Last week our journalism social media class went to the Nebraska Humane Society. We heard Elizabeth Hilpipre give a lecture about social media. She is an alumni from Creighton University, and her current job is the development and communications specialist at Nebraska Humane Society.
WHAT STRIKES ME ABOUT HER WORK
I think the most interesting part of her lecture were the fun success stories that she posted on Facebook and Twitter that went viral. For example, there was the story about the sheep wearing a sweater. One day, a guy called 911 because he said that he found a sheep inside of his yard. Then, animal patrol came and retrieved the sheep from his yard. Then, the next day Elizabeth decided to put the sheep on Facebook with the sole purpose of finding his owner because he was lost. After he was posted on social media, the story went viral. They used the hashtag “#christmassheep” and many news outlets picked the story up including the “Associated Press,” “BuzzFeed,” “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” Russian newspapers and British newspapers. The only reason that she posted this story was because the Nebraska Humane Society wanted to find the sheep’s home. Subsequently, the owner called and picked up the sheep after the story went viral.
Another viral story was a video of the Nebraska Humane Society’s vets removing a massive fly larva from a little kitten’s nose. Elizabeth published a video online about a little kitten who had a fly larva stuck up his nose. Elizabeth took the video of them pulling out the bug, and she posted that video on the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook page. The video reached about 5.7 million people, it was viewed over 3 million times on their Facebook page alone and it was viewed by over a million people on their YouTube channel. In sum, the video has been viewed by a ton of people. Although this video was not popular in the United States, it went viral in South Korea, Japan and China.
HOW SHE STAYS ON TOP OF THE NEXT BIG THING
Elizabeth said that people who work in the social media social media industry probably only get one viral news story in their life or career. Currently, she said that she has had about three viral news stories. I think that students can especially learn from Elizabeth’s experience. I think that social media readers especially enjoy these types of sensational and viral news stories and journalists should seek to find these types of fun success stories.
The cool thing about all of these stories whenever they are going viral across the internet is that they are always mentioning the name of the Nebraska Humane Society. So, these stories get the name of the Nebraska Humane Society all over the country. In addition, because of social networks, the Nebraska Humane Society gets a lot of donations from people in Omaha as a result of this advertising of their name.
HOW SHE UTILIZES METRICS
She uses data to figure out what to post. She utilizes Facebook insights, Twitter activity analytics, YouTube analytics and Instagram analytics to her advantage to determine what to post for the Nebraska Humane Society.
How does she successfully gauge posts? She utilizes data. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram all give her a lot of data to work with. Twitter gives her a lot of data such as household income, people’s favorite things, what people follow and what they like.
WHERE SHE GETS HER IDEAS
Additionally, the Twitter analytics tell her that the Nebraska Humane Society followers like pop culture references. As a result, she likes to do a lot of pop culture references on the Nebraska Humane Society Twitter account page because of what the analytics tell her about their followers. For instance, she made a reference to the movie “Star Wars” recently for a dog on the Nebraska Humane Society Twitter page. She thinks that it is great that people interact with posts that reference pop culture.
Credit: Nebraska Humane Society Twitter account. This is an example of a pop culture reference to “Star Wars.”
Regarding their Facebook analytics, the Nebraska Humane Society Facebook page has an average video reach of about 70 thousand people. So, that data tells her that if she wants to reach the most amount of people, then she should probably use this detail. Also, Facebook analytics give her even more details such as the average length that viewers watch videos and when they stop watching videos. She can usually shoot a video in about 30 seconds, but she figured out that people are probably only watching ten seconds of it. She learned from the Facebook analytics, and now she usually only does ten second videos.
Additionally, the Nebraska Humane Society posts a lot of photos on social media. Elizabeth told us that Facebook is now ranking their content higher based on people who use the Facebook reactions button (e.g. a smiley face, heart, et cetera) more than the thumbs up icon. Moreover, many news stations might ask their viewers what they think of their story that they post on Facebook because they want to get rewarded by Facebook and get their content ranked higher from Facebook followers who utilize the reactions button to give their opinion about a story.
She uses the data to work in the Nebraska Humane Society’s favor. She mentioned that they were having trouble promoting a huge fundraiser on their general Facebook page. It was very frustrating for her that there was not very much interaction on their Facebook page for this event. So last year, in 2016, she reinvented how they post on Facebook. Instead of doing just general posts on their Facebook page, she created an event just for the Nebraska Humane Society walk event so that she could target the audience of people who are just interested in that event. She updated that event regularly so that way people who were interested in that event would be able to sign up for it. She also saved posts for the event on their main Facebook page such as general information about the event. For example, she crossposted general information about when the deadline was to register for the event on their main Facebook page. This separation of the event from the main Facebook page really helped the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook page. She noticed that the Nebraska Humane Society had more engagement on their event page than their posts from the previous year. For instance, one post that she put on their main Facebook page reached about 20 thousand people, but the post on the event page reached about 27 thousand people.
Also, she uses the data to enhance the Nebraska Humane Society’s social media strategy. She mentioned that the Nebraska Humane Society has started using boosted posts on their main Facebook page for really important things. For example, when the Nebraska Humane Society is full of cats, then she will pay to boost their Facebook posts about cats. Additionally, she boosted the walk event. For instance, a preview of the walk event would show up on somebody’s news feed because the Nebraska Humane Society boosted and targeted the market of people who have pets, people who like to run and people who like to walk. She said that the Nebraska Humane Society is able to target their audience by using the data to their advantage.
Additionally, the Nebraska Humane Society pays to advertise and boost posts on Instagram. One of the benefits about advertising on Instagram is that the Nebraska Humane Society can put up multiple photos. For instance, if the Nebraska Humane Society puts up a cat advertisement on Instagram, then Instagrammers can scroll through and see multiple photos of cats.
Even though their intake for cats was higher last year, boosting posts on Instagram helped the Nebraska Humane Society lower the number of free cat sales that they had to do.
They do not like to giving cats away for free; however, when they have too many cats, then they do give cats away for free.
The Nebraska Humane Society reached a lot of people with paid advertising. Their paid advertising reached 2.6 million people.
She also said that their Facebook page last year had 63 million impressions and reached 26.3 million people. Their main Facebook page has about 130 thousand likes. Their main Twitter account last year had over 9 million impressions.
Despite the fact that a lot of people boost general posts on Facebook, Elizabeth thinks that it is waste of money for the Nebraska Humane Society to pay to reach people who may not interact with their social media posts. She mentioned that it is more valuable for the Nebraska Humane Society to pay to get people to like their main Facebook page. Also, the Nebraska Humane Society boosts their “Donate” now button on their Facebook page. By boosting their “Donate” now button, this helped the Nebraska Humane Society raise over $5,000 in December of 2016. This strategy works better and is more valuable than boosting just a general post.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE
One of the significant pieces of advice that she mentioned was to be friends with your professors. She said that students should just be friends with your professors because they are going to be the ones who find you jobs, get you jobs, and recommend you for jobs. For example, when Creighton alums are applying for a position at the Nebraska Humane Society, she said that the Nebraska Humane Society will ask Carol what she thinks of the job applicant.
She said that forming genuine relationships with your professors and being kind to them is an excellent thing to do because it is important to make connections — especially if you want to stay in Omaha. If somebody plans to work in Omaha, then it is definitely about who you know, who knows you and who can give you a good recommendation. So, she recommends utilizing those connections from your professors. She also recommends to participate in your classes because she thinks that professors remember you. For instance, if one was a difficult student to deal with in class, then professors are probably not going to give you a recommendation letter.
In sum, her presentation on social media at the Nebraska Humane Society was fantastic, and it was such a great and informative lecture to listen to.