I recently ran into an interesting debate in the rescue world – do seemingly inactionable comments on social media rescue threads do more damage than good? While I am honestly torn on where I think I stand, I believe the subject needs some thought.
Most times, the rescuers who are in the trenches when it comes to rescue, are often passionate people, who prefer working for a cause over a corporate. While they may hold corporate jobs, more often than not, rescue feeds their soul. They prefer not to answer to anyone, but to follow the moral compass inside them and answer only to their heart and conscience. Along with this kind of a drive and passion comes a distaste for structure. When people make comments like “what’s the status on this case”, “someone look into this”, the statements bare too much resemblance to the structured world and volunteers recoil at it. It is rather disheartening too.
However, if a social media expert was hired just to represent the cause as a whole, the expert would perhaps mainly look at this as the amount of visibility a post on the subject gets and it’s overall impact on the cause. I remember meeting a few clients who tell me that they became more aware of the cause of rescues, after having joined social media groups on the topic and watching the frenzy of activity in the field of rescue and adoptions. Looking purely at social media parameters that I was trained to look at in my previous life, I would say that a post that draws more interaction is a better post for the cause.
I have had a few other clients who come to me just before getting a dog and sought my opinion. In India, due to the large dog overpopulation, it is widely regarded that adoption is the more ethical way to procure a dog. I inform my clients of this and quite frequently clients opt to adopt. It seems like what was required was awareness.
This goes to tell me that we still have some way to go in terms of getting social messages across, even to dog lovers, who are tech savvy.
The social media knowledge in me says that inactionable comments do have social currency that helps the cause in the long run. It questions if the impact to the cause is larger by the induction of more people, if the momentary discouragement felt by people on the case, might be a necessary cost of recruitment. However the volunteer in me says that I left back all corporate talk, including being “status checked” – and that was at the heart of my current nature of work.
Perhaps, if we were to increase social media visibility to the cause, without impeding with ongoing efforts and discouraging the volunteers working on the case, it might help to be discerning about our comments. It might help to adopt a policy of pitching into the thread after the work is done or before it’s picked up, but refrain from posting during, so as not to detract from on going efforts. If there is an urge to check on the status, that status checked might be received a lot more warmly if it came coupled with a sincere offer to help. We are learning this media and learning how to put it to use for what we are passionate about. It might help to do some collective brainstorming on this topic. Talk it out with friends. Let me know your thoughts.