4 Social Media Tips for Animal Shelters

social media tips for animal shelters

This year I was fortunate enough to intern / volunteer with the Humane Society of Chittenden County. The nonprofit is completely on top of using digital marketing as a way to fundraise and promote animal adoptions & welfare. Working with them lead me to research ways other animal shelters are using social media, and gave me some key insights for nonprofits to successfully utilize digital strategy.

  1. Instagram is your best friend for promoting adorable animals. Animal shelters are lucky – you have access to a constant stream of adorable animal imagery – use it! Adoptable animals & happy new families should share your feed. 15 second videos on the app are great too, but…
  2. Get videography interns or volunteers to update your Youtube stream. People can’t resist sharing animal videos. The HSCC had a video student volunteering with them every week to spotlight adoptable animals. Youtube is great for this because, let’s face it, 8/10 times we’re on the site we’re watching that chow chow puppy try to get out of a bowl.
  3. Use Facebook for happy ending stories. When the HSCC’s new director of communications started, she asked her friends to Like the shelter’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, she quickly learned people didn’t want to scroll past pictures of sad puppies every day, and that’s why they hadn’t Liked the page in the past. By posting weekly updates of adopted animals, and sharing Instagram photos of newly completed families with their new BFFs, the HSCC created a really positive image in people’s minds. This made their audience more excited to get engaged online than if they constantly posted about sad kittens.
  4. Don’t ignore social when hosting adoptions promotions & activities. The HSCC was lucky enough to participate in a free adoption event sponsored by Maddie’s Fund this year. It was a 2 day long event, and the entire time we posted photos of every adoption and the general excitement of the event on Instagram, made an album on Facebook, and were constantly promoting on Twitter. I want to say all but maybe 3 (difficult placement) animals got adopted, and everyone is hoping they can do it again next year. The majority of success from the event was because of the amazing work of the HSCC staff and volunteers, but at least a fraction is due to the excitement created on social to get people there.

Social Media is going to be so important in the coming years for all nonprofits, but especially animal shelters due to the fact that people adopting animals are young families, and those young families are all on social media. It’s where they get most of their information and news, and where they’re engaging with their friends, families, and favorite brands. From adopting animals to donating money to their favorite charities, I promise your audience wants to engage with your nonprofit online. I’m going to leave you with this fun infographic about the importance of nonprofits having a social media strategy:

Why Nonprofits Need A Social Media Strategy Infographic

PS. This website is also an awesome resource for shelters looking to expand on social.

Do you connect with your favorite animal shelters or nonprofts on social media?


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