Perhaps you’re familiar with The Five Love Languages, the bestselling self-help book by Gary Chapman which identifies ways people both give and respond to love. Be it words of affirmation, receiving gifts, or spending quality time, Chapman finds we all give and receive our affection differently and in order to be successful in our relationships we need to understand what resonates with our SO and vice versa. In personal relationships tactics are predominantly one-to-one. In professional relationships tactics are one-to-many, the goal is to attract and grow those contacts into the community needed to support our organization.
Building a community on social media is incredibly important. Today’s calling cards come in the form of mobile friendly user content generated thumb prints, and animal shelters need to take part in these dynamic, engaging, and entertaining platforms in order to promote your mission and gather your tribe. Look at your social media following as your shelter advocates, your cyber cheerleaders who show up for you, stand up for you, and support you along the way.
As you set out to begin to engage on the various social media platforms or if you are more interested in growing your tribe, it’s important to note there are commonalities across all platforms. Look at these pointers as the key tenets to finding, attracting and growing your audience.
- Ask questions
- Use Hashtags
- Be transparent
- Stay away from controversy, hot current topics
- Share your organizations success stories
The four most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Depending on your needs, desires, and bandwidth, you’ll want to be sure to have a strong presence on one, and decide which of the other arenas you want to play in. In order to help you decide, we’ve provided you with a high-level view of what’s what, check it out:
You likely already have a public Facebook page, and that is great! On this page you are posting your virtual meet and greets, your shelters policy and hours updates, and of course, pictures of your beautiful residents headed home with their new families. Consider creating a Facebook Group for those shelter loyalists to enjoy. It is in these private groups where members can engage with each other in a more direct way, suggest the group to their like minded friends, and watch your community flourish.
If Instagram is where you want to collect and build your audience, then start by being sure about the type of content you want to share with your community. Instagram is where the beautiful images live, your audience is going to want to see beautiful pups, smiling volunteers, and tons of engagement. When your fans comment on your posts, it’s so important to acknowledge their attention, it’s what keeps them coming back and tagging their friends. It’s a perfect vehicle for an effective grass roots community build .
Twitter is an incredible platform for sharing small, digestible morsels of news about your shelter, available pets, events, and trends. It’s a story-tellers platform and you can use your account to tell robust stories in multiple posts, or quick hit stories in 280 characters. Be sure to take note of Tweets that truly resonate with your community, spark engagement and shares and build your strategy around these posts. When you give your community what they want, they share, bond and grow.
With more than 500 million users, TiKTok’s popularity has soared and is moving from an entertaining dance based platform ((known as Straight TikTok) to a more anything-goes-as-long-as-it’s-entertaining platform (known as Alt TikTok). Though not necessarily an everyday platform for a shelter, the opportunity for creative content is limitless. TikTok skews young, so building this tribe could be a way to pad your pipeline of future adopters and shelter advocates.
Social media can be both overwhelming and a powerful marketing tool when used properly, either way it’s a necessity when looking to attract your tribe. Choose which platforms resonate with your shelter’s audience, (check out these handy generation marketing tips: Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomers), talk directly to them, create fun, engaging, informative content which will not only keep your core audience and followers coming back, but will inspire them to share which will attract and grow your community every day.
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