Can Star Wars excitement get pets adopted? Yes; just ask Kylo Ren Cat.
When the Monmouth County SPCA noticed one of its available cats resembled the actor who played villain Kylo Ren in the most recent Star Wars film, they quickly renamed him “Kylo Ren” and hit Instagram with his photo, asking, “Tell me this cat… doesn’t look like Adam Driver.” And thus was #KyloRenCat born — and just as quickly adopted.
The lesson here isn’t really to go looking at the Star Wars franchise to help you find homes for the pets in your shelter or rescue group. “It’s called ‘newsjacking,’ and despite the somewhat aggressive-sounding name, it’s a great way to get attention for your available pets,” says social media consultant and Shelter Pet Project “Typing Lady” Christie Keith. “Posting with hashtags, particularly on Twitter, where following news and popular culture on hashtag streams is an important part of the culture, can allow you to reach people who normally aren’t part of your audience.”
The trick, says Keith, is to understand what the conversation is about and insert yourself appropriately. “Brands often jump on popular hashtags without a real understanding of how they’ll be received. If you take the time to read the conversation on the hashtag and feel you understand it, and join it with humor — or the appropriate tone if humor isn’t right — people will usually be charmed that an animal organization has become part of their experience.”
Get it wrong, she cautions, and you’ll get either no response or a negative one.
If you’re looking at this post and saying, “Hashtags? What the heck are those?”, they are simply words added to social media posts to help people find topics they’re interested in. From the titles of popular television programs to breaking news stories, they serve as a categorization tool for the often information-packed social media experience. The words are preceded by the pound or “hash” symbol: #. When used in posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms, they allow your messages to be searched and read according to the topic in the hashtag.
“On the Shelter Pet Project’s social media, we often share our messages into popular hashtag streams on Twitter and other social channels,” Keith says. “They’ve been some of our best-performing posts.”
At either location, look in the left hand column, where you’ll see a list of trending topics. If you’re logged in, those are probably what are called “tailored” trends, or those for a location near you; just click on the word “change” and select trending topics for the whole country.
Is there an actor or sports figure trending? Maybe you have a pet in your shelter with a famous doppelganger, just like Kylo Ren Cat. Maybe you have a whole group of cats named after characters on Downton Abbey, or a dog who likes to dance to the music of a trending band. Maybe there’s a news story that isn’t obviously about animals, but with a little creativity could be massaged that way.
Whatever you decide to do, may the Force be with your pet adoption efforts!
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