Photos by: Susan Schmitz / Shutterstock
Thanks to social media, animal rescues are able to reach new audiences and spread their message around the world. If your local rescue isn’t up to speed, you can help her out with these great social tips.
Your online presence says a lot to potential adopters, sponsors, and donors. Communicating the right message to your followers means finding right forever homes for the animals in your care. With that in mind, it’s time to give your social media strategy a check. Your organization’s presence on social networks gives people their first impression of your organization. Let’s make sure he says what you need to say.
When you’re reaching for your vomiting puppy’s armpits, trying to stop a coterie of cats from climbing the curtains, while getting a call from a vet with some tough news, it can be hard to keep your head straight, let alone pump out coherent social media messages. This is why you should keep it simple and short, and always include a link back to your website. Your website should have all the information about your organization, contact email, phone numbers, hours of operation, or how people can arrange to meet the pet.
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Clear SMS messages with a follow-up link are easy to read, easy to follow, and easy to act on. Be sure to include a surprising photo, perhaps a puppy with a toy, a happy dog going for a walk, or a cat snuggling up for a relaxing nap. While pictures are worth a thousand words, videos are worth millions! With a smartphone or tablet, you can easily upload your sweet short videos that will not only grab the attention of your followers but also stand a higher chance of going viral.
If your social media posts are all over the place and unplanned, it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on with your organization. Consider using folders on sites to put together photos of adoptable animals — Facebook makes it simple with the Photo Albums feature. If it’s an important message, put it at the top of your page so users can find it. Keep your posts organized so everyone can follow along. Not sure how it will look from a third party perspective? A trusted volunteer can provide advice on how to navigate your profile content.
Social media can be a great tool…unfortunately it can also be full of people acting like total tools. Your organization must decide which comments you want to show on your content, and what kind of comments you want to get rid of. The “leave her alone” policy may stave off some short-term drama, but it serves as an open invitation to more drama down the road. See any bad comments? Nip it in the bud before it has a chance to blossom.
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When it comes to actual rescue, you will face some really horrific situations. While it’s expected that people will have strong reactions to powerful content, posts that “grab the torches and gilts, storm the castle” do little to help the situation, and may leave a painful taste for some of the most loyal supporters. 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 beware of the messages behind sad images. Before posting, make sure your post elicits a positive response.
Not everyone is in a position to adopt, foster, volunteer, or donate. That may change down the road, but for now, these people can be a resource for your organization. Some of these people become your followers on social media and spread your message to co-workers and friends. At lunch, someone mentions that they are looking for a new cat to join their family, and you didn’t know it. One of your social media followers saw your 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 keep an eye on the message. It is unprofessional not to reply to messages from fans followers if a pet is still available. When you adopt a featured pet, let your followers know in the same update and in a new update.
At least once a week, try to post new photos of an animal looking for a home. By keeping your followers updated on the animal’s story, you can allow them to connect emotionally and on their adoption journey. They may not be a suitable match for the pet, but if they do connect, they will help you find the perfect forever home by sharing with their networks. When an animal finds its forever home, be sure to post an update on a new forever family. Everyone loves a happy ending.
If in doubt, follow your followers. Their responses will tell you what works and what doesn’t.