Let’s face it, Animal Welfare Organizations have it pretty easy when it comes to finding content for social media. Pictures of cats cuddling, videos of pups prancing, amazing stories of survival; they’re all instant hits on Facebook or Instagram.
However, when you add an organization’s programs, services, partnerships, sponsorships, events and need for donations, it can be more than a little overwhelming. Here are 15 tips we use at the Arizona Humane Society to help share our stories and save more lives.
- Decide who you are. A social media account should represent the organization and mission, but also its personality. Pick three words that best describe your brand’s social media page and use it to guide your content. Here are a couple to get you started: expert, educational, cute, funny, newsworthy, emotional, informational, transparent and reliable.
- Have a plan. A social media content calendar can be your most powerful tool when it comes to integrated marketing planning, outlining promotions, understanding priorities or just knowing which day of the week it is. (We’ve all been there.) Whether you’re updating once a week or once a day, be consistent and keep content fresh. Posts on your Instagram should be different than those on your Facebook page for users who follow both. Pro Tip: Facebook allows brands to pre-schedule posts throughout the week/month/year. This makes planning regular content a breeze.
- Don’t overdo it. There are too many stories. Too many programs. Too many adorable pictures of adoptable puppies cuddling! It’s going to be okay. Flooding your Facebook or Instagram feed with too many posts a day is a sure fire way to lose followers.
- A good rule of thumb is to post 1-3 times a day with a few hours between posts. Within a few days, you should see your engagement rates go up!
- Keep it short. Often we want to tell people the whole story in a single post. Not only will most people skim over long posts, but you’ve missed the opportunity to have followers ask questions or click through to your website.
- Keep your posts concise. A good rule of thumb is no more than three, short sentences. Longer stories should be written into a blog and posted with a teaser sentence, e.g. “We were blown away by JoJo’s amazing story of survival.” Don’t forget your hashtags on your Instagram posts!
- Keep it social. Yes, it’s important to share your services and programs with your audience. It’s also important to remember that social media is not “free advertising.” Include a story of a pet directly affected by the amazing work you do, and people will be more likely to engage with posts!
- Want to increase your engagement? Ask questions or give followers the opportunity to share their photos or ideas. Your audience will tell you what they care about with their likes and shares, so pay attention!
- Answer questions. It may be the same question over and over, but every question posted to your page should be answered quickly and completely. Your followers and your pets will thank you.
- Get great photos and video! Telling stories through imagery is by far the most important thing you can do to save more lives. An amazing photo or 15-second video of a pet can help find their forever home and bring joy to your followers.
- Instagram is perfect medium to share behind the scene photos and videos with a quick caption and lots of relevant hashtags. Great, high-quality photos get higher engagement and more shares, which means more people seeing your work!
- Don’t forget the links. People should know about your amazing work! With just a few posts a day, you can’t share it all on Facebook. Including links to your website in your Facebook posts invites followers to learn about your programs, engage with your services and donate. Instagram doesn’t allow for links in their posts, but you can always update the link in your profile. Include the line, “link in our bio” in your Instagram post to encourage users to click.
- Be kind. There is so much opportunity for partnership and recognition in the world of animal welfare. Take advantage of it! If another group has helped you out, or went above and beyond for a pet in need, thank them!
- People love seeing our community work together for the greater good. It will also bolster that relationship for the future, helping more pets in the long run.
- Measure! If you like data, you can download amazing, in-depth reports from Facebook Insights. If you don’t like data, sorry, but it is really important. In addition to the number of Facebook followers, we track our engagement, impressions, and reach every month. Instagram now offers analytics too! With this kind of information, you will get a better understanding of your audience, your content and how your content can help more pets!
When it comes to social media sharing, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Follow other Animal Welfare Organizations and local non-profits for ideas and inspiration. You can watch the Arizona Humane Society’s social media in action at facebook.com/azhumane or @azhumane on Twitter and Instagram.
The opinions and advice expressed within this article are the opinions of the author, and not of SAWA or its affiliates.