Building an online adopter community

Your adopters, if allowed, can be one of a rescue or shelter’s greatest assets. Adopters already know your organization, they believe in you, and more often than not, they are grateful to you for bringing their pet into their lives. So, how do you capitalize on this relationship?

You build an adopter community.

1. Create a group where adopters can share

This is probably most easily accomplished with Facebook.

In Facebook, select “Groups”
Create a new group
Fill out the required fields and start inviting members. We recommend you keep an alumni group private.
2. Determine a purpose for the group

Here are a few options of ways you could use the group:

  • A space for adopters to share updates – this can be nice for adopters of littermates, sharing updates with original rescuers, and keeping an eye on the animals you worked so hard to adopt out.
  • A space to share upcoming events – your adopters are the most likely group of people to support any fundraising you do. Targeting them directly will only help increase attendance and participation.
  • Share helpful tips directly to adopters – a lot goes into setting an adopter up for success, but there is always more to share. For example, before the 4th of July, you may want to remind new adopters to keep their pets leashed in the yard or at the beginning of winter, remind adopters to use pet safe salt. An adopter group allows you to get this information out quickly and efficiently.
  • Volunteer plea – as we have established, adopters are already emotionally invested in your rescue and know what you are about. This makes them the perfect group of people to recruit for volunteer roles. Before posting publicly, ask your alumni group to contact you if they are interested in filling one of your open volunteer roles.
3. Group moderation

Despite the best intentions, sometimes social media can create problematic situations.

  • Avoid conversations around training or medical advice – these should always be directed towards a professional. While well intentioned, adopters can give bad or even harmful advice. For example, if someone is asking if chocolate is okay to feed their dog, it would be easy for an adopter to respond with “my dog never had a reaction”. Though they are trying to be helpful, this kind of question is one for a vet.
  • “Is anyone else in the [example] litter aggressive?” – When people feel they are struggling with their puppy, they are often looking for validation that it isn’t their fault. This can create a dangerous snowball effect where adopters get worked up over typical puppy behaviors like teething. You can get ahead of these types of questions by setting up “Alert words” in your group so when a word like “aggressive” is used, you are immediately notified so you can assess the situation. This could also apply for words like “rehoming”.
4. Create excitement and engagement

Starting a group can be hard and it might feel like crickets in the beginning. Get the conversation going with some fun topic starters:

  • Show a picture of your pet on their gotcha day and now
  • What are your favorite nicknames for your pet? Please include a pic!
  • What made you fall in love with your pet?
  • What is your pet’s favorite food?
  • What is the goofiest part of your pet’s personality?

Engagement will grow naturally over time!

5. Help adopters find your group

Make sure to include a link to your group in an email after a dog is adopted! This can be in the finalization email or in a post-adoption follow up.

Creating a community won’t only strengthen your rescue or shelter, but it will also provide a positive reminder of why you do this hard and emotional work.

Happy rescuing!

Is this article missing something? Have questions? Want help applying what you learned to your organization? Send us a message!

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