Social Media Tips for the Best Friends Animal Society Could Help News Organizations

By: Katie Sheridan

Dogs across America owe Frank Barry their now-comfortable lives. Literally. Because of Barry’s social media knowledge, many dogs have been adopted.

Avril, a dog from the Best Friends Animal Shelter, is just one of the thousands of dogs that Barry is trying to help. Photo by Brian George via Flickr

Twitter and Facebook have become a major tool for companies and news organizations to engage with their customers. Now non-profit organizations like the Best Friends Animal Society are trying their technique.

In a Mashable article titled, “How One Company Saved Thousands of Dogs Using Social Media,” Barry gives a few pointers on how he helped the Best Friends Animal Society. Through Twitter and Facebook, Barry jump-started BFAS’s Invisible Dogs campaign to increase the number of adopted dogs and animal shelter volunteers.

He urges organizations to use hashtags and encourage people to take part through pictures and pledges.

Using hashtags helps people connect with others and inform them about the Invisible Dogs campaign. Barry’s goal is to make the campaign become ubiquitous because someone can’t participate in a campaign he or she doesn’t know about.

Barry also asks those who know about the campaign to share photos and stories of shelter dogs and their own adopted dogs. He hopes people will have more drive to help shelter dogs if they get to know the dogs. People can also pledge through social media to adopt or walk a shelter dog.

And Barry’s efforts seem to be working as many people have pledged and posted for the cause.

News organizations may be able to learn something from this charity’s success. Through hashtags and customer involvement, news companies might be able to further themselves as well.

Barry admits in the article that giving so much control to people through posts and pictures could prove dangerous, but he believes the benefit will outweigh the risk in the end. Giving people the chance to contribute to news stories with photos and anecdotes could get more people interested in the news; but contribution could have grave consequences as well.

Do you think news organizations could use Barry’s suggestions to boost their own name? What would be the consequences for a news organization if they let readers add to their stories with their own media? Would readers become more interested if they could be directly involved with a news organization’s coverage of a story? What is the difference between BFAS’s risk of letting people contribute and news organizations’? Some news organizations allow their customers to send them pictures, which the news crew sorts through and picks the photos they like best; what if these news crews did not filter the images?

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