Creativity During a Crisis: Building Connection Through Social Media

In the midst of crisis, uncertainty and a global pandemic where everything in the animal welfare world seems to change on a daily basis, how do you maintain a level of engagement on social media, while still conveying the important information that you need to share with your supporters?

At KC Pet Project, we’ve been shifting our policies and procedures throughout the past month, often changing the way we do things multiple times a day. It’s been a constant uphill climb and at one point, our team got together and said, “we still need to figure out a way to be creative”. Here are a few ways we’re engaging with our followers right now:

 

Instagram Foster Takeover Days

With an entire population of pets now living in foster homes, our entire marketing plan has shifted to helping these pets find forever homes. We’ve been working to build a new resources page for our fosters (www.kcpetproject.org/fosterresources) for tips on bio writing, taking photos, training ideas and more, but the reality is that we are working a lot with brand new fosters to our organization and teaching them all of our processes as quick as we can.

We’ve asked some of our fosters families to help us with KC Pet Project Instagram Takeover Days. We put together cute graphics to announce the pet taking over our page and gave our fosters the account information and some direction on what to post. We started with a 7-year-old foster named Barbara Jean and her foster posted what a “day in the life of Barb” has been like. It was super cute and well received! Next up, will be a takeover by a longtimer cat in foster and we hope to continue with this for the next few weeks.

 

 

Tweetalong Behind the Scenes

For our Tweetalong, we post everything that happens at the shelter in just one day: strays that come in, medical cases while they’re getting treated, playgroups in action, owner surrenders as they come in, surgeries your clinic is performing, kittens that are being bottle-fed, pets who are getting adopted or going back home to their owners…everything! And at this time of uncertainty and in some cases, boredom, a tweetalong serves to not only inform but entertain followers.

 

 

Easy Facebook Posts

For a really easy post, we just asked people to share their pet’s day that day using gifs. It had a lot of engagement and was super entertaining for us and for our followers. With social distancing and shutdowns so prevalent, people seem not just more willing to engage with these kinds of posts, but hungry for a moment of true social interaction. Now more than ever it's important to remember that social media posts should be a two-way conversation — so respond to their GIFs, reply to comments, and maintain that sense of true interaction.

 

 

Zoom Virtual Tours for Students

Though not directly associated with social media, we’re also trying to be a resource for learning opportunities for virtual classrooms now that schools will be closed for the year in our community. Before Covid-19, we had multiple school tours and Girl Scout troop visits planned at our campus, and we unfortunately had to cancel them all. Our Community Education Coordinator instead has set up virtual tours where we host Zoom meetings with these groups to show them the campus, talk about ways that they can get involved (even from home), and promoting humane education. These have been well received by the participants and the teachers have been appreciative of some creative lesson plan ideas.

 

 

Instagram Coloring Pages

Our marketing team came up with a cute concept of putting together fun coloring pages to add to our list of education materials when we’re working with kids both in the shelter and in classrooms.

With so many people at home right now and on social media, we decided to start putting these up on our Instagram stories to have people color them in and post them. People colored them in and posted them to their Instagram stories, which turned out to be really cute. So far, we have a dog and a cat version (both of former KCPP pets), and these were designed in Adobe Illustrator by our marketing intern.

 

 

 

The bottom line is that it’s ok to still be creative during a time of crisis. So many people right now are working from home, home-schooling, are out of work, and need a bit of light-hearted entertainment and distractions throughout the day. If it helps pets find homes at the same time or engages more people with your mission, then it’s a win-win!

 

 

Many thanks to Tori for taking the time to share these amazing ideas! Want more examples of interactive content to help inspire?

Animal Welfare League of Arlington has been doing a weekly story time via Facebook Live

Queen Anne's County Animal Services shares enrichment ideas to keep pets at home entertained

Greenville Humane will help you find your inner cat name

Southern Pines Animal Shelter does a weekly What Am I Wednesday?

Animal Humane Society is playing quarantine bingo: pet edition with their followers

BARCS is offering a home yoga practice with pets via Facebook Live

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Tori Fugate

Tori Fugate

Tori Fugate is the Chief Communications Officer for KC Pet Project. Tori's role has enabled her to build the nonprofit organization's brand and promote its mission from inception to what it is today. She oversees all marketing, events, web management, social media, and media relations. She enjoys the opportunity to promote KC Pet Project and its pets through social media and in print, radio and television appearances on a local and national level. Questions? Email Tori at Tori.Fugate@kcmo.org.

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