I have to share a social media experience I just had that was pretty personal for me.
I acquired two dogs (in the way that most of us do; they come to us from various places and people!) named Daisy and Josie. They were sisters–I’m guessing border collie/cocker spaniel mixes. They were about two years old and had spent much of their lives in someone’s backyard without much human interaction. They were sweet and friendly, but wary and unsocialized.
I was able to get Josie into my humane society’s adoption program, where she quickly found a home, but Daisy flunked her SAFER assessment twice. This was tough for me. I believe in policies and procedures. I know a lot of controversy surrounds behavior assessments, an I could write a lot about my own feelings on that issue, but I’ll just say we have to have consistent policies and criteria for admitting animals into our adoption programs. And those policies have to exist to protect our organizations first and foremost. YES, we exist to protect the animals…but if our entire organization is destroyed by a lawsuit because of one aggressive dog, we can’t help ANY animals then.
So even though I “KNEW” (with my own intuition, because I’m familiar with dogs) that Daisy wouldn’t be aggressive, she sure failed her assessment.
So it was up to me to find her a home on my own. A fearful dog…not socialized…not housebroken. But a good, sweet, kind dog. I didn’t want to give up on her.
So I turned to social media, of course! It took a month, but a friend of a friend of a friend’s mom ended up adopting Daisy. I couldn’t be more pleased with this new home. Daisy gets a stay-at-home mom, she’ll be the only dog, and this lady LOVES her. I mean, she LOVES this dog! So it’s a happy ending!
This was a great example of the more personal aspect of social media. I couldn’t use any “official” presence that I might have on any social media channel. I couldn’t be TheSocialAnimal, I couldn’t be @okhumane. I could only be Emily, drawing on my personal connections. People I actually knew. Asking them to ask people they knew to help me.
Shelters and organizations starting out in social media always ask me, “how can we get more followers? how can we build a following? How do we get fans?” And I say, “how many people are on your staff? how many volunteers do you have?”
That is your seed group. That’s who you start with. Even if you have five people–those five people are your solid core, your most ardent, passionate advocates. And you know what? I’ll bet they have five friends. And those people have five friends. And so on and so forth…and before long–yes, it’s true–before long you’ve got 4,000 fans!
There’s no trick. There’s no formula or software (although people will try to sell it to you!) that can get you loads of fans with no effort. It’s about relationships. It’s about building trust and investment, one person at a time. You know that whole “six degrees of separation” thing? Well, that is the crux of social media! Every single fan of your organization is a friend of a friend of a friend. Each person cares about someone who cares about you.
That’s why these relationships are so powerful. You’re a lot more likely to do a favor for a friend than for a stranger, right? So if a friend asks you to support a cause, to take action on behalf of an organization, you’re more likely to do it, aren’t you? Because you have a relationship with that person.
USE these relationships! Use them when you’re fundraising, use them when you’re looking for foster homes, for donations, for volunteers. This is your very best leverage.
Daisy found a fantastic home because I drew upon my relationships. Someone I didn’t even know (but is a friend of a friend of a friend) happened to be looking for a dog. I leveraged my relationships to find a really happy resolution for the adopter, for Daisy and for me (YES! I’m finally foster free…for now…)
Have YOU used your relationships in social media successfully on behalf of your organization? Do you have questions about how this works? Post here and continue the discussion–I’d love to hear your success stories!