The Guilford County Animal Services Advisory board met on Thursday, Dec. 6 and got a strong message from some animal lovers who spoke from the floor: Find a way to use social media more effectively.
All across the country, animal shelters use Facebook and other social media sites to help animals get adopted, raise money for animal welfare and serve other purposes that benefit shelter animals. However, in Guilford County for years, many animal welfare advocates have argued that the county doesn’t use its Facebook page effectively either to encourage adoption or to raise money and awareness.
At the Advisory Board meeting in the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro, Patricia Wilcox, who’s been an outspoken animal welfare advocate for years, had a lot to say on the subject.
“One thing that can be changed tomorrow is Facebook – it’s just not being utilized,” she told the board that helps oversee the Guilford County Animal Shelter.
Wilcox cited a shelter in Richmond that recently posted a video that went viral. The shelter’s “Home for the Holidays” video on Facebook encouraged viewers to act as foster families for animals over Thanksgiving.
“That post got over 3,000 shares and, in two days, 94 animals of theirs had foster homes for Thanksgiving – it almost cleared their shelter,” Wilcox told the board.
According to Wilcox, the Richmond shelter raised over $11,000 through its “donate” button on its Facebook page. She said that, alternatively, Guilford County doesn’t even have a donate button on its page.
She said another video was seen by someone in Hollywood who gave the Richmond shelter tickets to a major event that the staff was able to use to raise a significant amount of money.
Wilcox also said Guilford County doesn’t put appealing photos of the animals on its Facebook page to encourage adoption.
Rockingham County, she said, has adorable pictures of dogs wearing hats and cats under Christmas lights, which encourages adoption.
“It’s the cutest pictures you’ve ever seen,” she told the board.
Board members said it was a legitimate concern but they said a lack of staff prevented the shelter from properly maintaining the Facebook page and said the county has applied for a grant to hire someone to handle social media. Board members also said the shelter had been doing more lately than it has in the past with its Facebook page, so it is at least moving in the right direction.
Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier said Guilford County is exploring putting a donate button on the shelter’s page and was considering doing so for other county departments as well.
“The county is evaluating it on a holistic basis,” Grier said at the meeting. “We have several departments that have asked for the same thing.”
According to Grier, the Guilford County Family Justice Center, the parks system and the Emergency Services Department are asking for donation buttons on social media sites.
“Hopefully in 2019 we will have a button where you can donate to any cause you want to,” he said.
He said Orange County and Wake County have multiple choice donation buttons on their social media pages.