Webinar presenter Angelina Martin answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Social Listening for Social Content for Animal Shelters. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: If you post stray animals that come into your shelter on your social media page in an attempt to increase reunion with owners, how do you keep down the number of people who are actually looking for their lost pets versus people who are interested in adopting the animal you’ve just posted? Then she provides an example. If we post a stray dog that came into the shelter and say, “Hey, this dog came in, is it yours?” All that we end up getting is people asking, “When is the dog going to be available?”
Angelina Martin: Okay, so that is using social Listening. So, you know that people are asking the same question over, and over, and over again. So, in your post text, for that stray animal who’s come into your shelter, make sure you address that in one of your first lines, “Found dog. Please share to help this dog be reunited with his family. This dog is not available for adoption at this time. Please stay tuned.” “This dog is not available for adoption at this time, our primary focus is reuniting them with their family.” Maybe say something along those lines. So that is a key way to use social listening, to update the text, in your post. Now, if that still doesn’t do it, because what we found is that people will continually comment back. Open up a Word document and have a standard response. And maybe that standard response is, “Thank you for asking. Our primary focus right now is reuniting, this animal with their family” And maybe keep it to that and Ctrl+C Ctrl+V, copy and paste every single time someone asks that question. Copy and paste. And then what will happen over time is what happened with us. People will understand that is your answer to their question. So, I hope that helps.
Audience Question: Another example of amazing social listening is a question from Berkeley, for some reason, our cat posts always tank compared to our dog posts, even if the format is the same or similar. Any tips for this scenario?
Angelina Martin: Absolutely. So, it’s measurable. Your dog posts are stronger than your cat posts. So, you post two dog posts back to back and then post a cat post and then post the dog post. So, you’re getting the momentum to go up on your page, and when you’re posting a weaker post the momentum starts to drop. You post another dog post, which is a strong post so, that furthers the reach of the cat post. You’ll know that you’ve sort of crossed that boundary when the cat posts start doing equally as well as the dog posts. For us, it was the opposite. Anytime we would post a cat post, it would do twice as well as a dog post. So, we had to do the opposite. Now, that being said, you can also determine if the cat posts aren’t doing as well, maybe you could tie bow ties around the cats. If you have time, maybe use a colorful blanket underneath the cat. Maybe do quick little videos or try other content format types to see how to get that engagement. What has maybe allowed reaching 500 people for a cat in the past? Maybe if another post got 600 reach, use that and work on that post instead. You know that something worked better in that post, so continue to follow those numbers. There was a rescue group that recently used those bow ties. And that cat post really took off. It was something! You can get those bow ties at Amazon, I think for $7.99. So, it comes down to time. I understand that sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to create this. But you could also put, you know, a little cute little stuffed animal next to the cat or something along those lines, if you haven’t already tried that. But I would definitely do strong posts, and then week posts using your SWOTs to get that momentum and reach out.
Audience Question: When we’re posting about lost animals or adoptable animals, is it better to have a short video clip or a couple of photos?
Angelina Martin: Well, that depends on how your community responds to that and what your capacity is. So the videos, especially shorter video clips for Facebook, tend to do maybe a little bit less on engagement or reach, as compared to videos on Instagram, or videos on Tiktok. Photographs might do better on Twitter as compared to Instagram now, which used to be photographs, right? But now it’s more along the lines of the short video clips. So, measure your results based on if you post a photo of a lost dog who comes in. And then post a video of a lost dog who comes in at similar times. See which one had no further reach or further engagement. It’s that equivalent of watching the other person’s body language – how are they responding to you? So, I could say, for us, if I posted a photograph of a found dog as compared to a video of the found dog, the video would have a much further reach. But we just didn’t have the capacity to continually do videos. So that’s the reason why I continue to post photographs. So, I hope that answers your question.
Audience Question: My city is weak on social media. Are there resources that can be given to the city leaders that will help them understand why our social media needs to be updated? And have someone knowledgeable to run it? Resources that might tell us why they should utilize social media would be so helpful.
Angelina Martin: So, through the Justice Clearinghouse, there’s an Intro to Social Media Marketing webinar that I did, and there is a whole piece at the beginning of it that explains why you need a dedicated social media person. If you want to bring one example to them, you could bring the example of having a dedicated social media person. When there was a disaster, I was able to, in one post, bring in over $100,000 worth of donations during the 2019 Kincade fire. Day-to-day operations, we, as social media managers are able to only through using social listening, bring in thousands of dollars of supplies and funding, not only increasing your reach and visibility and enabling you to become a resource for your community. So, maybe way back when before they had a dedicated social media person with a reputation for being so poor when they had the Board of Supervisor meetings and budget meetings for a government facility or municipal shelter. Maybe we, our budget wouldn’t have been furthered or approved. Or maybe we would have lost some contracts or along those lines. But having a dedicated social media person, you become that resource for the community. People know about it. They want you to succeed, so they will attend the meetings and help you. That being said, if you don’t have access to going back to the video through the Justice Clearinghouse, which I sure hope that you do because that is an hour-long webinar, which goes into detail about it. I do have a YouTube video that talks about having a designated social media person because if you don’t invest in social media marketing, your competition is there’s money out there for you. There are grants out there for you, resources out there for you, and if you’re not taking advantage of your social media, someone else will.
Audience Question: How often do you use stories and reels on Facebook and Instagram? What is your success, and how do we get traction on Facebook stories?
Angelina Martin: Okay, so what I found will be different for my online audience than yours. So always be sure to read the numbers. Now, if you’re posting to Facebook stories, there’s a way to view the numbers to see if they’re increasing or decreasing. What I have found is that posting to Instagram Stories, and then having that just automatically go out to Facebook Stories at least once per day, will help further your engagement and reach on all of your posts. So, for the person who asked about how to get more interest in the cat posts, maybe you post something fun to your stories. So that way, once you create your strong post and then your weaker cat post, your reach is already going up. Your momentum is already going up, that’s what I have found. Additionally, really short video clips on Instagram reels work really while using hashtags and using polls. You can link it back, using a hyperlink. You can type something into where someone can click on the story and I’ll go right to that adoptable animal or that lost or found animal. And I found that posting lost and found animals to Instagram Stories and going out to Facebook Stories works really well. Now, Instagram reels, completely separate channel top, you can use it as a completely separate channel. I did something for an animal shelter on Instagram reels, using a TikTok video. And it did okay. But when you post to Instagram reels using their platform directly, it triples the engagement, it quadruples the amount of people reached. Instagram reels will accept a TikTok video. But they actually want you to use their own editor. Always be sure to hashtag or tag other people if you can because that furthers your reach as well. But I highly recommend the use of Instagram reels the use of Facebook stories and Instagram stories.
Audience Question: As we have so much content, we have so many animals who have been surrendered at our shelter. How many posts can we realistically do without overtaxing our audience since we have so many animals who need homes?
Angelina Martin: This is a great question. So that comes down to that first posting frequency question. How often can you post to your page? And it depends on number one that you’ve identified your goals. You want to either get these animals adopted or you want transfer groups interested in these animals. You want to decrease your length of stay at the shelter for the well-being of your animals and your staff and overall that live release rate while decreasing shelter costs, so that’s your goals. But it also depends on what the capacity of your page is. So, what does your engagement rate do if you’re posting animal after animal after animal? If you post three times a day or four times a day, and you’re posting individual animals, which your pages, do. I know some pages that post, 7 or 10 times a day, and their reach is in the 100,000. So, it just depends on who you are as an organization, and what content you’re putting out, how you’re telling your stories. Your photographs that look like, what your videos look like, are they different? Now, when you have so many animals coming in and being surrendered, you might want to do a photo collage. Like I did when we were inundated with the Huskies. That photo collage went far and wide, and it got visibility for something like 12 dogs in one post, and so, maybe that’s an idea or an opportunity. You can also social listen by going to other animal shelters all over the US, and seeing how community members have engaged with their posts when they’ve posted adoptable animals over, and over again, what have they done? Balance that with your mission and then post it and see what your numbers tell you.
Audience Question: Does posting about upcoming events like an adoption fair, is it likely to generate increased attendance, or do they really need to be more specific about a particular animal we expect to be available for adoption at the fair?
Angelina Martin: Oh, that just depends on your online community. How are they reacting? So, how are they reacting to your posts? Are they sharing it> And what are they saying in the shares? So, are they saying that they’re interested in coming? Are they saying that they’re attending? And then, when you get to that event, are you polling people by asking, “How did you hear about this event?” And because that is so important to prove your return on investment that will tell you what you need to know. And that’s part of social listening is asking those questions and getting that information. Now, I’ve never had success with posting the animals who are going to be at an adoption event because anytime that I say this animal is going to be there or something happens to that animal. It gets adopted, they get transferred, or goes back to his family. So, I had never had much luck or success actually promoting an animal that’s going to be at an event. I will share, if it looks like we might have puppies at the event. And then the day of the event, that morning or something along those lines. You know I’m superstitious. So, I won’t even post about them. I’ll just say, you know, we’re bringing puppies and kittens or something along those lines, which tends to do okay. The point being is that you have to read your audience and understand what they want to hear. I know that that doesn’t directly answer your question, but I hope it gives you some insights into how to use social listening to find answers.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Social Listening for Social Content for Animal Shelters.