The Absolute Best Facebook Post to Help the Paws

Facebook Best Practices imageJuly 21, 2011

Since launching Pawisitvely Texas on Facebook in 2009, I’ve learned a lot about about posting animals in need of rescue. We are currently capturing more than 5 million post views each month, so it is critically important we communicate clearly and accurately to help the pets that depend on us – and make the most of this reach. The helpful feedback of our community has been tremendous and the support, well, there are no true words of just how fantastic everyone has been at helping save lives by networking through PawsTexas – and beyond!

If you want to learn more about how to create a post that will get the absolute most visibility among animal rescues, fosters, volunteers, networkers, and crossposters, you’ve come to the right place! I share the following from both experience of networking on a very active Facebook Page and as a former corporate marketing communications executive. Good intentions are great, but knowledge is power. So, post powerfully strong social media posts to help save more paws.

All too often, we see incomplete posts. The city or location will be missing – and without that, we can all share all we like, but that does little to help the pet in need if there is no way to save him/her! The more information the better, especially if you’re networking a shelter pet! Here’s why. If a post gets networked and stirs interest, but has little information about the pet, if people are truly interested, they’ll have to call the shelter. Most shelters are not staffed to handle 10 calls/pet and certainly not 100 or more. And that has happened – and in a few cases, the shelter has decided they are not staffed to handle calls, so they say “no more posting our pets online.” That of course, is a tragedy we must work to avoid!!!

Networkers on the Pawsitively Texas Facebook page have told me they do not pass along incomplete posts. There are some that have said they do not reshare posts that appear to be overly dramatic such as URGENT WILL DIE TODAY MUST SAVE IMMEDIATELY AND THE ENTIRE POSTS IS NOTHING BUT ALL CAPITAL LETTERS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS BECAUSE YOU REALLY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT I NEED YOUR ATTENTION NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course the situation is dire and urgent! No question about that. It’s just tempering the emotions of the post so that they work for the pet getting reshared, not against. And, that may be a small number of people, but we need everyone we can get to help us network the pets. Since that is a complaint I receive with some frequency, I believe everyone should know that.

To find the balance of communicating urgency and reaching as many eyes as possible, use ALL CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! judiciously. Since we have no text formatting options on our Facebook posts, I try to use the ALL CAP words to help people who scan-read posts; for example, I may publish a post where I use all caps for URGENT, LOCATION, and CONTACT. Sometimes I use ALL CAPS as the lead-in to a post, similar to a billboard headline. Then continue the post in normal upper/lowercase letters.

The following items are what should be included in every post; include as much info as possible (not all will be known, but if location and contact are missing, please take a moment to research that before posting so that you can include the absolute most key points for helping a pet). This is especially true if you maintain a Page and present Urgent Kill List Albums – this info should be on each pet photo as well as the Album description.Think of it this way; we all post a little differently. Some will reshare the album, some will reshare one photo; assure that no matter what one shares, the key information is shared. While some may say “that’s overkill, we have that info on our Page” remember, there are still some folks that will admit “I’m not very computer savvy” or “I really don’t know Facebook that well yet.”  The extra time you take to get this comprehensive information posted, the better odds you give the pets when their story goes viral. And that’s why we do this, asking people to help us help the pets and save lives. Items to include for each post/photo:

  • Location (city/state – we have a lot of non-Texan networkers now, so state inclusion helps)
  • Contact Phone and/or Email
  • Animal ID#
  • Animal Name
  • Breed Type
  • Male or Female
  • Approx Age
  • Approx Weight/Size
  • Health
  • Temperament (if tested, and if good with kids, other dogs and cats)
  • If in shelter, how long the pet has
  • Adoption Fee
  • If a shelter, do they allow out-of-town adoptions?
  • If transport is available

When I have to look up a shelter’s contact info and include in a post, it takes my time away from networking other animals; true for everyone that crossposts animals – and sometimes I hesitate because I don’t know if I’ve found the correct shelter or not. Don’t make anyone guess. However, unless the people that click reshare copy/paste my text with shelter information, the pet gets passed along with incomplete information, as the reshare feature takes the original post text with photo, not anything I’ve added in my post. Additionally, as Page Admin, FB limits me to something like 420 characters; it’s sometimes hard to fit everything in my post. So please, understand the critical importance of sharing info and why original posts’ comprehensive content is so key.

Include a photo! It can not be said often enough, photos sell. But just as importantly, they also give us a RESHARE button on Facebook making it easy to send a pet’s story viral throughout Facebook and picked up by Twitter tweets! Without that photo, Facebook does not give us a Reshare button.

And I LOVE photo albums. When I share one pet, I want to share ALL the pets in need at that facility, so I love it when a Shelter or Rescue Page includes photos/bios of all pets in need there. I share one pet, but then I also grab the link to the open album page and share that too.

If you have a Page with albums, it’s important to also keep them updated. Some people will stop crossposting if the content is always outdated, and integrity for being a reliable source will be diminished. What is great is to have other albums to move photos from Urgent to, such as “Adopted!” “Rescued!” “Returned to Owner” and “RIP” … people connect emotionally to these precious pets and want to follow the story to the end. The other albums helps. I like to share the Adopted/Saved pet albums because it fuels all of us on that our work is making a difference when we know that some have been saved.

You may also find these additional articles about using Facebook social media to help in animal rescue helpful. We have a powerful resource available to us in social media marketing using sites like Facebook. Let’s make the most of them and work to save more animals that depend on us to be their voice.

What do you think makes a great networking post? Have I left anything out for making a great Facebook post? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Networking is a powerful tool we have to save the lives of the precious animals that depend on us so. Please continue to invite friends, family, and colleagues to join us here on Pawsitively Texas! And if you haven’t already, add your email address to our subscription box in the upper right column – you’ll be notified when new blog posts are published here (that’s all, no spam from us!).


  1. thank you for posting this ! it was very informative. i cross post alot of animals and now i will know what to do with the ones who dont have all the info. listed ! i have shared this on my page as well ! thank you for all you do to help save animals in need !

  2. I would like to know if for cross posting effectively, it is true that I have to copy/paste the info and then download the photo of the pet to my docs and upload it to FB, or with just hitting the SHARE BUTTON I post it to my wall and from there I send it to my list of cross posters, rescues, etc. Sorry, I do not know if I am doing it right. Thanks!!

    • Hi Mayra, it depends on how well the original poster did with the content with the photo. If they included all of the key details, when you click RESHARE, it takes the photo and original content with it. It’s best if you add a personal message, such as “This dog needs surgery, can you help? Details in the link below.” “Or check out this beautiful cat; she needs a home. Please tell others to help her find her home and avoid being another shelter kill statistic.” or “This cute guy is looking for a home; please share. Details below.” Sometimes people post a photo, then write info in the comment section below; the only way that information is seen when crossposting is when someome takes the time to actually click the photo and scroll down to look at, so you may need to copy some info. The way to do that is to “copy the info”, then, click reshare, then before posting, ‘paste’ the copied info in. You should not have to download and reload a photo. I try to pace a few minutes between each post; that way, FB doesn’t track me as a Spammer and place my messages in the “Hidden Posts” section of everyone’s page. Thanks for asking and thanks for helping the pets! ~alva

  3. My main frustration when sharing and crossposting is the length of the original text and all the gaps and blank lines. It’s like what you said about the over-dramatic language and all caps and exclamations. I don’t want to have to keep scrolling and scrolling to find the essential information. I’ve skipped sharing some posts that had used every bit of space allowed, but essentially said nothing of value – no location or contact information or breed, etc.

    For Mayra: There have been times I had to save the picture and upload it from my computer. If I liked the script with it, I copied and pasted it with the uploaded photo. If you share the pic, you have the option of adding text. I keep a Word document with “scripted” phrases so all my shared posts look consistent with location, date posted, etc. I just copy and then paste, paste, paste! It speeds things up when there’s a lot to share.

    • Thanks Terrenza, I just wish we could get the message across. The “main thing needs to be the main thing” on a post! Maybe in time people will learn how to really help share a pet using social media!

  4. Thank you for posting this. I deal mostly with Lost & Found pets and losing information on a pet is often similar to losing the pet – if we can’t link it back to an Owner or Finder, it is essentially useless.
    I will be sharing this on the pages that I help admin, along with the other members of Wildfire Pet Rescue.
    Lost And Found Pets From Texas Wildfires
    Bastrop Lost And Found Pets
    Brazos Lost And Found Pets
    Thank you,
    Heather M.

  5. You do a wonderful job. This site has saved SO MANY (pardon the capital letters) animals. Animals no one would have know about have found homes. What you do is wonderful!

  6. Can someone explain to me the difference between networkers and crossposters? I am new and need that info to make sure I am understanding the process.

    • Hi Alana, the terms are used interchangeably in terms of networking. The idea is you see a post or email about a pet in need and you share it to your network, rescue groups, and any place you find that will help raise awareness for the pet.

  7. I have done x-posting for shelter animals, and one thing I dont get, its the Rescue Pages in Facebook. Many of them prohibit (X)posting in their walls.

    Is in it everybody’s interest to get death row info on animal as soon as possible? I would assume those x-posts helped them? Or do thay just want to act in their own? Many Page admins also very often report x-posters post as spam and then Facebook blockes these x-posters at all. Not sure how it helps if the Network is sharing among them the pics of animals, if they all are mostly x-posters and shelter people who already know about these animals

    • Good points, Katy! The arguments I have heard from other admins is that they are committed to saving the pets they take into their care and want to focus on those pets only. I understand, many that work in rescue have full time jobs, family, their own pets, fosters, and they are stretched very thin. Social media gives us a tremendous tool, but at the same time, it’s one more thing the rescuers have to add to an already full day. Two things I can suggest: 1) know who your cross posting partners are and only post on those pages. 2) Be creative and consistently check out new sources to share animals (i.e. city newspaper, local anchor/dj pages, local businesses, etc.); people are often touched by a pet’s story and will share. Key is continually searching out new sources to give the pets awareness.

  8. I tag rescues in photos of the shelter dogs. Is this effective? If not, or if it hurts an animal’s chance, I don’t want to do it–it takes a lot of time for me to tag rescues on a shelter dog’s photo, which I’m happy to do if it helps, even a little.
    Thank you for all you do for the animals.

    • Patty, I believe a page admin has to be logged in as page (i.e. PawsTexas vs. Alva) in order to see tags. I can administer my page without having to sign in, so I never see tags. If a person publishes a photo and tags pages, people, I think notifications are sent, if the recipients has notifications turned on in their settings. Best rule of thumb is to post on actual pages and/or send by email to targeted recipients. Thanks for helping the pets!

  9. Great information Alva! I am one of those who tended to use caps and exclamation points. I will be more judicious now. I cross post continually on my page and am backing off a bit. It has actually caused me to become depressed. We cannot save them all.

    Thank you,

    Ann AnimalAdvocate Fudge Cluck (facebook)
    @AnnCluck (twitter)
    anncsells (pinterest)

    • Thanks Ann! I understand; it is very difficult work and compassion fatigue is very real! I’m also working on some changes for PawsTexas in 2014. I do believe we can save them all, we have to just keep reaching out to more people and creating awareness for the homeless pets. We have a bigger network available to us than just our personal network of friends and family and I hope to tap into that in 2014 and show others how to do the same! Thanks for your help with the pets; I wish you the best!

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