You dutifully update your Petfinder listings and your shelter or rescue group’s Facebook page. You hold adoption events, and run creative ads. Still, your adoption rates seem to have a hit a plateau. What’s left to try?
Try using social media to target the large number of pet lovers who don’t think, interact and use the Internet the way your current adopter base does, suggests social media consultant Christie Keith.
“If we want to adopt more pets than we’re currently adopting, we need to get our message out to people we’re not currently reaching,” she advises.
How can shelters and rescue groups do that?
“In social media, one of the best ways is to try targeting your message to people who have interests compatible with pet ownership, but not about pet ownership.
“For example, if you use the social media site Pinterest – which you should, as it’s the fastest-growing social site in history, and widely used by a demographic that’s great for pet ownership – create pinboards around an activity that is popular on Pinterest already, and don’t list them in the Animals category – list them in the category for that activity.
“Have a lot of young, active, bigger dogs? Target outdoors enthusiasts, bikers and runners. Have lots of senior cats? Target people interested in books or crafts. Kitten season? Pinterest is all about shareable images, and there really is nothing more shareable than photos of kittens playing with balls of yarn – especially if you target people interested in knitting.”
On Twitter, says Keith, consider using “hashtags” in Tweets about your available pets. Highly active dogs can be marketed with tags like #running to get the attention of people who might like a jogging buddy. Try something like this:
Looking for a #running buddy? So is Sparky, a lab mix who’d love to put 5 miles on his paws before breakfast! Interested? [Insert a shortened version of his Petfinder or other URL link here].
While Facebook tagging and organization functionality is minimal, Keith says, you can make a specific request to your followers. Ask them to share posts with their friends and family members, with people who might have interests that would make a good home for that individual pet, but who don’t normally follow pet adoption social media or websites.
“The key is to think of something about the pet, some particular personality trait or physical quality, that might make him or her a great fit for a family or person who isn’t already being exposed to your adoption listings,” Keith says. “Then figure out how to reach those people through social media. After all, they’re not being bombarded with adoption pleas, the way a lot of your existing followers are. And they’re certainly not hearing about pets who want to be part of their lifestyles. It’s nothing but opportunity!”
Get more pet adoption tips in Keith’s presentation from Maddie’s Fund® daylong session on Getting to No-Kill, “Avoiding the three biggest social media mistakes,” or her Maddie’s InstituteSM webcast, “Social Media for Pet Adoption and Adoption Events,” (Certified Animal Welfare Administrator [CAWA] continuing education credit available).