How To Write Social Media Posts for Adoptable Pets
As we wrap up our 2018 Spring Fundraiser for Thank Dog Rescue, I wanted to write a special post for the local rescues and animal advocates who follow our blog. Today’s topic: How To Write Social Media Posts for Adoptable Pets.
Social media has revolutionized the mission of rescuing animals. It is absolutely one of the best gifts that any animal in need could ask for. Of course, when the Internet became the norm for the American household, there were websites such as Petfinder and Save A Pet. Both were also excellent resources for shelter workers and families seeking a new furry friend. However, it required that family to not only become educated on the existence of these websites but to actually utilize them as well. In addition, the sites required shelters and rescues to upload photos and keep their profiles up-to-date. From experience, it was a time-consuming and inefficient process. Throughout the years, they have created a more streamlined way of posting the adoptable pets. However, the sites have also become cluttered with animals that either don’t actually exist, have already been adopted, or belong to less than reputable “rescues” that are usually not even remotely local to you.
Fast forward to the magical world of Facebook. In seconds you can take a photo of an adoptable pet, share their story, and just like that ... that adorable mug is popping up in newsfeeds all around the world. Part of the magic is that you are reaching potential adopters who do not even know they want a pet ... but something about that post and picture struck an emotional chord and boom!
With the thousands, if not millions, of homeless pets streaming across newsfeeds everywhere, how are you making the pets you are posting about stand out? Over the years I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So I’d like to share some of my secrets and tips for finding suitable and permanent homes for these adoptables.
1. Create a persona.
In marketing, we use a term “buyer persona.” We create characters that describe our target customer. It is very detailed and much deeper than just a person that fits into generic statistics or demographics. We break it down into “A woman in her early 30’s who goes to the gym 3-4 times weekly. She has 2-3 kids and drives an SUV. She shops at Old Navy and Pier 1.” We actually paint a very colorful picture of someone. I’m sure based on that short write-up, you started to envision someone who matches the description. What I started doing when creating posts for adoptable pets was create these personas for them. Then based on the character I created, I would write a captivating plea as if the dog or cat was writing it themselves, as that character.
For example, I recently wrote a post for an adoptable Pitbull mix named Bella. Instead
of posting the basic, “Meet Bella, she is 4 years old, a Pitbull mix … etc.” I created her a character of a diva fashionista. In the post you will see that she is witty and humorous. Of course dogs don’t wear Jimmy Choos and own offshore storage for their Louis Vuitton bags. However, it makes for a cute blurb that will grab readers who will undoubtedly share your post. As mentioned before, we are trying to strike an emotional chord, so we want to get that blurb in front of the eyes of the potential adopter that will see Bella as that character rather than “just another Pitbull” in the shelter.
I am sure you are thinking that you need to list the animal’s age, breed, gender, whether it is kid friendly...etc. Guess what? You do not need to worry about that in these types of posts. Why? Because if you have anyone who is remotely interested, they are going to ask you those questions. The goal is to get these posts shared. People are going to share these captivating posts over the generic listings that don’t contain any personality. If you can make someone feel emotional ... whether it makes them laugh or cry … they are more apt to want to share it with others. That’s the point. Even if that one person is not looking to adopt a pet, their cousin Lucy just may be. All it takes is one picture or one line that will remind someone of their childhood dog or tug at their heart strings for an elderly cat looking for a nice window to sit in.
2. Be honest.
Be honest and refrain from offering specifics in the original post. Nothing annoys me more than when I see a clear-as-day bully breed being identified as a Portuguese Water Dog mix or some other designer breed concoction. The bottomline is that unless you performed a DNA test on that dog, no one really knows what breed he or she may be mixed with. I’m using bully breeds as an example as they are flooding the shelters and have the most difficult time getting adopted. I understand the theory behind saying a bully breed is a non bully breed but there’s just no sense being dishonest. Bully breeds are excellent dogs and if someone wants to adopt that dog, well, that’s amazing. You do not want someone adopting a dog under false pretenses because one of two things will happen:
Nothing. Everything will be just fine.
The adopter will figure out said dog is a bully breed when someone who is more breed savvy tells them so. Some people just can’t stand the thought of owning a bully breed type dog, regardless of how awesome the dog is. It is just a stigma and we all know how humans are. So said dog will either be returned or face some other awful fate when they are promptly evicted because they are not the Portuguese Water Dog that you promised.
Another pet peeve (but likely less chance of becoming an issue) is when every grey cat is a Russian Blue, every long haired tabby is a Maine Coon, and every black cat is a Bombay. Lord have mercy! 99% of the time they are just domestic cats! However, there is less of a chance of a cat being returned due to false breed advertising but I am sure you catch my drift.
I recently read several articles that shelter workers are labeling dogs as bully breeds based on physical characteristics, when they actually are not. You can check it out here.
Why label a dog as anything when it can dramatically reduce it’s opportunity to be adopted? See how that works both ways?
3. Don’t write checks that you can’t cash.
Unless you are a licensed behaviorist and have done extensive evaluations of these animals outside of the kennel environment, you should not be making any guarantees about these animals’ behaviors towards children, other animals, etc. Of course you should be doing your due diligence to evaluate the animals and any obvious signs of aggression will dictate next steps. However, this is about what you are posting on social media. If you say “Great with kids,” you better damn well know that this animal is rock solid with children in every situation and under every circumstance. Why? Because if Fluffy gets adopted and bites a toddler in the face, you can bet they will come right back and refer to your post promising a perfectly kid-friendly pooch.
So when writing posts, you should use sentences like “Seems to be comfortable around children, but has had minimal exposure.” Or say nothing at all. If someone asks, you can make a statement prefacing it with “Based on our observations here in the kennel, this dog appears to be OK with children. However, we can not make any guarantees as this is not a ‘real life’ environment or scenario.”
4. Keep your options open.
Do not commit or make promises of animals to people that you have only met online. Remember, anything you write on social media might as well be a contract, as it is out there for the whole world to see. Anything you write is virtually impossible to truly erase. Choose your words wisely when interacting with potential adopters. You want the best family possible for your adoptable pet. Bottom line is that social media is amazing for making connections, but good ol’ face-to-face contact is a must before Fido heads home.
I hope these guidelines tremendously help with your pet adoption efforts on social media. Need more info or advice? Don’t hesitate to contact us for more free tips!