Important Social Media Changes In 2016 That Could Impact Your Rescue Group!

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016


One of the things we like most (and sometimes least!) about social media is its ever evolving nature. New updates to platforms like Facebook and Instagram make the experience using these tools ever more diverse and innovative, but it also means that if we, at Sparkie, don't stay up to speed on what's going on, our content - and business - can fall behind.

Animal rescuers who use social media to power their organizations face this same issue.

Here on SPARK! we’ve shown you how to maximize your rescue Facebook page's success, elaborated on fun ways you can use hashtags to boost post engagement, and even shown you how to turn your rescue into a podcast superstar.

But these topics are for naught if the platforms that your rescue group currently operate aren't up to date.

That's why we've dedicated our final post of the year to the most important changes we think rescues should be aware of moving into the new year. So give this post a quick read to make sure you and your rescue close out 2016 with pages, profiles, and stories optimized for 2017!

Instagram Takes on SnapChat with "Stories"

Pretty much a copy of Snapchat, Stories lets you upload pictures and videos in a separate part of your rescue's IG profile so you can provide your followers with real-time updates without overwhelming your profile grid or compromising your social media calendar.

To post a story, just tap on your profile picture in the top left hand corner and your phone's camera will appear. This will let you either record a regular video or take a picture. You’ll also notice a Boomerang on the bottom of the screen which takes a burst of photos that loops back and forth.

From there, you can add text or draw fun doodles. Once posted, your profile picture on the top bar of your screen will have a colorful ring, which will prompt your followers to click on your picture and watch your story. Although stories don’t get any likes, you can still see how many people viewed your story by swiping up on your screen!


We highly recommend using stories because you can share something new every day with your followers without overloading their feeds with an over-abundance of cat pictures (although, we personally don’t see that as a problem :).

Instagram Makes it Easier to Measure Post Success

Another major Instagram update is the introduction of a functionality called "Insights" which, depending on whether or not your rescue is set up as a company or a non-profit, can help measure how well your posts are doing with your audience. (if you spend time on Facebook you'll notice the similarities to Facebook Insights...after all, Facebook owns Instagram).

Instagram Insights measures 3 metrics commonly in use for social media:

  1. Impressions: the number of times your individual pictures have been viewed by followers
  2. Reach: how many times your profile has been viewed by unique accounts
  3. Demographics: the average time your followers are on Instagram on any given day (note your profile will need at least 100 followers to view the demographics feature).

But to get these Insights your rescue's account must be linked to your rescue's Facebook page AND that page must be listed as a 'small business' in the account portion of your rescue's FB page.

If your rescue isn't listed as a small business, Insights won't work (yet) but there are benefits to keeping it listed as a non-profit (below) ... so no need to switch your account type just yet.

Once your rescue's FB page is marked as a 'small business' you'll be able to view the Insights! Depending on how you want to use social media to support your rescue you can either list it as a non-profit or small business.

Once you’re done setting up your business’ profile you can start reviewing all of the cool analytics behind your instagram posts!


Facebook Announces "Official" Fundraising Pages

Rescuers LOVE Facebook. In fact, we see some rescues only use Facebook to manage their rescue (Facebook even has an entire website dedicated to helping non-profits make the most of the platform). So perhaps it's no surprise then that Facebook continues to add features for these types of organizations. And they just added a pretty revolutionary one that helps nonprofits: the ability to create specific fundraising pages.

If your rescue isn't yet officially registered as a non-profit on Facebook you'll need to do that. It's a pretty simple 3-step application process you can complete here but you will need to provide information like your rescue groups EIN, financial statements and bank information (so that donations made to your rescue through Facebook can go right into a verified bank account).

To get access to donations/fundraising directly in FB your non-profit will just need to apply and fill out 3 steps. Be sure to have your EIN number and bank account info on file so FB can connect payment from your page to your bank!

Once approved as a non-profit partner by Facebook you can add a donate button directly to your Facebook page. This allows your followers to make a donation DIRECTLY to your rescue versus having to go to another website (like Paypal) to do so.


Facebook Adds Additional Page Functionality

In addition to big feature releases, Facebook pretty much changes something about its profiles, newsfeed and/or pages every day; sometimes so often that we can't even tell what has happened until a few months after the fact. But of those upgrades we have noticed since January, 2 are worth calling out:

  • Facebook added templates to pages to allow for more customization and nicer visualization.At Sparkie, since we're a small business, we chose the 'professional services' template which allows us to have features like reviews and a phone number displayed. As a rescue you can use this, or one of the other templates that Facebook now features. Simply go to the 'setting' portion of your page, select edit, and choose a template.
    Go to your rescue page and select 'Settings' in the top right-hand corner. Then scroll on the left-hand side to 'Edit Page' and you will see 'Templates' appear
  • Facebook also made it easier to see what's working - and not - for your rescue's content, by moving weekly insights directly to the admin-view of your page. Now, instead of having to go to the 'Insights' portion of your rescue group's page, the information is surfaced right above your most recent post.
    Post Insights now appear directly on your page versus having to go to the 'Notifications' section to look for them Be careful though!! In doing this Facebook has also made it easier to spend money to promote your page by adding that option directly below this window. Don't be tempted to spend too much money on promotions! They can add up quickly and not always result in an animal's adoption.

Tweets Just Got a Little Bit Longer

We'll round out our post with a short note about Twitter, which we still believe has a lot of value to rescuers and continues to evolve as a social platform. The biggest change the company made this year was to expand the character count of tweets to 140 words and NOT include @names in replies, media attachments, and quoted tweets when counting the words. So now you'll have a bit more room to say what you want to!

Now when you add a picture your character count won't decrease - giving more room to describe the media attached!

What does this mean? You - and your rescues - can spend less time worrying about word count and more time tweeting!

Wrapping Up for 2016

We hope you've enjoyed our blog posts this year. We started the year wanting to be very focused on providing a sense of community to - and between - rescuers, and also lend a voice to the important of using technology and social media when managing a rescue.

Moving into 2017 we'll continue to focus on social media and tech tips for rescuers since these topics resonated most with our audience. But, as always, feedback is always welcome!

Don't hesitate to reach out to with questions on any of these topics - or to let us know what else you'd like to read about! Happy End of 2016!