Cantina was a spunky, duck-footed Bombay that had been living at the Fredericksburg SPCA since being picked up as a stray kitten 3 years ago. A new administrative staff had recently been installed, and their progressive attitude toward social media prompted them to start showcasing overlooked gems like Cantina on their Facebook page.
Seeing an opportunity to help, Kelly Duer of Fairfax County Animal Advocates reached out and arranged a day trip to the shelter, just for little Cantina. There was nothing wrong with her, it was just a matter of letting people know she’s there.
She was in need of a new bio and some good, representative visuals. Here’s what we did.
Active cats like Cantina are tough to photograph, so videos are a better option. kept her camera rolling while I introduced Cantina to every toy in the hustle-bag. Tablet games, the robofish, the roflcopter (mini-drone), the laser pointer, and everything in between – Cantina loved it all. The idea behind the toy variety is to give the cat opportunities to express various facets of their personality and discover marketable quirks. After observing an array of behaviors and responses (getting to know them), you’ll find it much easier to portray them as an enticing character rather than a generic, “affectionate love bug”.
Bio & copy
Here’s the original bio.
THIS LOVELY GIRL IS CANTINA! SHE’S A SWEET, INDEPENDENT GIRL WHO LIKES TO DO THINGS ON HER OWN TERMS. SHE IS FRIENDLY AND AFFECTIONATE AND WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN SHE’S HAD ENOUGH. SHE’S A BEAUTFIUL GIRL WHO ENJOYS PLAYING WITH TOYS AND LOOKING OUT WINDOWS. CANTINA WOULD PROBABLY DO WELL WITH OTHER ANIMALS UPON PROPER INTRODUCTION. IF CANTINA SOUNDS LIKE THE CAT COMPANION FOR YOU, COME IN AND MEET HER TODAY!
Not bad, but offputting in a handful of ways and not quite representative of the cat we met.
- All caps: not even once.
- To the uninitiated, she sounds like the kind of asshole who will bite you for petting her too long. Be mindful of how shelter-speak that makes sense to cat-savvy people can be interpreted as euphemisms by others.
- She sounds generic at best. There’s nothing here that makes her stand out or let her human know that she’s a perfect fit.
Here’s her new bio.
Butterfly assassin, robo-fish smacker, drone-stalker, and nemesis of the red dot; Cantina never turns down an invitation to play. This affectionate Bombay mix gets along with other cats and has been known to head-boop dogs, which makes one wonder why she’s spent most of her life waiting for a home.
The good news is that we have an answer: nobody knew about her. The crummy news is that she’s coming up on her 3rd anniversary of shelter life at Fredericksburg Regional SPCA. More good news: you can help get sweet little Cantina home before that bummer of a milestone! All it takes is a like, share, or comment to potentially connect her with that special someone. Better yet… go claim her for yourself!
- Copy is relevant to the visual media (more on that below) and illustrates adjectives like “affectionate” and “playful” with examples.
- Since her attitude toward cats AND dogs was known, we mentioned it because it’s a common question and disqualifier for many potential adopters. Cats, kids, dogs… cover the knowns whenever possible.
- Noting the upcoming 3-year anniversary created a mild sense of urgency without panic or despair. Always following up with a call to action, whether it be a question, instruction, etc.
- Stay positive, and save the pathos for truly dire situations. Emotionally exhausting your audience will cost you followers.
The media experiment
A few days after the new bio and video were posted, Cantina was still at the shelter and I couldn’t figure out why.
The post wasn’t getting the engagement we were hoping for, so we decided to pursue a hunch about the effectiveness of video compared to pictures in context to cat hustling on the FB platform.
Note: FB’s algorithms prefer and prioritize native (loaded to FB, not linked from Youtube) videos, which may have had something to do with it. To learn more about the miserable beast that’s destroying your page’s organic reach, you can read more about the Edgerank algorithm and how it distributes your content here.
FCAA agreed to re-post her under under similar conditions* with pictures instead, anticipating a significant increase in likes and shares.
Were we right? Absolutely.
From these charts, we see that the photo post completely dusted the video, exponentially outperforming it within 24 hours. But… data be damned when it comes to emotional decisions… it was the video that got her adopted.
Cantina’s adopter fell in love with her robofish skills, and she was home within 5 business days of the video post. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, her adopter (thanks to the tip o=in her bio) found a dog at the shelter that Cantina got along with and took them both home that day.
With all the interest expressed in comments on the photo post, it’s likely that she wouldn’t have been waiting much longer if that were her only media exposure.
Data aside, the inference of Cantina’s happy ending underlines an important truth in marketing cats: not everyone has to see the the post, just the right one.