Social Media Got Me This…..

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We have been looking to adopt a dog since last summer, which by the way is not always as simple as showing up and going home with a pet that day. It felt like the job interview process of applying and being told we were too late or “not qualified” enough – apparently they expect everyone to have multiple kids, a house, and a yard with a white picket fence! But we persisted, looking at websites from AdoptAPet.com to Craigslist to the local MSPCA. There is even a “Tinder” app for dogs, BarkBuddy, that we swiped left and right at for months, trying to find our one. Example below, and warning: this is super addictive!

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What we didn’t do, partially because so much information is online now and partially because the changing ways millennials “shop around”, we never went to a shelter in person; we felt with the pictures and backstories written online that we didn’t need to. And then one day we saw this and we knew we had the one.

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Various Facebook messages later with the adoption agency and we set up a meet and greet. And then we got to take her home.

Kona, the 4 month old spaniel retriever mix. Many sleepless nights and a few accidents later and we are off to the races with our cute puppy. (Laverne was her original shelter-given name above in the Facebook post).

What amazed me in this whole process was that everything with the Rescue was done via social media and their website, and not only did they encourage users to explore these avenues first, they basically didn’t let anyone just walk into a “store-front” to pick a pet from behind a set of cages or windows.

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This got me thinking about this type of “shopping.” Rather than go to the store to buy electronics or certain clothes, many of us now shop on retailer websites, apps, or aggregators like Amazon or Wayfair. Why is this any different than “shopping” for a pet? One would argue you lack the person touch but I would counter with there was very much the personal touch, once we had the search narrowed down. She wasn’t sent in a FedEx box with a signature upon delivery; we corresponded with the Rescue over Facebook, email, text, and phone and each side had plenty of information on each other.

I believe that as the internet continues to expand and there are more offerings for delivery of goods and services, more review sites and blogs to inform customers, and the efficiency and costs are lowered, we will see further acceptance of these types of services, whether tangible goods or a living being like a pet. I would argue that given the amount of active users on this Rescue’s Facebook page – those who like, donate, or constantly comment on posts – that it adds an even further level of comfort and credibility. Case in point: we looked at getting a breeder dog last summer, found a dog for $2,500, but could not find any reviews on the internet of whether this was a credible breeder, their dogs had behavioral or hereditary problems, their breeding methods were questionable or not, or any testimonials positive or negative – all of which gave us hesitation. Seeing almost 700,000 people “liking” the Rescue page above was significant validation of the organization.

To take it one step further, I have also noticed the proliferation of people who have social media pages for their pets! Up until we got a pet I thought it was comical, maybe even weird, but since adopting Kona people seem to ask me more about her than me (foreshadowing what it is like when people have children I guess). So we broke and created Facebook and Instagram accounts which also required a new Gmail account; I don’t even have a personal Instagram account yet our dog does! And thus we can now one-click post pictures and status updates about our dog to keep the eager world apprised.

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I hope you have enjoyed the blog and if you would like further information about this Rescue, please see the links below. The stories and pictures of these dogs being rescued from kill shelters are heart-warming and if anyone ever wants to adopt a pet, please consider this rescue organization.

Big Fluffy Dog Rescue Website

Big Fluffy Dog Rescue Blog

Big Fluffy Dog Facebook Page

Big Fluffy Dogs Twitter Page

9 comments

  1. I think the point you raised about reviews is really important. Because people are so used to being able to look at reviews online, they are hesitant to buy anything that doesn’t have a review. This used to be done professionally for more expensive items, through mediums such as Consumer Reports. Now that user generated content is so popular, and it seems like almost everything has the potential to be reviewed, people are wary to purchase anything that does not. It is so interesting to hear how social media is affecting small industries such as pet adoptions. It is also great that these companies know how to effectively use social media for their specific purposes. Great post!

  2. It continues to amaze me how social media can change every industry! Before reading this article I never would have considered looking for dogs online. My family has always made the trip to the shelter because that’s all we’ve ever known. One thing that is tricky about posting animals is that they all have different personalities which can’t be seen in pictures. For example, my cat is very friendly (even more friendly than my dog) which I never would have known until seeing him in person. I can definitely see the benefit in narrowing down animals through this search method though!

  3. What a great story! The comparison you made between finding a dog and online retail shopping is interesting. There are clearly advantages to going this route. Next to the reviews, it seems that the main benefit of social media is it allows you to expand your search radius. When my family looked for a dog we were able to look at places all over and weren’t confined to “storefronts” in our particular area. This is also a great example of how important reviews are. Successful businesses realize this and utilize their websites and pages to their advantage. I think it provides a degree of transparency that without I would be more hesitant to find a pet online. Also love the pictures and way you integrated Kona’s social media accounts!

  4. Great post. We actually know a dog named Kona, and just got a 5-month-old lab ourselves around Christmas. I guess one problem these shelters have to deal with is people with dog fighting rings go to shelter to get “training animals’ for their pitbulls. I bet the SM platforms let them stalk you a bit as well to ensure you are on the up and up.

  5. A key takeaway that I personally found to be very interesting is how the use of online reviews has somewhat increased the expectations of both buyers and the sellers. With such high levels of transparency and the sheer amount of information that can be found online, both the buyer and the seller can afford to be picky. For example, some buyers will only choose to adopt a dog with a certain personality type, while some sellers are only willing to give over their dog to a certain family dynamic. If on the other hand this information was not readily available, both parties may have made a less beneficial “transaction.” Great post and cute dog!

  6. willybbolton · ·

    I enjoyed this post. I remember my Mom doing a lot of research online and on blogs to find our new dog. I think social media would probably have been an easier way to find one. Social media seems like a pretty great solution for dogs who need to be adopted. Also as someone who wants to adopt a dog, you could probably do more searching way faster than going to different shelters etc.

  7. Really great post! I like that you pointed out that the lack of face-to-face interaction between you and the Rescue did not make your pet adoption experience any less personal by any means. In fact, it seemed to have the opposite, as you were both able to get to know each other via multiple forms of communication. Also, the plethora of user reviews allowed you to gain an even greater understanding of how the Rescue operates. I think this post really highlights how social media and digital can offer interactions with more value than face-to-face in many instances.

  8. Very cool post. I remember getting my dog 10 years ago and there was no type of online review at all. It is very interesting to see how much the digital landscape has transformed since then and how useful having the Internet is for everything we do. I also agree that it is very interesting how the use of online reviews has somewhat increased the expectations of both buyers and the sellers.

  9. Interesting take on a very flawed industry. With so many dogs and so little places to house them, things often end sadly. Using social media and the Internet to match an even higher number of dogs with new owners would be wonderful. one problem with pounds and the humane society is low numbers at the actually facility, this eliminates that

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