From sharing adoptable animals to promoting fundraising events, social media is often the easiest and best way to spread the word about your rescue’s great work. But unless you’re a social media guru, you may not be using it to its full potential.
Here are nine tips for getting the most out of social media for your rescue.
1. Consistency is key. Maintaining a consistent voice throughout all of your posts is crucial to developing your brand and keeping your your messaging on target. It’s much easier when only one or two people are doing all of your posting. If you don’t have one volunteer with enough time to manage all of your social media networks, try splitting them up, and prioritize Facebook and Instagram. (Just make sure your content is coordinated.)
2. Create an editorial calendar. At the beginning of every month, plan out your posts for the next 30 days. Start with your upcoming events, adoptions, and volunteer opportunities, then fill in the gaps. It can be helpful to assign themes to certain days of the week. For example, every Monday you share a follow-up story on a recent adoption. Try using a shared Google calendar or creating a spreadsheet in Google Sheets so everyone can see real time updates. It can also help to use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite for Twitter. (Facebook posts should always be scheduled directly in Facebook.)
3. Follow best practices. Using social media for business is both an art AND a science. Social media algorithms change often, but there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind. Try to post on Facebook once a day, no more than twice a day, and share at least one photo on Instagram every day. You can tweet as often as possible. This infographic is a great cheat sheet with more detailed best practices, including the best times to post.
4. Share interesting content. Your followers want to see a variety of authentic, relevant posts. Tell success stories about dogs you’ve adopted out, and share the backstories on recent intakes. Do a Facebook Live of one of your adoption events or fundraisers. Recruit a few good writers, and start a blog. (Bonus: blogging is a great way to engage volunteers, even if you post once a month to start.) Earn the trust of your followers by sharing only credible information from trusted sources.
5. Post high-quality photos. Did you know Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement than those without images, and tweets with images get 5 times more engagement?* High-quality, captivating images are so important to sharing your rescue’s story and engaging your audience, so take a few minutes to edit your photos (even just a quick crop and lighten) before you post. Afterlight and A Color Story are two of my favorite photo editing apps.
6. Engage with people. It’s called social media for a reason. Find accounts similar to yours (other rescues, adopters, volunteers, etc.), and follow them. Like and comment on their posts, and always respond to people who comment on yours. Repost and share relevant content, and @mention people whenever you do. Get involved with Twitter chats like #pugchat. The more you genuinely engage with others, the more likely people are to engage with you. The more engagement your posts have, the more likely you are to show up in people’s news feeds.
7. Develop a list of canned responses. It can be helpful to have a handful of cut-and-pasteable responses ready for simple, frequently asked questions. For example, how often do you get asked what your adoption radius is? Creating a shared Google doc with a list of go-to answers to these types of questions will save you lots of time. You can also save draft posts in Facebook for even quicker access.
8. Use hashtags. Think of hashtags as keyword search terms—they’re how people find your posts. On Facebook and Twitter, typically two or three hashtags will do, but you can use up to 30 on Instagram. Do some research to see what’s trending and what hashtags other rescues are using. If you already have a big following on Instagram, consider creating a hashtag unique to your rescue. For example, we use #pugsquadsos whenever we’re promoting an event to help a pug in need. It’s also our social media handle.
9. Partner with influencers. These are people—or animals!—or brands with large social media followings who can influence your target audience. (Think Doug the Pug.) Try to build relationships with folks who can help boost your rescue’s visibility and raise awareness for your cause. This could be anyone from a local animal-loving celebrity or an Internet-famous dog with a connection to your service area.
As you plan your social media calendar for March, think about what makes your rescue unique, and find a way to make that work for you. Don’t be afraid to try things out, see which posts or campaigns get the most engagement, then adjust your strategy accordingly.
What are some of your favorite social media tips? Share your ideas in the comments!