Out of all the millions of social media experts offering advice, no one knows your organization better than you do. It's time to use that knowledge to make sure your social media efforts on behalf of the animals aren't being wasted.
"One of the striking issues I see when I'm asked to consult with shelters and rescue groups," says social media consultant Christie Keith, "is that no one at the organization has a ready answer to my first, most important question: what do you want to achieve with your social media presence?"
Without knowing where you want to end up, she points out, you're likely to waste a lot of time, energy, and possibly even money.
"Most animal shelters and rescue groups probably want to do more adoptions, raise more money, and recruit more volunteers and foster homes," she said. "Those are all things that you can do through social media, but that means you need to have a plan, and ask whether each post, each Tweet, even each comment is going to help you reach those goals, and if so, how."
The secret to succeeding in social media is to have a plan. Keith recommends these initial steps:
1. Inventory existing social platforms. Maybe you only have a Facebook account. Maybe you have accounts on many social platforms, but aren't getting the most out of any of them. Either way, write them all down.
2. Write down each organizational goal. Start with adoptions, fundraising, and volunteer/foster home recruitment, then add any others that you'd like to address through social media. Examples would be sign-ups for your mailing list, hiring, volunteer or staff acknowledgement, or lobbying on behalf of animals.
3. Prioritize the goals. Go through each of those items and decide how important it is for your organization.
4. Test for social media-compatibility. Some goals are easier to achieve through social media than others. Even if hiring is your number one goal, it will probably be easier to use social media to find homes for pets and raise money than to hire. If you can do them all, great, but if not, be strategic.
5. Evalute resources. How much time does your team really have to spend on social media each week? There's no point in creating a plan that requires staffing you don't have. There's also no reason to just shove volunteers at your social channels without a good plan and some accountability, so be thorough in this sept.
6. Get your team on board. Make sure everyone who posts or comments on any social media platform on behalf of your organization is part of this process and understands the goals and priorities of the organization. Random social media activity is a waste of time.
"Each person who creates posts or other content needs to evaluate them for what goal or goals they're related to achieving," says Keith. "They then need to determine where those goals fall on the priority list, and whether or not they're likely be successful at moving you toward those goals."
After a month of utilizing this process, evaluate how it's working, and make any necessary changes.
"It's crucial to set goals and then have some kind of process in place to measure whether they succeeded or not," Keith says. "It doesn't matter how many views or how much enagement you get on a social media post if it doesn't accomplish what you need it to."
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