With many of our everyday activities shifting online, social media plays a critical role in connecting horses with adoptive homes. Adopters are quickly adapting to the digital environment and are expecting to interact and engage with adoption groups and horses online.
Here are 13 tips from several social media savvy adoption organizations to get adopters lining up outside your (virtual) barn door.
Try TikTok and Instagram Reels
Short-form entertainment videos are becoming increasingly popular, especially with Instagram’s algorithm favoring Reels over other content and TikTok continuing to grow in size and influence. Both platforms allow you to use popular sounds or hop on popular trends with 15-60 second videos. There is no shortage of funny, inspiring, or creative videos you can produce to showcase your available equines or highlight the work your organization does. From happy tails, like this one from the ASPCA, or just general horse care videos like this one from Win Place Home, these videos will help you reach a larger audience and potentially reach adopters outside of your network.
Once you’ve published your video, you can easily share a Reel or TikTok video to Instagram Stories to get even more eyes on it.
Try Facebook’s live video feature to give your followers a new look into your organization’s work. Going live is an excellent way to boost engagement, increase the number of views, show behind-the-scenes content, and answer questions in real-time. Try showing some of your adoptable horses being handled, groomed, and ridden. Give your potential adopters a chance to get to know one of your horses and decide if they’re the #RightHorse for them! Nexus Equine schedules a daily live video showcasing their horses, facility, and program—and it’s worked! They’ve seen a record number of adoptions and foster homes engage with their organization since they started this practice.
Give It a Boost
Consider boosting posts that are performing well on Facebook and turning them into paid ads. Or, create a paid ad promoting a specific horse, your organization, or to attract new supporters! Boosted posts and paid ads can be budgeted according to specific goals and can help reach a larger number of potential adopters. Facebook and Instagram provide in-depth targeting capabilities. You can target donors, horse owners, or even riders interested in a specific discipline in your community. With a little pre-planning, you can turn a budget as small as $5 into new adopters and supporters of your work. Get more tips for launching a Facebook paid campaign.
Most rescues agree that photos are a powerful way to show the benefits of adoption and drive engagement on social media platforms. Horses Without Humans Rescue Organization (HWH) took in a tough case of 19 emaciated horses. Dubbed “The Bone Yard,” the team at HWH was transparent with their audience and chronicled the journey of rehabbing, and eventually rehoming the horses. The horses gained national attention and drove incredible support and resources to the organization. Each horse recovered and will find an adoptive home. Sharing daily photos and stories of your available and adopted horses is a compelling way to grow your audience.
Tell a Story
Love This Horse Equine Rescue uses video storytelling to find homes for horses. Through videos, the organization captures each horse's personality and progress in training, and as a result, they’ve seen an increase in adoption interest. They’re especially clever at capturing video-worthy material on the fly and have a library of videos of their horses on the trails or at the beach. These clips engage potential adopters and highlight the horse’s capabilities in a variety of environments.
Understand the Audience
To better target your audience, know who your audience is and how it might change depending on the social media platform. Through analytics, New Vocation Racehorse Adoption Program identified demographics of followers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Based on the different demographics, they created tailored content for each platform to achieve better performance. Check out these examples of a Tweet and Instagram post that were custom-designed for each audience.
Create an Online Community
Organizations like Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society have found success in cultivating a sense of community and involvement through Facebook groups. Take a look at their general group with over 1,000 members. Whether it’s a group for potential adopters waiting for their match or recent adopters looking for advice or sharing updates, a group is a powerful way to engage in two-way dialogue with the community and build long-lasting relationships. It’s also a valuable support system that will help your organization stand out.
Try Instagram and Facebook Stories
With Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm, Stories are a great way to increase views and keep your community informed and engaged. With Stories, your organization can host virtual adoption events showcasing all the individual available equines, promote adoption specials or events, or simply share the joy of owning a horse. You can upload as many images and videos as you have the bandwidth to and add stickers like polls and Q&As to help animate and increase engagement. Colorado Horse Rescue has several Instagram highlights featuring events, trainer tips, fun at CHR, and more! Click through and get inspiration to start sharing Stories!