closest store, but also product recalls, links to other Target Facebook pages that are more specific (just like the Twitter handles), and a tab for Target Coupons. Just like Ben & Jerry’s, Target links all photos to their website, which then includes widget of each social media site they are active on. Hashtags are definitely used on Twitter and Instagram, but not so much on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.

Target collage 2

Overall, Target is very active on each site, with the exception of Google+. They keep their content up-to-date, they post often, and they also do not just use their sites to bombard fans with products saying “Buy! Buy! Buy!” They use very colorful pictures and gifs with each status, they post similar content on each site, and they use each social media site to connect to their audiences worldwide.

Conclusion

Each of these three brands has a different approach to how they use their social media sites. Starbucks and Target definitely post more often than Ben & Jerry’s and use the same imagery and message across multiple sites, but Ben & Jerry’s uses their social media platforms to share information about the company’s environmental values with fans worldwide. All three have strong integrated media communication plans, use hashtags effectively, though differently, but overall are very much using the advantages of social media by having two-way conversations with their fans.