This past Wednesday we got the opportunity to visit the Nebraska Humane Society. We met with former Creighton grad Elizabeth Hilpipre, who currently serves as the Development and Communications Specialist at the Omaha location. This visit really opened my eyes into what a position in media might look like after graduation. After discussing different ways in which companies use social media to expand their brand, it was interesting to be able to see first hand how this non-profit organization is able to get their message across to different users.
During our visit, Elizabeth spent time discussing how she specifically uses social media in order to measure the level of engagement within their followers. She admitted to us that posting funny and more lighthearted content early in the morning was key, as this is what drew the most traffic to their site. She then suggested posting photos of older dogs that need adoption- or generally some of their more serious content- later in the afternoon, because the traffic from the morning would still be directed to the site. This is one aspect of her presentation that I found to be quite an insightful takeaway. She also revealed to us that they sometimes bought ads on their Facebook and Instagram accounts, because they specifically wanted to boost this content. Being a non-profit company can be challenging in this pay-to-play industry.
This visit was also the perfect example of how a company can use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Google analytics to really crunch the numbers and see who their target audiences are and what they want from content. While being aware of your users was something that Elizabeth stressed, she also mentioned the immeasurable aspects of social media that you can never really plan for. For instance, Gage- a sheep who just happened to be dropped off at the humane society dressed in a Christmas sweater- is the perfect example of this. No matter how much money you spend on advertising or promoting your content, you will always have rare instances that something will go viral. While this kind of attention is never planned, it does help immensely with free promotion.
I believe that one of the most important takeaways from our visit is how important engagement with your followers is. For example, the Humane Society created a Snapchat that they use to take photos of the animals that need adoption, but include funny captions and a sense of humor so that they can attract a global audience, which is what they now have. Another thing that they do on their Facebook and Twitter pages is post photos of animals that frequent followers engage with, so that the reader feels like it is a genuine relationship with the company- not like they are communicating with a robot.
I think that my main lesson learned from this presentation is that just because you own a non-profit company in a small town in Nebraska, that doesn’t mean that social media is not an amazing tool that you can use to your advantage. Elizabeth has mastered the art of using her resources in an effective and skillful way- and she has identified the Nebraska Humane Society’s key message and used it to build a genuine platform. She has created a loyal community for her business, which is exactly what the goal of social media is. I think that this visit to the Nebraska Humane Society was such a valuable experience, and I am glad that we got to see how a company successfully utilizes their media presence.