Facebook: The Smart Advocate’s Tool
Social media is an increasingly valuable tool for the animal protection movement to be able to share information with a wide audience without having to rely on traditional, expensive media channels. But as the reach of social media grows, so too does the amount of content we have to compete with to get our message heard. Fortunately, researchers are gathering information to help us understand how we can stand out from the crowd.
Mercy for Animals have published a study titled “How to Dominate Facebook.” In it they look at how social media can be harnessed by animal advocates to leverage their cause on Facebook—which they call “the greatest platform animal advocates have for exposing the cruelty of factory farming and promoting vegan eating.” The researchers analyzed information from more than 1,600 posts generated by Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, Vegan Outreach, and HSUS’s Farm Animal Protection Department to find out which posts outperformed the rest. The chief metric they used to assess performance was the number of impressions. Though they also see value in assessing a post’s impact, this aspect was not explored in this study.
Based on their findings, MFA has issued nine recommendations for those advocates who campaign about farmed animals issues on Facebook. We have reposted the list here with a few key takeaways:
- Post tons and tons of Facebook videos. Then post some more. The research found that videos resulted in 130% more impressions than photos, and photos generated 20% more impressions than links.
- Make people feel something, especially sadness, anger, amusement, or nausea. The findings showed that posts that conjure up emotions such as these received 80% more impressions than more “neutral” posts.
- Use fewer than 10 words. The study showed 30% more impressions were generated by using posts of 10 words or less when compared to those with 11-25 words.
- Ask for shares, not likes or comments. A call to action to share a post increased impressions by 20% when compared to not including this request. Surprisingly, posts encouraging comments or “likes” had even fewer impressions than those without any call to action.
- Quote often. The researchers found that posts with quotes generated 40 % more impressions than those without.
- Link to a news article, not a blog, when you want more traffic. News article links generated 60% more impressions than blog post links according to the findings.
- If it’s about an animal, make it a baby. The study found that posts with very young farmed animals received 20% more impressions than those with adult farmed animals.
- Farmed animal + companion animal = win. The data suggests that posts pairing a companion animal (such as a dog or a cat) with a farmed animal did well when it came to increasing impressions.
- Post food and meme photos. Pictures of food resulted in 40% more impressions than photos of animals.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully increasing awareness of animal issues online. Likewise, there are some important caveats mentioned in the full write-up that are worth taking into consideration when advocating for animals on Facebook.