I had a question for organizations who have a FaceBook page and other social media forums that they actively use to support their rescue/organization. We have volunteers and a social media person who do our posting. Posting is great, but many times there comes a barrage of questions, and questions that we don't want to (or have time) to turn into a social media conversation. Also, our team posting may not necessarily know the answer to the specific question. We advise people if they have questions to contact us directly at our email or even call us. It seems this is not satisfactory to people and they want the answers to their questions on social media.

Does anyone else experience this and if so, how do you handle it?


Kim Kamins

  • JeaniatWAGS    April 21, 2019 at 08:23 PM

    We respond to the majority of questions right in the thread, and if it seems more appropriate (as in adoption counseling, financial questions, sensitive concerns) we respond by stating in a friendly manner (i.e. with a smiley face) that we are sending them a PM. People like getting personal attention and it shows everyone that we were addressing the concern or question. Sometimes we are really thrilled to have a question brought up because it may not have dawned on us that people might want to know or be confused and we get a chance to address it. And comments help with the Facebook algorithm more than even shares (per my understanding) so it really is a good problem to have!

  • LindsayL    December 12, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    May I ask why you don't want to reply to comments? Conversations in the comments increase the likelihood that more people will see your post. I reply to almost every comment, even just to say thank you or sometimes I post a GIF. If it's something I don't necessarily want to answer via FB (example - no, this dog cannot go to a home with cats because he thinks they are snack food) I will just craft a general reply that keeps things positive and redirect. Example: Great question, Sally! Rocky prefers dogs and people to cats; he would not want to live in a home with a feline. We would love for you to come by our shelter and learn about other dogs who may fit with your family.

    ^^ I have some drafted answers to FAQs and go over them with my intern. We don't cut and paste but since we get asked similar questions often, it speeds things up.

    If you have a volunteer checking messages, I would use "Saved Replies." Take the Top 10 FAQs you get via messenger and create a reply. Then the volunteer can automatically send what you've approved each time. It also helps them understand your expectations for when you reply to a comment.

    • Fearless Kitty    December 13, 2018 at 02:26 AM

      Hi Lindsay, thanks for your feedback. Great information.

      We do reply to comments, what I was trying to figure out was when people want to start a conversation on a post after we answer their question by asking more questions, or start to give their opinion on the situation. That's when we advise them to contact us directly via email or even call us but they don't seem to want to do that, they want to continue on the social media forum.

      I like your idea of crafting a general response - this could certainly be helpful for us to end a conversation.

  • Charlotte at Maddie's Fund   Maddie's Fund Staff  November 19, 2018 at 07:14 PM

    I saw this recommended article come up from ASPCA that might be helpful for you! It's their top 10 tips for responding to negative comments: https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/shelter-management/top-10-tips-responding-negative-comments

    It includes tips on being honest, instituting a code of conduct that you can refer back to when people ask questions you've already mentioned should be answered by contacting the rescue, etc. Hope it helps!

    • playgroupboss    November 20, 2018 at 07:54 AM

      Good article, our team (myself and 2 adoption counselors) uses all of the techniques listed. Our agency actively practices inclusiveness and being positive on social media and in general. Our FB page is our marketing sandbox where we engage our community in positive dialogue. We invite everyone to play in our sandbox and we're patient even when others aren't playing nice. But if you aren't playing nice and it's to the detriment of our animals or our agency, if someone is over the top I have no issue blocking them from our FB page entirely, bye bye. I'll try to engage first before doing that, but I don't hesitate either. Figuring out what to delete, what to answer, when answering will help vs hurt all takes time and experience to figure out. When we do decide to engage we try to keep things factual and direct. Often saying less is more. Free adoption promotions are one time where we have to actively monitor comments on posts much more. One rule of thumb we use is answering a particular concern once on the thread and deleting "complaining" comments after that which ask the same question/concern. Encouraging people to come in in person is a go to strategy as well...easier to communicate in person and gets them in the door! Hope some of that perspective helps. Best of luck.

      • Fearless Kitty    November 21, 2018 at 05:16 AM

        Hi Playgroupboss - thanks for your response, and for making me laugh out loud with "I have no issue blocking them from our FB page entirely, bye bye."

        It never ceases to amaze me how people can take something that is meant to be positive or factual and try to flip it into something that is negative and/or serves their own agenda (which is really what is going on).

        Your response is super helpful, I'm sharing it with my team.


    • Fearless Kitty    November 20, 2018 at 07:27 AM

      Thank you for sending this Charlotte - this will help a lot. We just want to be able to be honest with folks, answer questions when it's appropriate and avoid getting into an emotional debate.

  • Sam    November 19, 2018 at 06:27 PM

    Our social media "team" (i.e. myself and one other staff member) mostly post from home, so we don't always have the most up-to-date information (like whether a particular animal came into the shelter that afternoon) and we don't have the animal's files easily accessible. So a while back we wrote this in the "Our Story" section (used to be called something else) that appears on the right side of the Facebook page: "This Facebook page is maintained by shelter staff members during their off hours. Since we usually post from home, we do not have up to the minute updates or the complete files of our adoptable animals. We do our best to answer any questions, but we encourage people to call (920-674-2048) or email (shelter@hsjc-wis.com) the shelter directly if you have questions regarding the status or the history of any of the shelter's animals for the most accurate answers."

    When someone has a question that we aren't able to answer, we basically copy/paste that paragraph. I've never run into a situation where someone responded negatively to it.

    • ChristineO    December 01, 2018 at 06:20 AM

      Sam, what is your Facebook page? Thank you, Christine

      • Sam    December 04, 2018 at 06:17 AM


  • ChristineO    November 19, 2018 at 06:56 AM

    I think this is more a question of what/how do you handle a thread on social media that is bashing your organization? Do you respond or hopefully, let it die naturally. We currently request all parties to contact us via a visit, phone call or email to discuss their concerns. We've had a few people, not like the fact that we will not use Facebook or Nextdoor to "explain" ourselves.

  • Michele B    November 18, 2018 at 08:22 AM

    We have found that if you have your core post include: gender, age, price, little info about them, stating "not cat tested" & to bring your dog & kids for a meet & greet, then it cuts down tremendously on questions.