Is Your Animal Rescue Social Media Savvy?
Your online presence says a lot to potential adopters, supporters, and donors. Getting the right message out to your followers means finding the right forever homes for the animals in your care. With that in mind, it’s time to give your social media strategy a check-up. Your organization’s social media presence gives people their first impression of your organization. Let’s make sure it says what you want it to say.
When you’re up to your armpits in puppy puke, trying to stop a gaggle of cats from climbing the curtains, while taking a call from a vet who has some difficult news, it can be hard to keep your head on straight, let alone pump out coherent social media messages. That’s why you should keep it simple and short, and ALWAYS include a link to your website. Your website should have all the information about your organization, contact email and phone numbers, and office hours, or how people can arrange to meet the pet.
Short clear messages with a link to follow are easy to read, easy to follow, and easy to act on. Be sure to include a flattering photo, perhaps a puppy with a toy, a happy dog out for a walk, or the cat curdled up for a cozy nap. While pictures are worth a thousand words, videos are worth millions! With a smartphone or tablet, you can easy load sweet short videos that will not only capture the attention of your followers, but will also have more of a chance to go viral.
If your social media posts are all over the place and unplanned, it can be hard to follow what’s going on with your organization. Consider using folders on sites to arrange pictures of adoptable animals together – Facebook makes it simple with its Photo Albums feature. If it’s an important post, pin it to the top of your page so users can find it. Keep your posts organized so that everyone can follow along. Not sure how it looks from an outsider’s perspective? A trusted volunteer can offer advice on how each your profile’s content is to navigate.
Social media can be a wonderful tool… unfortunately it can also be full of people acting like complete tools. Your organization must decide what comments you wish to be displayed on your content, and what type of comments you want to get rid of. A just “leave it alone” policy might avoid some short term drama, but serves as an open invitation to more drama down the road. See any nasty comments? Nip them in the bud before they have a chance to bloom.
When it comes to actual rescues, you will run into some really horrible situations. While it can be expected people will have strong reactions to strong content, posts that are more “grab the torches and pitchforks, and storm the castle” do little to help in the situation, and may leave a sour taste in some supporters’ mouths. It’s easy to judge, especially from behind a computer screen. It’s important to share the nature of your work with your followers, but be aware of the messaging behind sad photos. Before you post, make sure that your message evokes a positive response.
Not everyone is in a position to adopt, foster, volunteer, or donate. That may change down the road, but right now these people can still be an asset to your organization. Some of these people become your followers on social media and spread your message to co-workers and friends. At the lunch table, someone mentions they are looking for a new cat to join their family, and wouldn’t you know, your social media follower just saw a post this morning about the perfect cat!
With properly updated information on your social media posts, it’s easy to connect pets to their forever families. And with every update, you need to monitor the message. It’s unprofessional not to respond to messages from hopeful adopters if a pet is still available. When a featured pet is adopted, let your followers know in the same update and in a new update.
At least once a week, try to post new pictures for an animal who is looking for a home. By keeping your followers updated on the animal’s story, you’re allowing them to connect emotionally and their adoption journey. They may not be the right match for the pet, but if they make a connection, they will help you find the perfect forever home by sharing with their networks. When an animal finds their forever home, be sure to post an update of the new forever family. Everyone loves a happy ending.
If you are in doubt, follow your followers. Their responses will tell you what is working and what isn’t.
Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!
More by Kevin Roberts