They Did It: Built a Successful Social Media Presence to Adopt Out More Horses
Social media has become an invaluable tool for promoting equine adoptions and building an audience of supporters. COVID-19 has moved many day-to-day activities online, and potential adopters are now expecting to interact with horses online.
We talked with Ford about New Vocation's ongoing success using social media and the tips and tricks that make their social media presence stand out.
Q: During a pandemic, you just had a record-breaking month of adoptions. For decades, you've used a model of low-contact adoptions very successfully. What changes have you recently made that could account for this incredible increase in adoptions?
The main change we made recently was the addition of our daily meet-and-greets on Facebook live, which then we shared on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. The other change was that we lowered all our fees to between $0-$1000. We just recently sent out a survey to our 60 adopters in April to see why they adopted from us at this time. The results were rather interesting and showed 65% choose to adopt based on finally finding the right match, 9% due to our lowered fees, and 6% said it was because they had more time.
Overall we have seen an increase in viewership on all of our social media platforms since the shutdowns started. I have to think the fact that many people are working from home translates to them being on social media more. Our survey showed that 70% of the adopters were still working.
Q: What social channels do you use, and why? Which are the most beneficial?
We use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. All are effective in different ways. Facebook is still the most beneficial and is seeing the highest viewership, especially with the addition of Facebook live.
Q. How do you tailor your content to the different platforms?
Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube tend to be more of our adopter audience, and Twitter is our racing industry audience. There is a crossover, but we do tend to cater our posts to those audiences. For example, we post horses for adoption on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and then on Twitter, we post success stories, thank-yous, supporters, and newsworthy information.
Q: You consistently have great photos, quality videos, and engaging biographies of your horses. What information do you think is most important for all groups to include in their descriptions?
We feel that you must present the horses at their best. We spend a lot of time and resources to ensure we have good quality photos and videos for all our horses. As for descriptions, the more information you can provide, the better. You never know what type of information is going to be important to each person who reads it. So, the more, the better!
Our survey showed that 81% of the adopters watched our Facebook live videos, and 77% said that Facebook live helped them decide to adopt.
Q: Your Facebook lives have a phenomenal reach and reception in the equine community. What preparation, staffing, and pre-planning go into making these videos?
There seems to be a draw to watching something live. Most of our videos on our website are just of the horse being ridden. The live videos are a mixture. I think seeing the horse and hearing firsthand from the featured horse's handler/rider gives a better and new perspective. We also can't edit the live videos, so they get a feel as if they are there with the horse.
As for preparation, we typically decide a day before who the next meet-and-greet will be, but sometimes it's only four hours prior, as things change out at the farm daily. Our trainers decide who they want to talk about and then organize how it will be filmed. We have done videos with just one person doing both the talking and filming, but most of our videos require two people, one for the camera and one to talk about the horse or ride the horse. We film them on our iPhones and post them as soon as the video is complete.
Q: What advice would you give to other groups looking to expand their social media presence to engage potential adopters?
Any time that they can spend on taking photos and videos for social media is time well spent. If possible, having one person organize the posts and content is helpful. We have a lot of people on our team taking photos and videos, but one person organizes all of it and posts it.
I would definitely recommend doing the Facebook live videos even if it's just one or two a week. Our survey showed that 81% of the adopters watched our Facebook live videos, and 77% said that Facebook live helped them decide to adopt.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about using social media to help horses find homes?
Be willing to try something new, whether it's with photos, videos, or Facebook live. We really didn't know what we were doing when we started the Facebook live and then just figured out what worked and what didn't. It's good to try different things. That was the only way to find out what people enjoyed seeing the most from us. Some of the videos that we thought were below par ended up being our highest viewed videos.