preparing this article, this writer set off on a Google search, paused for
awhile at Pinterest, followed a trail to YouTube, took a left at Tumblr, and
wound up in the Facebook vortex, watching a video on The Onion before
remembering the original mission.
how it goes for millions of us, every hour of every day. Browsing, texting, tweeting, posting,
sharing, friending (unfriending), following . . . whatever the verb, we’re an
active bunch out there in the virtual world.
recent Nielsen study reported that the amount of time spent on social media
increased 21 percent in 2012 over the previous year, and that number is expected
to rise, especially as social media has become more inclusive to people across
the age spectrum, and as mobile networking has grown astronomically.
of this will surprise Spot readers, many of whom are active in Spot’s own
social mediasphere: commenting on a
tweeted article, Liking the bejesus out of a too-cute-for-words photo that
Vonnie (Spot’s social media manager)
posted on Facebook, alerting us
to an animal-related event, and of course, sharing photos of animals in need.
in the animal world who is active in social media has logged on to find their
newsfeed filled with posts about animals in need of homes, shelters requesting
volunteers, supplies or donations, petitions to sign, fundraising appeals, and
thankfully, plenty of happy photos of pets in the arms of their newfound
media, and particularly Facebook, has allowed shelters, rescues and animal
activists to exponentially grow their communities, expanding the reach of their
missions and, for some, attracting new donors and volunteers.
Grappasonno, Program Communications Coordinator at Multnomah County Animal
Services (MCAS) says that while absolute numbers are difficult to ascertain she
feels MCAS has reached people they may not have otherwise through Facebook and
Twitter — the two channels they primarily use.
“Social media has increased attendance at our events and volunteer
orientations,” she says. “It has also
enabled us to meet specific needs. If we
put a call out on Facebook for towels and blankets, we can be sure someone will
show up willing to help.” Grappasono
adds, “Being able to directly engage and communicate with the public is both
extremely valuable and very cost effective.
Social media enables us to let the community know that our shelter
exists and what we do.”
Dog Rescue’s (ODR) Barbara “Bobbi” Roach, agrees. “Social media has allowed us to interact with
our followers on a more as needed and personal basis.”
Roach says that over the past year ODR’s posts
of specific needs lists on Facebook have brought supplies and volunteers to
their door, including one follower who made a sizable cash donation to replace
the shelter’s flooring — giving ODR great financial relief. “For every item donated,” says Roach, “that’s
money going toward another dog’s medical needs.”
Roach also credits Facebook for an increasing number of
young people volunteering to walk dogs and hold fundraising events at their
schools. “They use social media
religiously to communicate and I think our strong Facebook presence helps them
relate to us and closes that age gap,” she says.
welcome increase in volunteers and donations notwithstanding, the bottom line
of every shelter is to find homes for the animals in their care, and social
media has been a boon here as well.
quick perusal of the Family Dogs New Life (FDNL) Facebook page shows several
photos of recently adopted dogs, along with an inspiring report on the dogs
who’ve found forever homes in recent months.
While it’s difficult to distill hard numbers for adoptions directly
resulting from social media, FDNL Shelter Director Tasha Giacomazzi says she
does feel their Facebook presence has made a difference.
took a couple of years of an active Facebook page before we really started
noticing a true increase in adoptions that came from that,” says
Giacomazzi. “The cool part is when
people are following our page and reach the point where they’re ready to adopt,
they choose to come to Family Dogs.”
Giacomazzi also notes that the ease of posting photos means people keep
in touch long after adopting through FDNL.
“They’re posting pictures of dogs in their new homes, giving feedback,
and allowing us to stay in the dogs’ lives.
It’s been fun to see that increase in our community over the last few
Roach appreciates that social networking has increased the number of potential
adopters viewing a particular dog.
“There are numerous stories of how posting a plea has resulted in a dog
being rescued,” she says, adding that in a typical week, ODR’s posts are seen
by approximately 8500 people.