The power of social media is no secret and facebook is definitely the leader of the pack. What I often see on facebook is desperate pleas for funds (which I understand completely) and graphic images of wounded or miserable dogs on deathrow. I get it. We’re all trying to do our part. But what if, instead of sad bleeding dogs, we saw dogs that were smiling, ready for their new homes? If you’ve stopped by here before I’m sure you’re already tired of this rant.
Now let’s consider facebook. If you or your rescue group or shelter has a facebook page (and they absolutely need one) you can watch the analytics and see which images travel. Try this experiment. Post a photo of a sad pathetic dog and watch the stats. THEN, post a cute photo with an uplifting or humorous quote and watch what happens. According to facebook, Teresa Berg Photography has 1750 friends –this image was shared (as of 9:26am) 394 times and has a “reach” or was seen by 4301 people. In less than 24 hours. Where else can your group get that kind of exposure? Just be careful what and how you post, encourage everyone you know to “like” your page, and post something positive along with a photo of an adoptable dog — then stand back and watch the magic.
I am copying this article from www.philanthropy.com because it’s just so important. Share this with all of your friends who are posting and sharing photos of half-dead animals with open wounds. Why should we reinforce the idea that shelter pets are damaged goods? Read this short article and see how focusing on the positive side of pet adoption really gave the Austin Humane Society a boost…
Shift Away From Negative Ads Increases Giving to Animal Shelter
May 26, 2011, 9:30 am
By Holly Hall
Whimsical ads are behind increased giving to the Austin Humane Society.
Many organizations worry about making a bold change to their advertising, notes M.P. Mueller, an advertising-agency owner in Austin, Tex., who writes for a New York Times blog. But doing so has increased donations and recruited scores of new volunteers for the Austin Humane Society, in Texas, she notes.
Aided by Ms. Mueller’s advertising agency, Door Number 3, also in Austin, the humane society dropped its grim spots about animal abuse and neglect starting early last year. Such heart-wrenching advertising works with animal lovers, but the results tend to be short-lived, the charity found.
Instead the charity has opted for a series of happier messages, like the ad shown here that focuses on the lifelong bonds and emotional connections between owners and their pets. “I’m not on Twitter,” the exuberant dog in the ad promises readers, “but I’ll still follow you.”
The campaign also added to the humane society’s Web site several humorous videos featuring talking animals, as well as “Trap Cat,” an online game that educates players about the charity’s efforts to spay and neuter feral cats.
Results have been impressive. By the end of last year, the Austin Humane Society reported a 13-percent rise in contributions, not including bequests and other planned gifts, and it has maintained the gains this year, says Amanda Ryan-Smith, director of development. The charity’s most recent year-end appeal based on the ad campaign’s approach generated $100,000, double the amount it raised in 2009.
Animal adoptions also increased last year and have continued to grow. From January through April of this year, for example, the humane society has placed 838 pets with new owners, up from 770 during the same months in 2010.
What’s more, the charity gained many more volunteers after it started the ad campaign: Last year volunteers logged 95,000 hours, up from just 40,000 hours in 2009, before the campaign started.
If you saw us recently on CBS The Early Show, you know what we’re all about. Saving dogs and other shelter animals! We found that these animals just weren’t getting the best marketing –and you can’t fault the employees of the animal shelters. They are overworked and underpaid, and have little or no time to perfect their photography skills. But that’s what it takes. Good photography and good marketing to raise the public’s awareness for the quality and beauty of these animals.
Over and over, we see TV commercials depicting shelter animals as pathetic, injured, battered and miserable. No wonder the average family goes to a puppy mill or a pet store — they sell cute little fluffy babies. What we never see is the living conditions of the animals that are left behind to breed litter after litter with little or no affection or basic health care.
We photograph animals for their online adoption listings, for rescue blogs, and for facebook. We make sure each animal has a clear photograph showing them at their best. No “jail shots” through the cage door with glowing green eyes. And no “cowering in the corner” shots. We pay attention to lighting and their body language and try to represent them as the beautiful little spirits that they are. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? We find that just a decent photograph can increase adoption rates up to 100%.
So join us in a national effort to give shelter pets better marketing! Reach out to a rescue group or animal shelter in YOUR community and volunteer. If you don’t have the photography skills, take one of our webinars (see the sign up page on this blog)– or even a class at your local community college. You don’t have to be a professional and you don’t even have to own an expensive camera. You DO need a few basic lighting skills, patience, and a deep love for your subjects. You can do this!