Social Media Best Practices
By Emily Garman
Connecting with potential adopters, donors and volunteers online can help develop lasting relationships. Learn the basics of social engagement, and you’ll help more pets find homes, help increase donations and find awesome volunteers.
FIND YOUR AUDIENCE: How do you know which social network(s) your donors, volunteers and adopters are using? ASK them! While you’re at it, ask them what kind of content they’d like to see. Ask as a poll on Facebook or Twitter, or even create an online survey using SurveyMonkey.com, a simple, free tool that helps you create surveys in minutes. When you know what your supporters want from you, you can give them more of it—and they’ll be more engaged and loyal if you do!
BE HUMAN: People join Facebook to connect with their friends and families, not with companies, so make sure you communicate like a real person.
GO BEYOND LIKES: Facebook success isn’t about how many friends you have or how many likes you get; it’s about actions. Do your fans do what you want them to do? Do you reach out to them so that they come back to your page?
INTERACT & ENGAGE: You must be relevant, interesting, concise and responsive. Plus, you must add value. Interact, ask for input, and make sure social media and Petfinder links are on all of your materials, including emails, websites and event registration pages.
BE RESPONSIVE: Even if you’ve answered the same question a million times, answer it again. Answer absolutely everyone and answer them in a timely manner.
SHARE SUCCESSES: Social media is a great way to show people how their time, money and efforts are making a difference. Be sure to close the loop on fundraising and report back to your supporters.
SHARE, SHARE, SHARE: Facebook users love to feel engaged. Post photos, videos and competitions (just make sure you know Facebook’s rules). Also, beware of autoposting your Twitter feed onto Facebook (or vice versa). This will make your fans feel less valued and may prevent your posts from being seen. The Petfinder scroller and sharing options make posting pets a breeze!
FIND YOUR BALANCE: People are becoming inundated by corporate, branded Facebook posts. If you take over your fans’ feeds, they’ll unlike you because they’ll feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, if you never use your page, fans will be uninspired, and you’ll be missing out on an opportunity to energize them. Find the right balance.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU: If your fans want to read all about you, they’ll go to your website. Use Facebook to interact and provide personalized responses, even to FAQs. Do not use it to push a message too hard, beg or post depressing photos. Be sure to include links back to your Petfinder pet page so you can track views!
Emily Garman has been a foster mom and animal welfare volunteer for 20 years and founded TheSocialAnimal.com in 2008 to teach animal advocates how to use social media to raise money, recruit volunteers and save more lives. She presents on next-generation fundraising, social media and internet marketing all over North America.