The Social Humane Society


After visiting the Nebraska Humane Society and hearing their Development Communications Specialist Elizabeth Hilpipre discuss their metrics, I was initially struck by how different her strategies were from Amanda Brandt’s. While the scopes of their work are different, they use similar tools – if different strategies – to complete their tasks.

Brandt’s strategy seemed more technical, driven by collected data but failing to embrace the social media aspect of the 21st century (which may be rooted in the newspaper industry’s similarly awkward attempts to embrace the internet age). However, while I think her approach is certainly more stark, I believe she is an expert in her field who makes the best of what she works with.

Hilpipre, on the other hand, seemed more open to a trial by fire strategy, using separate tones on different platforms to communicate the formality of her posts. Although it’s impossible to make a good comparison because they work for separate companies, it was immediately apparent to me that their approaches were different.


Town Pets Indicates Domestic Cat And Buildings

Cartoon courtesy of and Stuart Miles

Hilpipre’s tactics are fluid; they change according to the platform she uses, which is admirable from a bystander standpoint, but they also incorporate a “go where the audience is” strategy. She recognizes the necessity of not only being on top of the Humane Society’s accounts but also manipulating them to gain followers. I think this was especially apparent in her use of Snapchat as a way to promote the animals that haven’t been adopted. Her ability to assess the age of a sector of her consumers and then follow them onto their platform of choice, especially when that platform doesn’t provide clear and coherent metrics, demonstrates her expertise in her field.

The best advice she gave was more in her actions than in her words: be flexible. Everything in her social media strategy focuses on going where the consumers are and addressing them on a level that feels personal. She builds off what works, using a more formal tone on Facebook but a more relaxed tone on Snapchat because she knows the platforms’ demographics are distinctive. She creates Facebook event pages to avoid bogging down the Humane Society’s main Facebook page with event posts. Clearly she has built a persona for the Humane Society that is not only functional but malleable, something few other businesses or non-profits have mastered.


Animals, Adoption and Instagram


The SPCA of San Francisco is a nonprofit Instagram that manages their account exceptionally well. Other than being a nonprofit dedicated to animals, which is sure to attract viewers to their Instagram, their captioning of cute photos is topical and informative. They balance the number of informative posts against the number of posts dedicated to finding homes for animals in a way that keeps their audience aware of problems and distracted with adorable animals.

While I’m sure there are plenty of people who adopt rather than buy their animals, it can still be a tough market to corner. There are assumptions of neglect and abuse that stigmatize animals in need of adoption and there are Internet trolls who attack those who have bought animals in the past resulting in further polarization of the market. The SPCA of San Francisco, however, encourages people to adopt but doesn’t demonize those that choose not to.


Photo courtesy of and Joe Targonski

Their Instagram account is also adept at advertising their different social events like Dogs on the Catwalk and Be Mine, which both promote the animals in need of adoption. Unlike most advertising campaigns on Instagram, however, the SPCA uses a gentler touch, sending out reminder posts without overwhelming their page. This tactic of sparse but potent advertising works in their favor because in doing so their account feels substantially more authentic. Occasionally posts that demonstrate the need of the nonprofit rather than the more marketable aspects can bog down nonprofit social media accounts. Suddenly instead of propagating the good the nonprofit is doing, the account only demonstrates the massive size of the problem and a feeling of defeat.

In terms of account value their social media plan is efficient at raising awareness and I think that speaks to a well-managed and effective social media campaign strategy. It strikes me that although they don’t post everyday, their strategy remains potent because they get their message across. Additionally because they often have animals in their pictures it’s hard to only look at one post. I think the main message I received (other than adoption rules!) is that social media campaigns have to have an inherent attraction to them that makes people want to read more, especially if they aren’t compulsively posting. Overall, I like their strategy and the beauty of their account, however simplistic it may be.