There are very few people we come in contact with who don’t have a Facebook account; even senior citizens are getting in on social networking, something we’d never have predicted just a few short years ago. But it’s not just Facebook — we also have MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, delicious, LinkedIn, personal blogs, Examiner columns (of course), and countless other mediums with which to connect to our friends, peers, family, colleagues, and even complete strangers. With the onslaught of smartphones, iPads, and the like that keep us connected to the outside world at all times, it should be obvious how we can use these tools to help animals; in fact, many of you might already utilize these methods without even realizing how much of an impact you’re making.
Think about it — a quick Facebook status update or picture will reach not only all of your friends, but all of their friends as well, should they choose to repost it. Your Tweets can be re-tweeted and shared with a virtually limitless number of people. You get the picture. So the more we can share about animal welfare, the more people we will reach, and we might end up helping animals everywhere — hopefully even saving thousands of lives. It’s a prescription for success.
And we don’t have to do all the work, because organizations like Petfinder.com and Best Friends Network have easily searchable and sharable information in their databases on animals available for adoption, where to find local shelters, and how to get involved in animal welfare causes that mean the most to you. It certainly wouldn’t be the first (or anywhere near the last) time social media is used for charitable purposes; the “Keep a Child Alive” campaign has been a rousing success that we can take some tips from.
“First and foremost, reach as many people as you can over the Internet. Network and connect with people who support the same cause as you,” said social media blogger Christopher Decker of Get Socialnomical, a blog that focuses on the significant impact of social media on society. Decker is also the Philadelphia Social Media Examiner. “I’m a firm believer that if you can reach one person, you can reach a million people.”
So what can you do to help?
Glad you asked.
- The first step is discovering exactly what it is you want to promote, and unfortunately, there are a plethora of available topics on animal welfare that need immediate attention. If every person chose one or two issues they wanted to get involved in, we’d make a lot of progress.
- Join lots of Facebook fan pages and Twitter profiles that discuss the issues you’re interested in. And that means lots. You will get constant news feed updates about everything going on in the world pertaining to this issue, and you will easily be able to share the content with your networks.
- Sign up for animal welfare alerts on Google and from all the websites you’re using for your research. You can set daily emails to come to you with all the news on that issue currently taking place.
- Write. Start a blog, comment on other blogs or friends’ posts. Get your opinion out there because you never know who might see it and do something about it based on your motivating words.
- Don’t be shy. Tell people if they should be doing something more to help animals. Report cases of abuse, strays, and negligence. Suggest ways for pet owners to be better owners, if need be. Simply handing an unknowing neighbor or friend a pamphlet on spaying or neutering can prevent countless unwanted pregnancies (and in the long run, unnecessary shelter euthanizations).
The world is literally, in all senses of the words, at our fingertips. Within seconds, we are connected to hundreds of millions of people through the networks we build. Let’s take advantage of them, in the name of animals.
“People are really starting to grasp the power of social media. Businesses use it to promote their products and services, all from a monetary standpoint,” said Decker. “Animal welfare organizations, on the other hand, use social media not to raise money but to raise awareness. Personally, I believe this is more beneficial to humanity.”
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