I like social media marketing because I’m always learning and experimenting. The main ingredient of a strong social media strategy should be innovation.
Recently, I shared on MedVet’s Facebook pages a recipe for dog treats, as part of a larger Halloween Pet Safety campaign. I got the idea from another animal hospital’s Facebook page and saw the high levels of engagement their post was getting. So, in Canva, I made this graphic for Facebook and added this post to my content calendar in Google Sheets. I made sure to give credit in the lower right-hand corner to the blog where I got the recipe from.
Sharing a treat recipe was something MedVet had never done before. I knew our audience loved pet safety tips, education, and helpful insights. From tracking the best performing post each week, I knew those types of posts had performed well in the past. I was pretty confident this recipe would be something of value to our followers and would be appreciated. My hypothesis paid off and the post was a success across our 24 Facebook pages, getting as many as 63 shares! I hope to share other treat recipes in the future, perhaps themed for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I want to talk about the Halloween Pet Safety social media campaign I ran for MedVet. Campaign Goal: Increased brand awareness. Make sure MedVet is top of mind for pet owners in case their pet faces an after-hours medical emergency. We will measure the number of post shares.
Over October 20-31, our goal is to see a 15% increase in the number of Shares on all Facebook Pages
From September 20-30, 2019, we saw 286 total Shares on Facebook across all our Pages, so our goal was to see an increase of 43 shares, so we aim to see 329 Shares.
Campaign Results: On November 3, I looked at the analytics to see how many Shares across all our 24 Facebook Pages these Halloween Pet Safety posts had gotten.
I used HubSpot to schedule the posts and track the success of the campaign. In HubSpot, I marked each post related to this campaign “Halloween 2019” so I could easily pull a report only on posts for the campaign
We far exceed our goal of 329 Shares. We got 845 Shares!
Purpose: To use our emergency veterinary expertise to educate pet owners about the dangers of pets accidentally ingesting chocolate.
Our desired reaction from the campaign was for users to share the Facebook post with their friends and family. We also want them to remember the key idea that MedVet is open 24/7 in case of a pet emergency and provides expert
Opportunity: Become the trusted source for accurate and easy-to-share pet safety information on Facebook.
When: October 20-31 on MedVet’s 24 Facebook pages
Target audience: Pet owners and those who currently like a MedVet Facebook page
Tone: Knowledgable, expert, pet-loving
Even in small amounts, chocolate may cause serious health problems if ingested by your pet. Chocolate toxicity can
cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, heart failure, seizures, and in some cases even death.
While chocolate is a favorite treat of ours, it can be harmful, sometimes fatal, to our canine companions. With
Halloween right around the corner, please remember to keep all chocolate and other candy, such as raisins, sugar-free
candy, and sugar-free gum, safely out of reach of curious noses!
Dogs and cats are particularly sensitive to a chemical in chocolate, coffee and tea called theobromine. Theobromine is found in very high levels in bakers and dark chocolate. If a dog eats a lot or is a smaller dog, milk chocolates can
cause problems too. Be careful when you have chocolate in your home and keep your four-legged friends far away from Halloween baskets this year!
I renewed my certification in Google Analytics. I last took the test in 2017 so I was due for a refresher. I completed the Google Analytics Beginners course first then the Advanced course within Google’s Analytics Academy. I learned the most from using the demo account and being able to practice the concepts I was learning.
I’m excited to apply this knowledge to my organization’s Google Analytics.
In October, I wrote a blog post about foods pets should avoid eating. We’d found that on social media these pet-education posts, especially seasonally related perform very well. We didn’t have much fall-specific content so I set out to write this blog post.
What: Seasonal Pet Education Blog Post
Where: MedVet’s blog on their website and shared on all 25 hospital Facebook pages
When: Written and published in early October 2019
Why: The goal of the blog post is to build trust among pet owners that MedVet is leading specialty healthcare and is a trusted resouce during pet emergencies. We want to increase the amount of time people spend on our website so the CTA at the end of the blog post is to read similar pet education blog posts we’ve written.
When we shared this blog post on social media, our goal is to drive users to our website. Once they are on our website, we want them to learn more about MedVet and keep us top of mind for their pet’s emergency and specialty needs.
The blog post was reformatted and repurposed to become a print handout for each of our 24 hospitals. I only wrote the text, I didn’t design this. Our amazingly talented graphic designer, Ashten, designed this in Adobe InDesign.
Fall is such a festive season but it can be a bit of a tricky and scary time for pet-owners. How can I keep my dog safe this Halloween? What do I need to keep out of reach of my cat? MedVet’s team of board-certified veterinarians want to educate pet-owners about how to keep their dog and cat safe this fall.
Let’s play a game of Trick-or-Treat! Guess if the food listed is a treat that’s safe to give your pet or if it’s a trick, meaning something harmful you should not give to your pet.
(On the live blog post, these are hyperlinked to take you to the right spot on the page.)
If your pet eats a grape-flavored product (found in some pet products and synthetic grape-flavored medications) no need to worry, that’s not toxic. Most products are made with diluted grapes, not enough to cause any alarm.
Like with grapes, raisins are not safe for cats or dogs. Raisin toxicity can cause severe kidney damage leading to acute kidney failure with lack of urine production. If a pet has consumed raisins, they might show symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, foul breath, lethargy, or loss of appetite. Make sure to keep raisins in a sealed container in a locked drawer or pantry, out of reach of your cat or dog.
Both raw and cooked pumpkin is safe for dogs and cats. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and can help relieve constipation and diarrhea. Adding a tablespoon of pure pureed pumpkin to a pet’s regular food can be beneficial for pets with upset stomachs. But, do not give your pet the leftover jack-o-lantern or the pumpkin stem, skin or pulp. Pumpkin stems and leaves are covered in little sharp hairs which can cause irritation in your dog’s mouth and intestinal tract.
Chocolate can be poisonous for both dogs and cats. Even in small amounts, chocolate can cause serious health problems if ingested by your pet. Chocolate toxicity can result in vomiting and diarrhea in addition to tremors, increased heart rate, heart failure, seizures, and in some cases, death. Generally darker chocolates are more dangerous than milk or white chocolates. Keep your trash out of reach of sniffing noses because chocolate candy wrappers can also be a serious hazard.
Sugar-free candies contain a chemical called xylitol, which is harmful to pets. This artificial sweetener is highly toxic to dogs and can cause low blood sugar and liver failure. Xylitol is found in some chewing gum, mints, baked goods, cereals, jellies, jam, pudding, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Always read the label carefully because you’d be surprised what products have xylitol in them. The effects of xylitol in cats are not fully understood so we recommend not giving your cats sugar-free candies.
Apples are an ideal snack for pets. Apples are a good source of antioxidants as well as Vitamins A and C. They are high in fiber, which can help with a dog’s digestion. They are great for overweight or geriatric pets who may have a lower metabolism. Make sure to remove the leaves, core and seeds from the apples because they can contain cyanide. Also be sure you’re using fresh apples. Consuming rotten apples can be harmful to dogs.
Trick or Treat
This answer is a bit more complicated. Must dogs absolutely love peanut butter. However, make sure the peanut butter doesn’t contain xylitol, which is a chemical that’s highly toxic to dogs. Look for unsalted peanut butter with no added sugars. Peanut butter can be a great treat, high in protein and healthy fats. Like with any treat, make sure to give peanut butter in moderation.
Leave the peanut butter for your dogs. Cats should not be given peanut butter. It’s not toxic to them but it doesn’t provide them any nutritional benefit. Your cat is a carnivore that wants to eat animal-based protein, not a plant-based protein, like peanut butter.
Make sure food in your kitchen is stored out of your pet’s reach. To discourage pets from exploring in the kitchen, don’t feed pets table scraps or allow them on the counter.
Last week I traveled for work to Chicago to support the opening of a brand-new state-of-the-art veterinary emergency hospital.
Another Marketing team member and I drove to different referral partners (this is what we call veterinary practices that refer patients to MedVet’s emergency and specialty hospitals) around Chicago. We told the staff about our new hospital opening up, explained the phone number was staying the same and how we were expanding our services.
I admit it was outside of my comfort zone a bit because I don’t usually have a lot of face-to-face interactions with veterinarians, practice managers or our referral partners. I prefer to stay behind-the-scenes as support, but I can certainly muster up the courage and extroverted side of my personality and talk to new people. I learned a lot from the team members I was with about how we speak about MedVet to referral partners and how MedVet is perceived by others.
We were able to take a tour of the new hospital in Chicago before it opened to the public and I was blown away by how large it is. I believe it’s 6,000 square feet. The old hospital was comprised of two different buildings with multiple floors so doctors and clients had to do a lot of walking up and down flights of stairs. This new hospital is all one floor, which I’m sure the staff is very excited about.
The day the new hospital opened, I set into action my digital marketing plan that I’d made with the Chicago Regional Marketing Director to update the hospital address across our digital channels. I updated our address on our:
Google My Business listing
Multiple spots on our website
Updating an address online is important but this felt more important than normal because the stakes were higher. We needed to ensure that no one accidentally drove to the old hospital, especially during an emergency with their pet.
As part of this plan to tell our audience about our Chicago hospital moving, I worked closely again with the Chicago Regional Marketing Director and the Marketing leadership to write a press release that was shared on our website and distributed through PR Newswire.
I posted on Facebook and LinkedIn. I wanted to take a moment to talk about how well those two posts did.
I wanted to highlight a recent example of how a Facebook post went from concept to publishing and the beauty of how that idea evolved and changed through collaboration.
Concept: Hurricane Barry was barreling right into the path of our New Orleans and Mandeville MedVet hospitals so we were concerned about pets being displaced. The Regional Marketing Partner reached out suggesting we post on Facebook if lost pets are brought into the hospital. The hospital was set up to temporarily shelter any found pets during the storm. I agreed this was a great idea and set out to make a “found pet” template in Canva.
So, after a couple days of back and forth and making three drafts, we needed to use this post template.
Over the weekend, a female chocolate lab came into our Mandeville hospital. We posted on Facebook about her, using our new template, and it worked! She found her owners.
For Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana, I wrote a blog post essentially about how to be the best at donating to a thrift store. I was inspired by my own personal experience of donating to a thrift store. When I would gather up the clothes in my closet to donate, I wondered things like “Should I wash them first?” “Should I tie shoelaces of shoes together so they stay together?” “Should I keep jewelry untangled?” I wanted to answer these questions for our donors and I knew that answering these questions would help our SEO too. With people asking more and more long-form questions in search, your content needs to answer what people are asking.
I had learned a lot of these answers from responding to questions on social media and by speaking with our thrift store managers. I double-checked these tips with the managers to make sure I wasn’t giving false or misleading information.
Is your New Year’s Resolution to get your life organized? Perhaps you’re tidying up your home, inspired by Marie Kondo and her life-changing KonMari method. When you get organized and declutter your home that creates piles of unwanted stuff that needs to be donated to the thrift store.
With every donation that you make to Volunteers of America thrift stores, you are giving hope to families, veterans and individuals in need. Your stuff is sold in our thrift stores and the revenue is used to fund our community programs across Ohio and Indiana. Thank you for donating your items to Volunteers of America, a 100% non-profit thrift store.
CHECK OUT THESE TIPS TO MAKE YOUR NEXT THRIFT STORE DONATION QUICK AND EASY:
Wash clothes before donating
Toss them in the laundry one last time before donating them. This will ensure the clothes are clean, fresh smelling and ready to be sold in our thrift store.
Check your pockets
Double-check that you’ve removed any coins, business cards, receipts, keys, notes or important items from your clothing. Once donations start going through our sorting process, it becomes hard to track them down again. So, as much as we would love to find a $20 cash donation in one of your pants pockets, make sure you check your pockets.
Tie your shoes together
Keep shoes as a pair by tying shoelaces together or putting a rubber band around the shoes. We need both shoes in order to sell them in our thrift store. Have you ever seen just one shoe for sale in any of our thrift stores? Now, that would just be sad.
Tape the controller to your device
If you’re donating a TV with a remote, be sure to tape the remote to the TV so it stays together. The same goes for video game systems or other electronics. Keep all pieces together. Pay it forward to the shopper who will buy your TV and give them the remote.
Keep like items together
If you’re donating a set of dishes or like items, pack them in the same bag or box so they arrive at our donation center together. Y’know what they say, dishes of a feather, flock together.
Sort your donations into two categories
You can help us out by sorting your donations into two easy categories: Clothing and Household Items. Place all your jeans, shirts, socks, dresses, linens, and anything that has fabric into one bag. In the other bag, place the kitchen, household and miscellaneous items. Bonus points for labeling your boxes or bags! This will help us when we sort your donations.
Keep jewelry untangled in small bags
Place jewelry like necklaces and bracelets in individual bags so they don’t get tangled up together. Nothing is worse than a big ball of tangled up jewelry, right?
Label your fragile donations
Mark on the box if items inside are fragile. We don’t want any of your stuff to be broken!
Note that we’re not able to accept donations of certain items like mattresses, pianos, beds, chemicals, or large appliances.
We also can’t accept broken, hazardous, toxic or recalled items for safety reasons. Examples of these items include old paint, cribs, car seats, or fire extinguishers.
When we receive donations of items that we don’t accept, we have to spend money properly disposing of those items. This means, less money to help veterans in our community.
If you’d like to donate something that we do not accept, you can reach out to another non-profit thrift store or your local trash company, and they might be able to take it away. Often you can contact their customer service center to schedule bulk item pickups. In Columbus, Ohio you can contact the City of Columbus Customer Service Center by calling 311 or 645-3111, or online at www.311.columbus.gov
Schedule a hassle-free pick up
Scheduling a home pickup is the best way to avoid driving around for weeks with your old stuff in trash bags in your trunk. We’ll pick up your donations, no problem. Schedule your free pick-up by calling us at 1-800-873-4505 or emailing us at email@example.com.
Be sure to leave your items out in a spot that’s visible to our truck drivers. You can leave your stuff on the curb, on your porch or any spot that a driver would easily be able to see.
When you drop off your donations at one of our thrift store locations, be sure to ask an employee for a donation receipt. This will come in handy if you choose to itemize your taxes and would like to deduct your donations.
Tip: Take a picture of your items before you donate them. Show your tax professional the picture for help in determining the value of your items.
The value of your donations depends on the specific items and their condition. Be sure to use the current fair market value to determine their value. The IRS has a handy guidebook to help you determine the value of your donated stuff.
If you forget to grab a receipt, that’s not a problem. We are happy to send you one. Give us a call at 1-800-873-4505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
When you donate your stuff to a non-profit organization like Volunteers of America, you can easily help your community thrive. So clear out your closet, find a Volunteers of America thrift store near you, and do your part to make your community a brighter place.
After merging with Indiana, Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana has been growing at a rapid pace and we have a lot of job openings right now. To assist HR with finding qualified applicants for these positions, I ran a paid campaign on LinkedIn from 12/27 to 1/2/2019, targeting people in Evansville, Toledo, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Columbus with the listed job function of Community and Social Services. (These are the cities we are hiring in.)
For the Text Ads, since you could have multiple variations, I used this as an opportunity to do some A/B testing with the language, the links and the creative.
I wrote and designed this donor email newsletter for January 2019. I was inspired by an email I got from the epic Lori Jacobwith. It caught my attention because she used my name in the subject line and addressed me like an old friend “Hi Debbie.” I honestly did a double take when I read this email, like does she know me? I think the lack of images and simplicity of the email stood out. Inside the email, it read like we were best friends and she was speaking directly to me.
My first draft of the donor email was more text-heavy and included a call-to-action for donors to become monthly donors.
I shared the email draft with my team and our Director of Development noted that we should just say thank you and not ask for money in this email. We did include a subtle “PS” asking readers to watch our Faces of Hope video.
After changing the email, when it was sent out, several Volunteers of America staff members responded saying how much they appreciated this email and how it made their day.
A great way to kick off the year, by taking time to appreciate. Thanks & will share the inspiration with my crew!
Grove City thrift store manager
Subject line: Name – Thank you!
Hi Name, At the end of the year, do you ever take a moment to reflect back on the year? Do you ask yourself if you made a positive difference in your community? Let me assure you that, yes, you made a difference in 2018. Your support of Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana has led to so many amazing things.
Mothers found sobriety. Families achieved well-being. Homeless veterans established housing. People were given second chances. And they all thrive … because of you.
Every day, I’m humbled to be surrounded by your kindness. On behalf of Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana, I sincerely thank you for allowing us to be an extension of your heart and hands, helping people reach their full potential and for helping our community thrive. Many wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.
John R. von Arx III President & CEO Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana
TL;DR: I was disappointed that we didn’t see more engagement on Giving Tuesday but now we have a new opportunity to do better with our upcoming End of Year giving campaign.
I admit Giving Tuesday was a bit anti-climatic, what with all the hype starting, back in the summer. I subscribe to a lot of non profit marketing newsletters and I can’t count the number of emails and webinars claiming to spell out the perfect Giving Tuesday strategy. It’s like Black Friday for retailers. (Side note to retailers: Cyber Tuesday is not a thing. Let us have this one day.) For this year, I admit we didn’t spend as much time as we could’ve strategizing about how to differentiate ourselves among the #GivingTuesday herd. We used a lot of the images that National (voa.org or Volunteers of America, versus the affiliate Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana that I work at) provided to us. I made a couple of unique images for us in Canva. I didn’t use the copy from National exactly because I felt it wasn’t uplifting, donor centric or on-brand for us. I wrote my own variations. I spent like half of Monday last week sitting down, and scheduling out in AgoraPulse all our Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday social media posts. We’ve got two Twitters, two Instagrams, a Facebook page plus 9 thrift store Facebook pages- oh, and LinkedIn, so it’s a lot. By the end, I was really proud of myself. I had laid out and scheduled in advance these important posts across all our channels. And, I did some boosting of posts and events on Instagram and Facebook as well as ran some Facebook Ads. We spent about $100. In my head, since I put so much time and effort into these posts and thought I did a great job, I naively expected to be overwhelmed with Likes, Comments, Shares and Messages saying “Wow this social media post changed my life!” (Just kidding on that last one. I’m not quite that delusional.) Alas, it was pretty much crickets. One woman did comment how she didn’t want to donate on Facebook and that she would donate “thru her nank.” I think she meant to say bank. Yeah, not the engagement I was hoping for.
I told my boyfriend Nate about this on the phone today and saying it all out loud helped me realize that I can’t get bent out of shape over people not engaging or responding to my posts. That’s social media, ya’ll. That’s life. Keep in mind, these were mostly posts about giving, donating, fundraising. These were not the most hilarious, shareable, viral posts. Thinking more about it, we don’t typically do these hard-asks of “Donate Now!” of our audience. I try to share meaningful and positive posts, celebrating our amazing supporters. I try to do the Jab, Jab, Punch method of sprinkling, or jabbing, helpful content and then here in November and December we do more punching with the Give Back posts.
When one campaign ends, another begins. Giving Tuesday is out and now End of Year giving is in. Okay, in an ideal world of butterflies and rainbows, I’d already have this campaign all figured out, but we merged our affiliate with Indiana this summer, I got a new boss, our team has grown and things have been hectic across the organization. All I can do is focus on the now. Today, I used a Creative Brief template that my old boss, Stephanie, came up with and that we used before. It’s helpful for me to use to spell out the
Look & Feel
of the campaign. I like to say that it helps me get my ducks in a row (this is my new favorite phrase. I just like picturing a bunch of scattered ducks and me herding them into a single file line.)