By Kay Stout

Woman with Apple iphone smartphone and pet. Social media can be a valuable tool in animal rescue when it comes to influencing decision-makers.
Social media can be a valuable tool in animal rescue when it comes to influencing decision-makers.
Photo by cottonbro on
cheerful young female owner petting cat and using smartphone on bed
Using social media tools like Facebook can go a long way in strategically reaching the right audience online.

Photo by Sam Lion on

Thanks to the handful of Harvard University students who founded Facebook, thousands of Oklahoma dogs and cats have found new homes. And, most recently, I witnessed the political power of Facebook.

The goal was to have the HVAC fixed, a new anesthesia machine purchased and two additional employees were part of the city budget – an adoption coordinator and a front-desk receptionist. It passed!

A few years ago, in that same city, I’d been involved with concerned citizens who wanted a city ordinance that all dogs and cats within the city limits would be “fixed” – this was before Facebook had become the connection for so many nonprofit organizations.

Meetings were held, a strategy was accepted, and we showed up in full force. When it came time for the council members to speak, one of them said, “You can fix my females, but you’re not fixin’ my males.” And that was the end of months of efforts and meetings.

This time they were better organized and the full power of a well-written “call-to-action” post on the right Facebook page was a key factor to the above success. Yes, a lot of groundwork had gone on behind the scenes for a long time, but one well-written post on the advocacy page with a plea to please share had an organic reach of 50K. The voters were encouraged to make calls and write emails. That number was a key factor in the impact on the elected officials’ decisions.

The icing on the cake? Two television stations covered the meeting! Congratulatory remarks in the press and “thank you” emails/letters to the council members will go a long way to cement their decision. It is always about the “personal touch.” Polite, educational communication before the vote gets to the committee and/or makes it to the floor are key to success. Equally important is building rapport with your elected officials and their executive assistants. A good executive assistant is like the executive secretary before computers and the internet were viable.

Want to make a difference? Do not leave an impression of hostility, frustration or anger. It is human nature that they will try to avoid you, your emails, and text messages if you’ve gotten in their face and yelled. Justified? Maybe. Do it? Never, except on rare occasions.

Think about it. How do you react when someone has been in your face, yelling at you? You’d have your defenses up whenever you see them. They call you – you may not call them back. Easy to do? Absolutely NOT. Worth it? Absolutely YES!

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