A DIY Guide to Celebrating Social Petworking Month

June is Social Petworking Month!

It’s a whole month dedicated to taking advantage of social media to help homeless pets find their forever homes. “One of the biggest struggles a rescue can face is not having enough community reach,” says Drea Rose, who works as a registered volunteer for Central Ontario Animal Rescue (COAR). “For every dog we save, we know there’s a home out there waiting, but sometimes finding it can be a task in itself.”

Thankfully, social media has become a beacon of hope in the rescue realm. Without it, rescues would not have the reach they do and would not be able to share their stories with the community so effectively. “Because of Facebook, Instagram, and the internet, we are able to get the word out faster and more efficiently, which has resulted in us being able to save a higher number of dogs,” Rose says.

Want to help? Here are some things you can do to make a difference during Social Petworking Month.

Find Pets to Share and Talk About

If you want to do your part to help this month, your first stop should be your local shelter’s or rescue group’s Facebook page or Instagram account. You can even visit PetFinder and Adopt a Pet to share directly from their website.

Most rescues post daily and all it takes is one click to share their “Pet of the Day” with your own friends and followers. “Sharing is important for shelter awareness and getting animals adopted, as well as raising money for medical cases,” according to Dana Widmer, Feline Manager at Five Acres Animal Shelter. “Many times a person cannot adopt so we ask them to share.”

Make Your Posts Interesting and Visible

While clicking the share button might be enough to get more eyes on a certain rescue or animal, sometimes something as simple as adding comments, photos or even hashtags can double your reach. Do you have an interesting story about the shelter or the dog you can add at the top of the post you’re sharing? Maybe you’ve volunteered at this shelter before and you can talk about their work or share your own pictures?

Even a quick note asking people for likes, share, and comments can make a post more visible and encourage readers to engage. “Our main focus is on sharing pics and videos. although for our shelter we notice good pictures get more response than videos on Facebook,” says Widmer. “A recent cat post went viral on FB with a good story and pic of an unhappy overweight cat named Claire. It reached over 115,000, which is huge for us—Her story just resonated with lots of people!”

Social Petworking

©istockphoto/Sviatlana Barchan

Use Facebook In Unique Ways

As long as you’re careful and don’t break any rules, you might be able to share adoptable pets to more than just your own timeline. A good way to do this is to join as many Facebook groups specific to your targeted rescue area as possible and then see if they allow members to share social posts there; if they do, these are great places to talk about pets available for adoption. “Not just rescue and animal-based groups, but also buy and sells, trading groups, city amenity groups,” says Rose. “This extends your reach to not only people who may be looking to adopt, foster or volunteer but to people who know others who might.”

Sometimes people aren’t specifically looking to adopt for themselves and often would not be in the typical animal rescue groups you may follow, according to Rose. “But that doesn’t mean that these individuals don’t know many others who may be open to the idea of adopting or fostering,” says Rose. “You don’t know until you extend your reach.”

Don’t Forget Instagram

Instagram comments can seem sweet yet redundant but like networking in real life (face to face) the more your name pops up and the more you are seen by other people the more traffic is drawn to the organization you support, says Rose.

You could even create a separate Instagram account with a catchy name like “Adoptable Pups in Miami” and then comment in other pages using that name to get some visibility and hopefully encourage people to visit your feed. “Comment and like pages that target your cause, follow animal lovers, small animal related businesses, other rescues, animal activists and show your support online,” says Rose. “You’ll often find the more love and support you put out, the more you’ll get back.”

Social Petworking

©istockphoto/supersizer

Use Social Media for More Than Just Sharing

Facebook is not only a great way to promote an organization but can be a great place to raise donations for it, so spend some time this month fundraising for your favorite rescue or shelter. “One of COAR’s go-tos for raising rescue funds is by holding mini online auctions,” says Rose. “The auction items can be anything: gift baskets, doggy kits, custom pet artwork, gift certificates or maybe even an item from a local shop that you are cross promoting with—They typically last for one or two days and you even have the option of setting a starting bid price!”

This could be a great way to keep readers involved with your favorite rescue and ensures that your efforts get results regardless of how many people you reach. “It’s also an awesome way to raise funds in emergency situations,” says Rose. Getting the word out is half the battle for any rescue, so anything you can do to help can make a world of difference.

Reach Out to Others

When it comes to sharing, you don’t have to go at it alone. Instead, Rose recommends you follow, reach out, and cross-promote with other local rescue organizations, volunteers, and people involved in animal care and welfare. “Sometimes cross-promoting with another local rescue gives you a chance to reach out to more people while also openly promoting the values rescues hold dearly,” says Rose.

You can take this a step further and connect with different animal-related businesses and shops in your community during Social Petworking Month. “Pet stores, dog-friendly cafes and restaurants are often filled with animal lovers wanting to help in any way they can,” says Rose. “Cross-promoting with local businesses gives you potential places to advertise and even hold fundraising or adoption events to help your favorite shelter.”

Meet the Author: Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at www.dianabocco.com

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