Carolyn Slade, Barbara Hosler, Ibukun Blessing and Kayla Terry
Social Media Strategy – Brazos Pets Alive
July 8, 2013
Social media as we know it today has existed for less than 10 years. Of the more than
seven billion people on the planet, two billion use the Internet, which is a concept that defies the
imagination. What does a billion look like anyway? A billion seconds ago it was 1981. A billion
thimbles of water would fill nearly an Olympic-size swimming pool.1
It is understandable then
that connecting on social media can be overwhelming and intimidating, but it is essential to
building successful relationships in the 21st
century. Brazos Pets Alive is a nonprofit companion
animal welfare and advocacy organization that has recently ventured into the social media arena
to make a difference in the world of animals needing to be rescued from shelters.
Because BPA believes having a 100 percent no-kill rate is possible, their broader
message is to help turn Brazos County into no-kill communities. To accomplish that mission,
they first focus on helping healthy animals, or those who have treatable illnesses or injuries,
through fostering or adoptions. At the same time, their goal is to establish a partnership with
people that are committed to volunteering time, sharing financial resources and spreading
companion animal advocacy education.
Rescuing shelter animals is not like getting animals through a breeder or pet store. Many
animals in shelters have been neglected in some way and often require special care. Therefore,
BPA’s target audience for adoptions should be a demographic that is more established
financially and emotionally so they are prepared to care for a new pet that may have special
needs. Although there can be exceptions, a recommendation would be to avoid targeting younger
people to be adoptive families.
Furthermore, in that Bryan-College Station has a large student population, this group
could be the perfect target audience for volunteers or short-term foster homes. Many students are
looking for ways to serve the community. If BPA were to use social media effectively, there are
thousands of possibilities (a pool of 50,000 students and 800 student organizations that
volunteer) that could impact the way BPA reaches its goals.
The good news is that BPA is already using the best social media channel available –
Facebook! Currently, BPA has more than 350 likes, and the most popular age group visiting its
page is 35 to 44. As already stated, this is a good age range to target for rescue pet adoptions.
Statistics show that the average person on Facebook is between 18 and 29. This audience is not
being reached by BPA for fostering or volunteering opportunities. It is possible to reach this
group by implementing better social media strategies. BPA has done a good job updating its
Facebook regularly with photographs and informational posts. It should remember that staying
current and active is vital to social media success.
BPA has a Twitter account that is essentially inactive. Twitter is the perfect tool for
getting quick messages out to the public. Tweeting once or twice a week could be the perfect
way to begin using this social media platform. Twitter users are typically younger, so BPA might
consider posting notices about volunteer opportunities, foster needs or even retweeting (sharing)
information from other organizations that would be helpful to other Twitter followers.
BPA might consider adding Instagram when time permits. This platform is excellent for
uploading photographs of animals needing to be adopted and can include a short caption.
Instagram is used by primarily 18- to 29-year-olds, and sharing photos with others is very easy to
do. Again, it is important to update the platform regularly.
Two case studies that inspire: Austin Pets Alive and Pawsitively Texas
Austin Pets Alive is a pet welfare organization in Austin, Texas. They could be
considered the industry standard in many ways. With more than 45,000 likes on their Facebook
page, more than 13,000 followers on Twitter, and 2,000 followers on Instagram, they have an
extraordinary network of people in the Austin community who partner with them, including
dozens of businesses.
To highlight why they are so successfully connected to the Austin community, here is an
of their most popular week on Facebook earlier this year. During the first week of
May, the average likes on their page was 224 per day and average number of shares was 33. On
May 11, one post earned 11,985 likes and 1,902 shares. The caption began “Success story: Socks
is a precious one-year-old puppy who came to APA pregnant and alone…” The family who
fostered her kept her safe and helped her bring her babies into the word.
This graphic is a powerful tool that tells a story to the compassionate people in the Austin
community who want to help the “underdog” make it. Clearly, APA understands its audience.
Pawsitively Texas is another pet welfare organization located in north Texas. They have
more than 40,000 likes and are very active on the Facebook platform, posting multiple times
each day. Although they are not on Twitter, they are very effective at networking on behalf on
animals that need to be rescued. They frequently post about animals in distress across the state
and include contact information for the various shelters involved.3
Both of these organizations do very well at establishing relationships with people,
businesses, and other organizations that are involved in the no-kill shelter movement. Their
social media platforms are full of information, inspiration and calls to action.
Voice and tone
Brazos Pets Alive is a nonprofit rescue that wants to reduce the kill rate of strays around
the community. The way they advertise gives off a happy tone and makes one want to adopt one
of the animals on the spot. For instance, all the pictures of the animals on the Facebook feed are
adorable and they look so happy. Most of the pictures are perfect for the Facebook page because
they show the animals interacting with one another and being snuggly at the same time. In
addition to the positive vibe, the tone that comes from their advertisement of the organization is
what encourages people to want to get involved in saving these animals. Looking through Brazos
Pets Alive’s Facebook one notices several pictures of different animals looking like they are the
happiest animals in the world. Not to mention, with the comments explaining the pictures the
voice conveyed in the captions are very positive and persuasive. Almost as if the page were ran
by college students. Also, the voice is very informative about the upkeep of these animals
because the young people that want to adopt might not know a lot about caring for animals. It is
important to keep the voice and tone in that manner for the younger crowds around the
community. The reason being is that Brazos Pets Alive is based in College Station where
students make up the majority of the population. The goal should be to appeal to them, because
they are the ones buying and taking care of pets to use as fellow companions. In all, the
importance of keeping the voice on Facebook young and the tone happy is important to the
success and growth of the organization.
Feature for each media channel
It would be a great idea for the Brazos Pets Alive organization to make weekly features
on Facebook. For example, on Thursdays they could post old pictures of animals along with a
present picture in the same frame and call it Throw Back Thursday.
Throw Back Thursday would allow people browsing through the Brazos Pets Alive
Facebook page to observe some of the animals’ progress in a humorous way. Also, they could
use old pictures of former foster animals to come up with weekly memes of them after they get
adopted just to throw additional humor on their timeline. Ideas such as these could be very
appealing to the younger crowd and will eliminate the cliché of having a sad tone when
referencing foster animals.
Lists of entities to “follow”
The Austin’s Pets Alive Twitter page has a list of 33 followers under the Austin’s Animal
Welfare tab. Brazos Pets alive should be more familiar with followers under this listing. Specific
Twitter users to take note of are: Austin Dog Trainer (https://twitter.com/austindogzone), Austin
Dirty Dog (https://twitter.com/austindirtydog), and Animal Trustees
(https://twitter.com/AnimalTrustees ). These pages give good advice on how to maintain a
healthy and safe lifestyle for several animals. It would be a perk for Brazos Pets Alive to have
support from listings similar to these but from Brazos County. That would be a good way for the
Brazos area animal adopters to get additional information on how to keep up with their pets.
Suggested content strategy
Social media sites that give good instructions on how to care for new animals will be very
helpful for those who want to adopt any newly adopted pet. Animal Trustees
(https://twitter.com/AnimalTrustees) is an amazing listing on Twitter that gives intricate details
on how to extend the life span of newfound animal friends. This website also explains the dos
and don'ts that should be considered when bringing a new pet home.
Going back to the idea of having a young voice with a fun tone to represent Brazos Pets
Alive, it would be exciting to have a different activity planned one day out of every month. The
following are some examples on what could be done each month for a six-month period.
• July - This is Independence month so it will be fun to see people take pictures with their new
adopted animals incorporating a 4th of July theme in the background.
• August - Because this is the month that school resumes, pet owners could send a video of
themselves teaching their pets a new trick. It could range from teaching their puppy a new
command or even teaching their cat how to play with different toys.
• September - In honor of Sept 11, pet owners could show their new animals how much they love
them by having a fun day with them for at least an hour.
• October - To bring out the fun during Halloween it would be a great idea to have Freaky
Fridays. Every Friday people could tag the best pictures of their new pets dressed up in a
costume to the Brazos Pets Alive Facebook page. Then, on Halloween choose the best picture
and the winner might receive either a bag of food or a new toy for their pet.
• November - People could post pictures on Facebook of their favorite thanksgiving dish with
their pet right next to it. They should make sure to tag Brazos Pets Alive so the photo would
show on the timeline.
• December - People can send in videos all month of their pet getting snuggly with Santa Claus
for the holidays. The video should be no longer than thirty seconds and it could also be uploaded
to the Brazos Pets Alive Facebook page.
Measure of performance /ROI
Measurements are taken to help indicate if a company is on the right track and to help
determine the return on investments. It can also help reach the organization’s goals, specify an
audience that may be missing, reach people not reached before and conclude if a campaign was
successful. With the help of social media analytics, calculating performances can be viewed over
different lengths of time; recommended measurements should be checked every other week and
every six months.
Performances that should be measured are:
• Hash tags
• Participation in contests
The goal should be an increase in each area. For instance, if the goal is to gain more
followers after a weeklong campaign, there should be a goal of 25-30 new followers, and after it
is achieved, the results, adoptions or donations, should be compared. Return on investment can
be calculated at the end of a period or after a campaign. For instance, after a month long
campaign, measurements should be collect then compared or divided by the following:
• Foster homes
• Number of adoptions
These help manage and maintain contact with followers and potential volunteers.
Features that are available are social media analytics that help break down who is following you,
manage tweets by setting up tweets to post at a specific time and to keep all of your social media
organized in one platform.
• Basic plan is free
• Manage up to five social media profiles
• Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Foursquare and more
• Social media analytics
• Basic plan is $39/month
• Manage up to 10 profiles
• Publishing features-set up tweets to post later in the day
• Reporting tools-analytics
• Brand mentoring-team members watch what people are saying
about your organization
• Free tool
• Search any word or topic to see its top use, average time per
mention, people’s sentiments, re-tweets and more
Schedule of performance evaluation with adjustment plan
Interest and brand awareness as well as target audience should be built. The goal is to get
people to follow the organization on social media so they can learn about it through posts,
tweets, photos and stories. This would be measured by how many new:
• Facebook page likes
• Twitter followers
• Instagram followers
• Website views (once the website is up and running)
Facebook likes, Twitter followers and Instagram followers are important because that
shows interest in the brand; any like or share of BPA posts will be seen potentially by all of their
friends, which would in turn expand BPA’s reach. Website views would help indicate how many
people are interested in the company, adopting, or want to learn more about how to make Brazos
County a no-kill county.
Follower interaction goes past liking posts by getting involved with Brazos Pets Alive
either through social media or volunteering. Interactions from followers:
• Twitter mentions
• Post photo in contest through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter
• Facebook shares
• Post on Facebook wall
What BPA can do to increase follower interaction:
• Pet contests
• Adopted photo albums
• Photos of available pets and their stories
• Build relationships with local animal shelters
• Drive for no kill shelters
• Post volunteer and donation opportunities
A themed photo contest would help keep the followers involved and interested.
Moreover, it would increase the likelihood of followers staying active for a longer timeframe.
For instance, an active follower might be more likely to volunteer after seeing a post from BPA
for volunteering or foster home opportunities. Furthermore, a strong relationship with local
animal shelters will strengthen the support behind making Brazos County a no-kill county in
addition to saving the lives of homeless animals across the county.
Appropriate graphics for Facebook timeline and thumbnail images
Cover photo and profile picture
At first glance of the Brazos Pets Alive Facebook page, the cover photo stood out. The
dog in the photograph was very precious but the way the photo is cropped made him seem
“Sarah McLachlan-ish.” The feelings associated with this approach make the audience sad and
want to change the channel, or in this case the Facebook page. Instead of having an “oh no, that’s
so sad” moment, it would be better for visitors to the page to say, “that dog or cat is so cute, I
want to take him home with me!” In order to accomplish this, the cover photo could either be
cropped a different way to show a larger portion of the dog, be similar to Austin Pets Alive by
making a photo collage, or be a photo of a happy animal doing a cute activity. Also, the cover
photo could have a version of the logo on the right side and/or a hashtag related to BPA.
The idea for the logo to be the profile picture is a good one because it makes the
Facebook page easily identifiable. Included in this strategy are some designs for new logo
possibilities with several color and font options.
A great way to organize photos of the animals is through albums. The current Facebook
page has already begun to utilize this tool but it can go a step further. The available for adoption
album is great for potential pet owners so they have a single place to look at their options for
pets. This needs to stay as updated as possible and once an animal is adopted their picture can be
moved to a “happy endings” album. If possible, this happy endings album should include
pictures of adopted animals with their new owners. Another type of album that could keep
supporters involved could be an album of photos from each BPA event.
Photographs on posts
In order to engage the audience, a photo should be included with every Facebook post. A
photo makes posts more likely to be shared and in turn will give the page more exposure.
Appropriate photos for posts can vary depending on the tone of the post. For example, if posting
about a pet being recently adopted, post a picture that represents the joy of the new owner. The
majority of the posts for BPA should have this happy tone and therefore have accompanying
joyful images. However, when posting the weekly educational posts it would be appropriate to
have a photo that pulls the audiences’ heartstrings.
Suggestions for how to incorporate social accounts into other marketing methods
The first suggestion to draw attention to the social media sites for BPA is to create a
Twitter hashtag unique to the personality of BPA. Some examples of related hashtags from the
Humane Society are #muttmonday and #felinefriday, which encourages followers to post
pictures of dogs on Mondays and cats on Fridays. Once a hashtag is agreed upon, pet bandanas
could be made with the BPA Facebook page and the Twitter hashtag. These bandanas could be
passed out at dog parks, pet stores and any BPA event to get the word out and also direct traffic
to the social media accounts. Every event attended by pets up for adoption should be wearing
some sort of BPA social media gear.
Because College Station is a college town, there are many students in need of
philanthropy hours for their organizations. This creates the perfect opportunity for BPA to utilize
students to get volunteers. Flyers should be passed out at the sorority or fraternity houses and at
the Memorial Student Center on campus. These flyers should direct organizations to the BPA
Facebook page that where there would be information about volunteer opportunities.
Brazos Pets Alive is doing a great service. There are people who have yet to hear about
BPA and social media is an effective way to reach them. Once the message is delivered, the right
people with hearts to help will partner with BPA to make a difference. Incorporating a more
aggressive social media strategy into an action plan will require a willingness to take a risk as
well as a determination to stay on top of the ever-changing world of technology.
“What's A Few $Billions Or $Trillions More Or Less? Here's The Long And Short Of It,”
Forbes magazine. Larry Bell, Contributor. Feb. 10, 2013.
Austin Pets Alive Facebook post from May 11, 2013
Pawsitively Texas Facebook post from July 7, 2013 – Happy Update!
Designs to consider for new logo
Facebook “About” edits for consideration
Our Mission: To promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate
the killing of companion animals in Brazos Country, encourage the community to become
conscientious pet welfare advocates, and help companion animal owners to be more responsible.
Our current focus is rescuing healthy and treatable pets who are at risk of being killed in a shelter
as well as helping owners who are having problems so great that they need to surrender their
pet(s) to a shelter.
Our passion is to protect the animals that can't speak for themselves. We believe it's completely
possible to help the animals in this wonderful community, but we know we can’t do it alone. We
need dedicated people willing to partner with us to make a difference. ♥
* Adoption – be willing to commit to a loving, long-term, permanent relationship with a rescue
* Volunteers – help transfer animals, dog walkers, [briefly list things volunteers could do]
* Foster – temporarily house and care for animals waiting for permanent families to adopt them
* Sponsor – not sure exactly what a sponsor does ???
* Donate – either monetarily or by donating bags of dry pet food, cat litter, etc. (gifts are tax-
* Educate – sharing the message of rescuing animals and transforming Brazos County into a no-
If you are interested in partnering with us in any way, please email us at
BPA welcomes comments from the Facebook community, Please note that comments seen as
unlawful, obscene, spam or in any way offensive will be removed, as they detract from our
purpose of saving lives. Thank you! This page is run solely by BPA!
We rely strictly on donations, so if you would like to help us help animals, please consider
donating through our YouCaring link or Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org; please make sure
to classify the donation as a "gift"! If you would prefer to mail the donation, please PM us for an
"Sometimes all it takes is a voice, one voice that becomes a hundred, then a thousand, unless it's
silenced". (Newsies, 1994)