I have been looking forward to visiting the Nebraska Humane Society all semester, not only to see all of the cute puppies, but also to hear about how Creighton journalism alumna Elizabeth Hilpipre enhanced the organization’s social media presence. During my visit, Elizabeth talked about her efforts to build engagement, and serve animals with social media, especially Facebook.
Since Elizabeth was hired, the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook fans have grown from about 1,000 to more than 50,000. How did she do it? Although Elizabeth humbly admitted she has an easy topic – cute animals – I think her success is largely due to hard work and strategic planning. Not having taken a social media class in college, Elizabeth taught herself everything she needed to know. By analyzing Facebook metrics, Elizabeth found out the majority of the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook fans are in their early twenties. Using that information, Elizabeth planned an event targeted at that demographic. The event, which included live music and free beer, was a massive fundraising success for the organization.
I was surprised to find out that Elizabeth doesn’t schedule the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook posts or tweets using a social media management system, such as Hoot Suite. Instead, Elizabeth uses alerts on her cellphone to remind her when to post. She also is constantly responding to comments. Maintaining the organization’s social media is a 24/7 job, Elizabeth said, but it’s well worth it when her four-legged friends find homes.
I enjoyed hearing about the strategy behind Elizabeth’s social media approach. On the day of our visit, the organization had just started “Operation Boomer;” the goal: Find a home for 2-year-old Pit Bull Boomer. In order to drive people to the site, Elizabeth posted a puppy litter picture less than 24-hours before Operation Boomer began. Just a few hours after posting about Boomer, more than 2,000 people shared the post. While likes and comment are nice, Elizabeth said shares are the most important. This is because it helps the Nebraska Humane Society reach a broader audience, beyond its existing fan base. One day after Operation Boomer began, Boomer was off to test drive a home (talk about a successful social media initiative).
Elizabeth taught me so much about social media in such a short time. After hearing about her experiences, I can honestly say I’m excited about the potential of pursuing social media as a career.