How Social Media Helped Save Domino + 6 Tips To Perfect Your Next Facebook Campaign
Shortly after being hired as an Animal Control Officer in 2013, a young, spunky Pitbull mix came in as a roamer. I remember it being a little before Christmas. He was sent to doggie jail for roaming the local schoolyard and reportedly trying to attend social studies with the kids after recess. (You can’t blame a dog for trying to get an education.)
You see, when you work in this industry for long enough, you pick up on certain things that help you determine if a dog was just out for a stroll and his parents are coming to look for him when they discover he’s missing. On the other side, you can tell right away if no one is ever coming for that dog.
This dog came in neutered with a brand new collar on. He was well groomed with nails so well-manicured, he put me to shame. I still to this day remember saying to him out loud, “Don’t worry buddy, I’m sure your Mom will come get you by the end of the day.” Unfortunately, days passed, then weeks … and we finally came to the realization that I was wrong. His Mom was not coming.
This dog was a bit of a handful. Super cute but boy, was he energetic. He would jump so high when you walked by his kennel you’d swear he had springs attached to his paw pads. He was white with black spots, very similar to the famous Target pup. We settled on a name of Domino. As time passed, he was my “Dommy Doodle.” He couldn’t have been more than 10 months old when he came to us. I thought for sure he would get adopted pretty quickly. I knew his energy level was going to require a special adopter but he was so darn cute! He’d get scooped up pretty quickly.
Well, those weeks turned into months and those months turned into years. We were approaching Domino’s third Christmas with us. Three years of sitting in the same concrete cell. Day in and day out. Of course we loved him and spoiled him as much we could but every dog deserves a family to spend their holiday, well every single day, with. What could I do? How could I find this dog a home before Christmas? I needed a plan and time was ticking.
It’s no surprise that animals pull at people’s heartstrings. Especially around the holidays. (If those awful Sarah McLaughlin commercials don’t make you at least get a little misty-eyed then I fear for your soul.) Anyways, I knew that if I was going to reach Domino’s target audience, this was the time to do it. I, of course, shared his picture on social media countless times. Using social media to re-home the shelter dogs had worked for so many before him. I pleaded for someone to save him from the misery that must exist in looking at the same four walls every single day. So what could I do different? What would drive the right people in? What was going to reach that one person that had the patience for a dog that had essentially been institutionalized, living in a kennel for so long?
Then it hit me. We needed a campaign. We needed a “Get Dom a home for Christmas” campaign. It’s like a magical light bulb went off. The concept really wasn’t a complicated one but I certainly wish I had thought of it three years prior!
I immediately went to work. I contacted local newspapers and flooded Facebook with pictures of Dom. I sent a plea out that no one could ignore and would feel compelled to share. NBC and Channel 3 News eventually caught wind of the campaign and came down to take footage of Dom and spread the word even further. Domino was famous! All of a sudden we were getting inundated with calls from all over the country for him. Indiana, California, Pennsylvania. It was absolutely crazy!
Even with all of the calls, inquiries, and visits, there was only a very tiny percentage of those people who would have been an appropriate fit for him ... and even less who were committed to giving him everything he needed and so truly deserved. As much as people liked the idea of saving that desperate dog from the shelter, I didn’t think they always really understood the work involved. Of course, we were so grateful for any and all of the attention we were getting. And several other dogs ended up getting adopted because of the traffic that was driven in from Dom’s campaign. While we were thrilled for his kennel mates, things weren’t looking that good for Dom.
A Christmas Miracle
Call it a Christmas miracle if you’d like … a nice cocktail of miracles and marketing. It happened. We were approached by a young woman who lived in our very same town. She was under our noses the entire time! As a school teacher, she came equipped with the level of patience that Dom needed. She had just purchased a beautiful new home and it happened to be that “every house needs a dog, so why not Mr. Domino?” It was a flawless adoption. Perfect references and her home visit made us all want to live with her. Could it be true? Was this actually happening? Well, I probably pinched myself a thousand times that week. It was finally Domino’s moment.
The news stations returned to the shelter to share in the celebration. They taped footage of him walking out those shelter doors for the last time. The marketing of him finding his new home was just as important as the search. It was a journey that we invited the world to join us on. So it was only appropriate to continue to keep “Team Domino” posted. We had set out to complete a mission within a specific timeframe. We met our goal and it was time to share this victory with everyone who helped close the deal.
We later arrived at Domino’s pristine new home. His Mom went on to show us the baby gates she put up and where he would sleep. No sooner did we talk about the height of the gates, Dom cleared the one into the living room and made a beeline for the shiny balls hanging from the Christmas tree. We all gasped as we envisioned this perfect tree, with ornaments placed ever so carefully, crashing down. We were pleasantly surprised though … crisis averted! He was remarkably much better behaved than anticipated!
They always say that shelter dogs always seem to be a little more appreciative. As if to say that they recognize they’ve been saved. Well, I don’t know how well dogs process information like that but I will tell you that this dog ended up exactly where he was supposed to. Campaign “Find Domino A Home For Christmas” was a success! This year will be his second Christmas AT HOME.
6 Tips To Perfect Your Next Social Media Campaign
So what makes a social campaign like this one truly work? To break it down, it involves six key factors, which I believe are of equal importance.
1. Create a Facebook Event.
In addition to your regular feed, creating an event will build excitement. It’s like joining a party and everyone is invited. In fact, the more, the merrier! Who doesn’t want a piece of the action?
2. Promote sponsored Facebook ads.
In the animal industry, we have the cuteness factor working in our favor. You will undoubtedly reach a larger audience on a faster scale if you’re talking about puppies versus planting grass seed or making deviled eggs. However, regardless of how fluffy the subjects are, it is indeed a fact that sponsored ads are seen more than free posts.
“A study from Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. Research from Social@Ogilvy, meanwhile, suggests that for Pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%.” [Bernazzani, C. (2017, April 12). The Decline of Organic Facebook Reach & How to Outsmart the Algorithm]
Long story short: boost or promote your Facebook ads for better reach!
3. Tell a story.
Craft a compelling narrative and plea that will engage your audience … and encourage them to share it. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Do you find the topic interesting? Does it appeal to you on some level? If it’s boring and doesn’t catch their attention instantly, you’ll lose them. Make sure your photos are clear, compelling, and add value to your story. You do not need to be a professional photographer to take decent photos. Just steady your smart phone and snap away. Post blurry or unattractive photos will make you look like an amateur which could lead to the loss of audience members if they view you as unprofessional.
4. Continuously post updates.
You do not want to lose your audience. Keep them engaged by continually posting updates. With Domino’s campaign, the high frequency of published content generated an increase in traffic … which ultimately resulted in adoptions of several other animals at the shelter. Although these adoptions were not the ultimate goal, they were still happy endings and residual successes.
5. Set a goal and have a deadline.
Having a defined plan is a key to success with any marketing campaign. What is the primary goal and what’s the timeframe to achieve it? We created Domino’s campaign in early December. The deadline was less than a month away. It’s easier to captivate people in the moment. Promoting a campaign too far in advance can lead to people forgetting about it or losing interest and ultimately a lackluster finish.
6. Share your success.
When the campaign is over, be sure to share the results with your audience. Domino’s campaign grew the shelter’s Facebook Page by thousands of likes. Sharing campaign news along with other content your audience will find interesting will help sustain your number of followers. Your audience is an asset for future campaigns … be sure to keep them in the loop and constantly nurture them with more great content. This also reminds me to mention that it’s ok to post an update or something relevant about your campaign even if it has been months since it ended. It can serve as a happy reminder to some followers as to why they fell in love with your story to begin with.
And with that, you are bound to have a successful campaign.
YOU CAN HELP PUPS LIKE DOMINO FIND THEIR FOREVER HOMES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON! LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT ONE MORE DOG RESCUE!