Social media is the new town square. It’s where everyone comes together to both observe and express. While in this public atmosphere - where you’re connected with nearly everyone that has ever been a part of your life - it’s wise to be conscious of your behavior. The wrong move can turn into you playing damage control, which is not a great use of your time when there are billions of animals who need your help.
The first and most obvious rule of social media is to not be a jerk, bully, or unnecessarily rude. When speaking up for animals, we are only going to win people over if we use communication that is open, honest, and non-judgmental. Shaming people or making them feel small is not a good place to start a conversation.
Beyond just the tone of your interactions, there are specific actions you can take that will make you a socially-adept all-star for animals. I’ll get into that now.
If someone follows you on Twitter or Instagram, you aren’t obligated to follow them back. Only do so if you truly want to. On that note, if you are added to Facebook groups without your consent, you’re under no obligation to remain in those groups. The same can be said for group messages.
When people regularly post content that you don’t wish to see, you can hide them (on Facebook) or mute them (on Instagram). These are better alternatives than unfriending them entirely. They won’t know they’ve been hidden/muted, the bridge won’t be burned, and you can re-follow them later if you wish to.
On Facebook, providing a 'like' is great and all, but if it’s a major life announcement from someone you have a good relationship with, consider reacting with a 'love', 'wow', or something else rather than a simple thumbs-up. The person will notice and appreciate it.
Don’t post so frequently that you bore or annoy your audience. Don’t post so infrequently that they forget you exist. Find the happy medium.
At the very least, react to/like comments or tweets that people post in response to your posts. People have taken the time to write out a response to something you’ve put out there, so the least you can do is acknowledge that. A comment reply would be even better. The more you engage, the more likely people are to continue engaging with your posts in the future.
Don’t let unread messages sit in your inbox for weeks. Though you want to avoid obsessing about it and feeling like you have to respond immediately, try to get to all messages within two-three days. Because people can see if you’ve opened a message, if you do open one but don’t have time to reply right away, do try replying soon. Otherwise you could be unintentionally ruffling some feathers.
Carefully consider everything you write on social media and be aware that what you say on social media may be posted publicly, without your consent, and will likely be taken out of context. Always err on the side of caution.
Finally, don’t click the 'like' button on your own post. We all know you like the post, otherwise you wouldn’t have posted it!
John Oberg is a social media pro, dedicated to making the world a kinder place for animals by utilizing the power of social media. He recently launched his own independent project for animals through Patreon. Prior to that, he served as Director of New Media for the international animal protection organization, The Humane League. And prior to that, John served as Director of Communications for Vegan Outreach. In both of these roles, John oversaw social media for the organizations which led to a tenfold increase in following in both, as well as over 1 billion views of content posted to these pages.