Social Media to the Rescue!

Social Media to the Rescue!

A young couple split up, moved out of their home, and abandoned their 4-legged family member in the apartment they left behind. When the landlord found the dog, she took him to the vet. After he was checked out, the dog was posted on social media with a caption similar to: 

Whoever picks him up and covers his vet bill can have him.

The next day I had a new best friend, now known as Tonka. Almost eight years later, and I love him more than ever. He is my whole world, and I am forever grateful to the lady who rescued him. 

Meet Tonka!

Photo Source (H. Danson, personal photograph, June 16, 2020)

Stories like Tonka’s happen all the time, all over the world, and not all come with happy endings. While shelters are definitely still around, the luckier ones end up in dog rescues. 

Dog rescues are mainly run by volunteers, working in their free time, and with a lot of fundraising. But the work that they do, couldn’t possibly have a price tag attached. So, here are three ways that social media has helped local dog rescues!

1. Create Awareness!

Social media, regardless of which platform, can be used for creating awareness of the great work rescues do. It is a way for them to show photos and videos of the dogs in their care, as well as to show the horrific situations and conditions dogs may have come from. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) had a survey conducted by Edge Research which showed extremely positive results for dog rescues using social media. In fact, in 2018 they saw incredible growth in their awareness as well as in overall adoptions (ASPCA, 2018)!

Not only does social media help create awareness about the work and dogs within the rescues, it also helps create awareness of animal welfare problems. If you are like me and follow any dog rescue groups on social media, I am sure you can join me in saying that you too have seen so many stories about backyard breeders and the horrific conditions dogs are kept in for financial gain, stories about animals being stolen or given away only to be used for dog fighting, and about the Breed Specific Legislation and how dogs are being put down simply for looking “Pitbull like”. Rescues do a lot of work for the dogs in their care, but through social media, they have also created awareness and advocate for all animal’s wellbeing. 

2. Fundraise!

Social Media is a great way to fundraise for any cause near to your heart, and Dog Rescues can certainly vouch for that! Many have taken to social media to host silent auctions (I am a sucker for a silent auction that benefits a furry face) or to promote their crowd-funding initiative for their rescue or a particular dog’s emergency situation.  In my interview with Tanya from Sit With Me Dog Recuse, she mentions, “Social media has helped us in raising funds for dogs in need of above average care. Pictures say a thousand words, so being able to share on a moment’s notice when a situation is urgent has been a huge means for connecting to the community for financial and volunteer support.” (T. Beauchemin, personal communication, June 19, 2020). 

In an interview with Veronica from Bullies In Need Dog Rescue, she mentions “We can post a GoFundMe Campaign like​ Toonie Tuesdays and Five-dollar Fridays and the people that contribute are worldwide – which is amazing!” (V. Mercier, personal communication, June 19, 2020).

Social Media can also be used to advertise local fundraising events – just another fantastic opportunity to reach out to your demographic and enlist support or find new homes for those deserving pups! 

3. Find more Adoptive Homes!

Finding the perfect, forever home for an adoptable dog is so important in the adoption process. Posting these dogs on their social media platforms can reach so many potential homes. Veronica from Bullies In Need Dog Rescue, mentions in an interview “One like or share can reach hundreds, if not thousands of people in a way that store adoption events never could”. (V. Mercier, personal communication, June 19, 2020).

There are many requirements a family must meet in order to adopt a rescue dog. Besides being able to physically and financially care for the dog, in some cases your geographic location also plays a factor. Both the rescue groups I spoke to mentioned that due to the Breed Specific Legislation, rescues in Ontario also rely heavily on social media to reach adoption families in geographic areas (outside of Ontario) where they will be safe. 

Video Source (Sit With Me Rescue, 2019)

Social media has become an incredible tool for charities around the world. I know my best friend and I wouldn’t have found each other without the help of social media. I think Tanya from Sit With Me Rescue says it best: 

“Our social media audience literally helps us save lives”.

(T. Beauchemin, personal communication, June 19, 2020).

Do you have a rescue dog and what is their story? If you don’t, would you consider rescuing one in the future? Tell me about your pups in the comments below!

Sources:

ASPCA. (2018, October 9). New Research Points to Social Media as Important Tool for Animal Shelters and Rescues. ASPCA. Retrieved on June 19, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/about-us/press-releases/new-research-points-social-media-important-tool-animal-shelters-and-rescues

Bullies In Need Dog Rescue. (n.d. 2020). [Facebook Page]. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/bulliesinneed/

Sit With Me Rescue. (n.d. 2020) [Facebook Page]. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/sitwithmerescue/

Sit With Me Rescue. (2019, April 26). [Facebook Post] Elloise’s Happily Ever After. Sit With Me Rescue. Retrieved on June 19, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/sitwithmerescue/videos/418147308972110/

Promotion:

Facebook: Social Media to the Rescue! Read about how social media helps local dog rescues here: https://bit.ly/3hS24Hp

Twitter: Read about 3 PAWSOME ways social media helps dog rescues here: https://bit.ly/3hS24Hp  #DogRescues #SaveLives

Buying In: Social Media & Brand Loyalty

Source: Danson, H. Personal Photography. (2020, June 12)

From its seven-slot grill to its well-known round headlights – there is just something about a Jeep® and the community that loves it! What started as an army vehicle, has grown into a large community of off-road enthusiasts. The #JeepLife is my life. 

I, like many other people, have a strong brand loyalty to Jeep®, in a way that other people have brand loyalty to their car, clothing, or perfume. The Jeep® community has changed so much in their over 75 years of existence. Social media has taken the small, local, parking lot community and has grown it to worldwide, largescale community, more commonly known as The #JeepLife. 

My #JeepLife: I had always wanted a Jeep®, from as young as I can remember, I thought they were the coolest vehicles on the road. I loved seeing them, especially in the summertime with their roof and doors off, I always remember thinking, “There could be no better vehicle to drive!”.

In my late 20’s I finally joined the Jeep® Community when I purchased my very first Wrangler®. I joined all the social media Jeep® groups I could find; local groups, world-wide groups, groups only for women, I couldn’t tell you how many I joined! I also went to some local Jeep® Meets in Ottawa. What a fantastic community to be a part of!  

The Evolution of the Jeep® Community: I suppose in the history of Jeep®, there has always been groups you can join. The original groups would have met in local parking lots with local Jeepers, they would compare vehicles, share ideas, and talk about modifications they were working on. As time progressed, and social media began to be more commonly used, the Jeep® groups and pages also emerged!  Now we have the ability to meet Jeepers from anywhere. In my experience, these groups are like expanded versions of the original parking lot groups. People offer suggestions on where to buy parts, how to install them, they even share videos of themselves installing parts so that others can learn from them. They are truly one large, interactive community. 

It doesn’t really matter where you go in the world, it is pretty likely you will find other Jeepers. The Jeep® community is a group of people dedicated to building bigger and better off-road machines. They work together, they build together, they banter with each other, but at the end of the day, they are kind of like one large second family.

Jeep® Brand Loyalty: Once a Jeeper, always a Jeeper? Personally, I have to agree! However, I think a lot of that has to be credited to the impressive work that Jeep® has done with their social media, and the strong brand loyalty they have created. 

The Jeep® Facebook Page alone has a following of well over 6 million followers (Jeep, 2020), and an overwhelming following of over 13 million across all of their social media platforms (Hills, 2020).  In fact, in 2018, Jeep® was the first automotive brand to ever achieve ‘Cult Brand’ Honoree status (Hills, 2018). 

One of the things Jeep® does really well in social media, is their use of consumer photos in their social media. If you scroll down their Facebook page, you will notice that a lot of their content is photos from owners, with proper photo credit, then on each post is several hundred comments from other owners and their pictures, accompanied by many interactions between the customers and Jeep® – they always keep the conversation going. 

Jeep® makes really good use of Hashtags – which is another form of building community. They use the typical #TBT and #FeatureFriday, but they also have their own hashtags, such as #JeepLife and #StayOffTheRoad. In the earlier days of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Jeep® began using the hashtag #StayOffTheRoad as their own way of asking people to stay home and stay safe – it was a unique way of saying the message everyone else was also saying, while being true to themselves (Jeep, 2020). Personally, one of the more unique pandemic related hashtags I have seen. 

Further to their social media success, they have also established the mobile App, Badge of Honor (Chrysler Group LLC, 2019). This is an App that lets users find, as well as suggest driving trails, post pictures of their adventurers, learn about upcoming community events, and earn badges based on the trails they have completed. This App offers owners another platform to interact on, while enabling bragging rights. I find this an absolutely remarkable way to interact with your customers and also generate user created content. 

Jeep® has certainly come a long way since its early days as an army vehicle. Each Jeep® built begins with a history, and each owner gives it it’s stories. A community gone cult or just a really big family with a deep love for off-road vehicles? 

What is your favourite brand of vehicle and do you believe it could achieve cult status? Tell me about your vehicles in the comments below! 

Sources:

Chrysler Group LLC (2019)  [iPhone App] Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/jeep-badge-of-honor/id587467216

Fawcett, S. (Photographer). (2016, June 16). 13435581_10153535278861965_855372851014427355_n [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153535278861965&set=a.10150671811931965&type=3

Hills, A. (2018, February 26). The Jeep® Brand Recognized as a ‘Cult Brand’ Honoree by The Gathering. Retrieved from https://media.fcanorthamerica.com/newsrelease.do?id=18890&mid

Hills, A. (2020, March 5). Jeep® Brand Gives Fans and Followers Motivation to Become Part of the Jeep Wrangler Family and Start their Open-air Adventurers Now. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jeep-brand-gives-fans-and-followers-motivation-to-become-part-of-the-jeep-wrangler-family-and-start-their-open-air-adventures-now-301017436.html

Jeep. (2020) [Facebook Page] Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/jeep/

Jeep (2020, March 28) [Facebook Post]. The great outdoors isn’t going anywhere. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2838733072829669 

Promotion

Facebook: Are Jeep owners really as brand loyal as we think? Check out my blog about the #JeepLife here: https://bit.ly/3e27MnN

Twitter: Is @Jeep the epitome of brand loyalty? Read about my #JeepLife here: https://bit.ly/3e27MnN

Followers and Philanthropy: Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Followers and Philanthropy: Harnessing the Power of Social Media

You jump on Facebook and mindlessly scroll down; you see a fundraiser or charity trying to do good – do you take action or scroll right by? What makes you stop, think twice, and take action? Is it the catchy graphic? The well thought out headline? Or maybe it was because it was posted by someone you admire?

Why bother helping at all? The short answer? Because it makes you feel good. From my personal experience, people want to help, it’s in our nature, but we want to be able to do it easily and without too much effort. We want to do our part and feel good doing it. 

Today I will bring you through my journey of The Women Helping Women Purse Project and how social media took a good idea, a way of helping those in need, and brought it to a level I never could have imagined. 

Let me take you back to October 2015. I was sitting in my new apartment scrolling through Facebook, probably not even reading the status updates as I scrolled on, until this picture and headline stopped me dead in my tracks, What It’s Like to Get Your Period When You’re Homeless (Moore, 2015, p. 1), and the picture? A young girl in a hoodie sitting on concrete steps, slightly keeled over, from what I can only assume was pain from period cramps. I clicked on the link and begin to read about how difficult it is for homeless women in the United States to access sanitary products. I was shook. 

Not long after reading this article, I shut everything down and went to bed, but my brain wouldn’t shut down. I could not stop thinking about these women, and women in our very own communities who were likely facing the same problem. I work for the church, and we oversee a few shelters and day programs, I know women in our communities weren’t likely facing these challenges, they were facing these challenges. 

The next morning came, and off I went to work, still thinking about this article. The next time I logged onto Facebook, like a message from a Higher Power, someone had posted the idea of filling purses with things for homeless women and keeping the purse in your car to hand out next time you crossed paths with one (Nnamdi, 2015) – not the first time I had seen this idea, but certainly something I needed to see in this exact moment.

So launched The Women Helping Women Purse ProjectThe idea sparked and I quickly got busy making a poster, asking people to fill purses with feminine hygiene products and get them to me to bring to the local women’s shelters in Ottawa. I emailed the poster out to women in my life, and posted it on my personal Facebook page, with a goal of donating 50 purses by Christmas. 

Source: Danson, 2015

The idea was great! I made a purse, my mom made a purse, my close friends made purses, and within a week and a half I already had 10 purses! I thought this was wonderful, for sure I was going to make my goal of 50 purses by Christmas. 

As someone who believes in philanthropy, I was also volunteering with a youth program with the Ottawa Police. I guess I should have known that word of my project would quickly spread. But I never expected it to spread like the wildfire it did. One day, I got 25 purses from one department! But even better than that, I found a partner who believed in this cause just as much as I did. 

My new partner Sylvie and I met, discussed the goal of the project, made a public Facebook page, and almost overnight the goal of 50 purses, became 500. We opened drop off points around the city, our Facebook page likes, and shares were growing at rapid speeds. Our Facebook posts were even being shared by The Ottawa Police Facebook page, and the Ottawa Police Chef was tweeting about us on Twitter. Our project was being shared and re-shared faster than we could follow. We started getting picked up by the local media – articles were being written about us, and those were being shared too. With the increased presence on social media, we continued to increase our goal, to 1000, to 1500, to 2000, we thought for a minute, did we get in over our heads? Finally, we stopped putting a number to it, and just focused on doing good and raising awareness. Access to feminine hygiene products was now on people’s radars – let’s make the most of this opportunity!

Over the course of about two months, we collected and sorted purses, spoke out about the issue of access to feminine hygiene products, contacted shelters, drove countless kilometres picking up purses, and updated our ever-growing Facebook page daily. We were also being contacted by people across North America about how they could start this project in their towns. Still today, our Facebook page has a following of over 900 followers. (Women Helping Women Purse Project, 2020).

The Piles of Purses: On December 17, we loaded up a donated van and police cruisers with purses and started making our rounds to countless shelters around Ottawa. On that day, we closed out the Purse Project for 2015, donating well over 3000 purses to women in need, and additional boxes of supplies to shelters around Ottawa. (Reaney/Women Helping Women Purse Project, 2015).

Source: Fisher, S. & CBC News Ottawa

The Following Years: While emotionally the 2015 Purse Project feels like it was our biggest success, we cannot forget our future campaigns either. Each June we held a much smaller version of the campaign focusing on just the products. In the Falls of 2017 and 2018 we held additional large campaigns; they were all equally successful. The rest of year, when these campaigns were not happening, we continued to focus on raising awareness, and asking people to take donations directly to shelters as feminine hygiene products are needed year-round. In 2019 Sylvie had retired from the Ottawa Police Service, and I had taken on new opportunities; we decided it was time to pass the torch and leave the Purse Project to the Ottawa Community. While each campaign was very successful and the rush of running the campaigns were just as euphoric, nothing will compare to the Fall of 2015 when we launched it all.

Why were we successful? Some might say it is because we had a great cause, positive personalities, and we knew a large network of people. While all those reasons are certainly true, I think we can credit a lot of the success to our access to social media, and how easy we made it to donate. Though we had existing connections to many of these people, we never would have been able to bring them all together without the use of social media platforms.

Do you know any women who do not have a closet full of unused purses, and a drawer overflowing with extra feminine products? I sure don’t! We used social media to put the call out: 

✅ Fill up a Purse 

✅ Drop it off

✅ Feel Good!  

We also asked people share our status updates or pictures of themselves filling a purse. What do people love doing on Facebook? Sharing a status of themselves doing good, which all leads back to the success of our project! Yes, you have to leave your house, but you do not need to drive downtown, go to a shelter, schedule a drop off, or financially commit at all (most of these products can already be found in your own home). 

We were not a registered charity, we had no paid staff, we had no formal social media training, and we used our vacation days, evenings, and weekends to manage our cause. We were two women, with a great idea, and access to a free platform that made it possible to reach out to an entire community that supported this cause. We used every networking chance and opportunity we were offered, and one purse at a time, we gave these women not only life necessities, but hope. (Danson/Women Helping Women Purse Project, 2018).

Do you think we would have reached our goals and created so much awareness without the help of social media? What causes do you support and did their social media encourage you to give or help? Tell us about your philanthropic experiences in the comments below!

Sources:

Danson, H. (2015, October 16) Personal Initiative [Facebook Status] Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/heidi.danson/posts/10153082640756965

Danson, H./Women Helping Women Purse Project Facebook Page (2018, December) Today has been a wonderful day of picking up donations and bringing them the shelters. [Facebook Status] Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/WHWPP/photos/a.1079066235437383/2214616885215640/?type=3

Fisher, S. (Reporter), &  CBC News Ottawa (Producer). (2015, December 17). Purse Project Distributions. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/WHWPP/videos/1090000917677248/

Moore, L. (2015, October 13). What it’s like to get your period when you’re homeless. Cosmopolitan. Retrieved from https://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a47596/what-its-like-to-get-your-period-when-youre-homeless/)  

Nnamdi, N. (2015, October 13). Got a purse that you don’t use at home. [Facebook status], Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/nneka.nnamdi.7/posts/10208207868781061

Reaney, S./Women Helping Women Purse Project Facebook Page (2015, December) Woohooo!! 3000+ [Facebook Status] Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/WHWPP/posts/1090308704313136

Women Helping Women Purse Project Facebook Page (2020, June) Personal Initiative [Facebook Page] Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/pg/WHWPP/

Promotion

Facebook: Have a great cause, but unsure how to use social media to your advantage? Read about my experience here: https://bit.ly/3gJ1Sd1

Twitter: Read about how to harness social media for philanthropic efforts:  https://bit.ly/3gJ1Sd1 #Philanthropy #MyExperience

A Virtual Call to the Cross

A Virtual Call to the Cross

When was the last time you jumped on the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page of your local church? Traditional churches often view social media as the great unknown, but also a necessary part of life today. Did social media and the recent COVID-19 pandemic push the church to a change that it so desperately needed? 

Image Source: Shayla from Pexels

The genesis of the church and social media: Social media felt like it popped up overnight, one day everyone was talking about The Facebook and how it would change the world of communications. The use of social media promised the church a way to communicate with our local communities and those outside the church walls. While social media certainly enables us to do just that, the church’s greatest downfall was the lack of proper use or knowledge of this wonderful new platform.

Like every other great idea in the church, it was quickly followed with the question, “who will do it?”. Your church may have been lucky enough to have a tech savvy clergy who saw social media as part of their ministry, or maybe you had some youth members with an interest in social media, but more often than not, the inevitable would happen, the dedicated 70-year-old volunteer would step up to the plate. The volunteer would try, they really would, but Facebook messages were left unanswered, posts were really just clip art posters of the next community dinner, and everyone would wonder, “why is this not working?”. 

The 48 hours that changed it all: The coronavirus quickly took over our media in January 2020, National Post reminds us that January 27th was Canada’s first confirmed case (National Post, 2020, para. 1), but it was not until early March that we really began to take notice and see the virus had hit our local towns and cities.

While we watched the media closely, and talks of shutting down the economy were happening, March 13th was the day the churches never saw coming. As read in this letter (Germond, 2020, para. 2), the Anglican Bishops of Ontario collectively shut down the church buildings effective Sunday, March 15th – public worship was no more. Like it or not, the 48-hour countdown for church leaders to learn social media, was on. 

Over the following 48 hours, clergy self-taught, YouTubed, and prepared to worship online come Sunday morning.  Many tried pre-recording their service and uploading it to YouTube, others discovered the “go live” function on Facebook and Instagram, and still others went to Zoom and held their worship there. Some clergy did a simple morning prayer, some services still had organ music, but the one thing that each service had in common, was the fact that clergy were finally learning how to best use their social media platforms, and interact with not only their congregation, but the community at large. Whatever their new strategy, they had 48 hours until the inevitable Sunday morning, when social media would change the church as we knew it.   

In an interview with Rev. Jon Martin of The Anglican Parish of South Dundas, he reflects, “The 48 hours were a fantastic challenge. Suddenly all the superficial and not terribly important things fell away, and we had two days to focus on one thing: connecting with the people we serve.” (Martin, J., personal communication, May, 22, 2020).

Within 48 hours, these clergy did the one thing that the world needed most – in the midst of the chaos of a global pandemic, they provided hope and a virtual safe space for their communities to gather.

Image Source: Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Facebook Post. Created by Danson, Heidi

How long will we worship in our pyjamas?  Every Sunday morning for the past ten weeks, I have gotten out of bed, poured a cup of coffee, and tuned into a virtual church service – very rarely at the same church as the week before. The pandemic has not only made church services easily accessible to all, but it has given us the option to go to church around the world! A unique experience brought to us by social media. While we all ponder the question, Rev. Martin answers,

“How long will we worship in our pyjamas? As long as we need to. We have connected with people who might never have darkened our door. We have become part of their weekly lives. To abandon those relationships, in ways that are meaningful to our online viewers, would be inconsistent with my understanding of Christian hospitality, and would give up an excellent source of discernment and revelation for the church. We have finally been welcomed into the homes of our neighbours. Let’s not waste the opportunity.”  (Martin, J., personal communication, May, 22, 2020).

Bishop-Elect Shane Parker mentions in this Crosstalk article (Williams, 2020, pg. 10, 12) that there is a lot to be learned from this pandemic in terms of communications, and that this will help us form better communication plans for the future.  

It is clear that social media has worked wonders for the church during this pandemic. Had social media not been an option, perhaps congregations would have remained in contact, and phone trees would have been established to check in on fellow parishioners, but as Rev. Martin says it best, “I don’t think we would have been anywhere near as capable of reaching into the homes of people who were not already members.” (Martin, J., personal communication, May, 22, 2020).

From the Facebook page that was nothing more than an online version of the announcement sheet for the church, to a full blown, online only worship experience, reaching people we never thought possible – how quickly the church has changed and adapted in only 71 days, all thanks to social media. 

Tell us about your online worship experience in the comments below! Have you tried online worship? What about a zoom bible study? And if you haven’t, why not? 

Sources:

Anglican Diocese of Ottawa [Danson, Heidi]. (2020, March 16) [Facebook Post] Retrieved from www.facebook.com/OttawaAnglican

Canadian Post, The and National Post Staff. (2020, January 27). First Canadian coronavirus case officially confirmed, second is presumptive, 19 people under investigation. Retrieved from https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ontario-confirms-second-coronavirus-case-the-wife-of-the-first-case

Germond, Anne. (2020, March 13). Written letter from The Office of the Metropolitan of Ontario – The Anglican Church of Canada. Retrieved from https://9ef5c27f-7387-4dd8-862b-ad696f6d1746.filesusr.com/ugd/5893ce_fa19996cd7c34dbcaa6f61f901cc21ce.pdf

Williams, Leigh Anne. (2020, May). A conversation with Bishop-Elect Parker. Crosstalkpp.10, 12. 

Promotion

Facebook: “We had two days to focus on one thing: connecting with the people we serve.” Read about how social media and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the church to the change that it so desperately needed. https://bit.ly/3ehuSqt

Twitter: Did social media and the COVID-19 pandemic push the church to a change that it so desperately needed? #ChangingTheChurch https://bit.ly/3ehuSqt