A PURPOSEFUL RESCUE is an awesome nonprofit case study for the effective use of social media. One of the most misunderstood and under-utilized marketing tools by small businesses and nonprofits are social media channels, yet this California-based animal rescue uses Facebook with spot-on messaging that first caught my eye in March.
A Purposeful Rescue saves dogs from overcrowded shelters in South Los Angeles. Many of these dogs are overlooked due to age, medical condition or simply because they don’t make a good impression within a stressful shelter environment. Last March, A Purposeful Rescue saved “Manny,” a senior dog who at the respectful age of ten was taken to a shelter by his owners in favor of a younger dog. His story went viral and touched the hearts of thousands who offered support. A Purposeful Rescue did a beautiful job promoting Manny’s story through Facebook and they now have a dedicated MANNY FUND to support the rescue of older dogs. So how does A Purposeful Rescue entice me to smash the “like” button three times a day and be a loyal follower, supporter and fan? It’s their savvy combination of message, imagery and post frequency.
SMART MOVE #1 – The Message
A Purposeful Rescue’s Facebook posts are always happy, upbeat and focused on the silver lining of each dog’s story. You never read about the neglect or abuse, instead the focus is on the recovery and tiny moments of success that make you want to cheer! A Purposeful Rescue’s Facebook posts share the adorable idiosyncrasies of each “Magical Unicorn,” as these diamond-in-the-rough pups are so aptly named and this gives the reader a highly personal connection with both the dogs and the organization.
Take a look at their posts and fun-loving messaging. The pups are labeled “magical unicorns,” “cupcake” and “pop tart”! These descriptions are not only delightful, yet they are also highly effective at building rapport with the audience. Visit the donate page of A Purposeful Rescue’s website and you’ll find the donation levels labeled “Fairy Godmother” and “Wolf Mother” instead of nondescript dollar amounts or trite labels like “bronze,” “gold,” and “platinum.” A Purposeful Rescue has defined their brand, understands who they are and they know how to carry their brand throughout their marketing, which is exactly what you should do.
Compare A Purposeful Rescue’s messaging strategy against that of other nonprofits where personal details are often lost in the urgency of publishing facts or data. Even less effective are messages that share tales of abuse and cruelty – these posts are provocative and may grab-attention, yet emotional juggernauts quickly wear the reader out and even create avoidance. Seeing pictures of sharks schooling or children splashing in clean water is far more compelling than images of shark finning or starvation. Even better is giving the reader that “peek behind the curtain” and sharing small details about the animals or people that the nonprofit supports. Does this particular shark have a scar along its snout from a tangle with a boat prop and has been appropriately named scarface? Does the young boy splashing in clean water dream of flying a kite or is the best fisherman in his class? Those are the moments that grab a social audience. The hypocrisy is duly noted – heroic, nonprofit staffers live with horrible truths that the rest of us would rather not know. However, when building a loyal tribe of supporters, a message that invites us to celebrate the victories and everyday sweet moments are most powerful.
SMART MOVE #2 – Production Value
Good quality photography and video can be one area where nonprofits and small businesses cut corners in an attempt to shave costs. Occasionally, I agree with this choice, but not when it comes to building nonprofit awareness. Consumers glaze over hundreds of images on their social media channels each day. An artfully-composed, good-quality image is cost-of-entry to gaining attention and A Purposeful Rescue obviously understands this. Take a look at these images from the ADOPTABLE DOGS page of their website taken by KLICKA STUDIOS. You see great technical quality, beautiful lighting and thoughtful composition. These dogs are not standing around in a grass yard – they are posed, cute and soulful. The photography alone makes me want to adopt them all!
Now take a look at the fantastic video of senior pup, “Bob,” shot by Commercial & Narrative Director, ALLY ZONSIUS. Check out Bob’s little collar, tiny toes, wobbly tail and that big, senior dog yawn. I’m ready to fly to L.A. and pick this guy up, aren’t you? And that’s what the right messaging and great quality imagery can do – incentivize action, which is what every nonprofit aims to do!
SMART MOVE #3 – Frequency
Time and time again, clients tell me they don’t want their social media posts to be annoying so they post to Facebook once a week or only whenever they have “real news”. While I agree that marketing should never be bothersome, what we have to understand is that today’s target audience is consuming hundreds of messages every few minutes – one Facebook post every now and then is simply invisible. It’s called social media for a reason – because it’s social and like every good relationship you have to work at it daily.
In 2011 Social Bakers did a study on Facebook post frequency and the study concluded that anything less than twice per week was a waste of time, while more than twice a day might lose audience ratings. At the time of the study, 5-10 times per week was deemed the appropriate quantity of posts. However, Facebook has changed significantly since then and while there is no magic number, nonprofits need to experiment with their messaging and frequency to see what type of response you get. A Purposeful Rescue posts to Facebook on average three times per day, sometimes more and sometimes less. You can tell by the tone and vigor of their posts that they genuinely enjoy their Facebook audience.
THE FINAL BARK
The successful social media concepts outlined above are doable for any small business or nonprofit organization to emulate. It is important to note that I’ve been a part of A Purposeful Rescue’s tribe for almost six months and never visited their website until I began writing this blog. A Purposeful Rescue is building a community through Facebook and that includes donation-call-to-action. Last night I donated on behalf of Vida, the latest pup to arrive in A Purposeful Rescue’s foster care, and it only took two clicks on Vida’s Facebook post to give my support.
A Purposeful Rescue, well done! You make building an audience and gaining supporters appear effortless – thanks for being a part of my life, three times or more each day.