Can your pet business go viral?

by Nancy E. Hassel, American Pet Professionals   For many pet business owners and animal rescuers, the dream for their new pet product or a long time pet resident to go viral is a big one.   Over the last few days I have watched as a dog, Chester, at one of our local Long Island animal shelters, the North Fork Welfare Animal League, went viral. Chester, who was a 5 year resident of the shelter, was just adopted because of the attention (wohoo!) is now famous! The story has been covered in top online websites and News Stations from around the WORLD like Huffington Post, Daily Mail so many others. (Local North Fork newspapers first picked up the story and still getting attention as a NYC news crew visited the shelter today).   How they did it: They posted this picture on Facebook... Photo Credit: North Fork Animal Welfare League    ...and the sharing set off like wildfire. I shared it on my personal FB page and they even set up a separate page for him, Chester waiting for five years.  The picture was posted on April 1, and Chester was adopted on Saturday, April 4 – and the picture was shared over 20,000 just on Facebook alone.  The separate page now has more likes than their own Facebook page.   Another was a friend of mine who happens to own a beautiful 12-year-old Doberman, maybe you have heard of her - Ramsey of Ramsey and Pablo in Minnesota.  They already have a good size following on Facebook and I happen to see the post from their owner’s personal page about Ramsey having to go to the Emergency Vet hospital – as she bloated. (My heart sank!) She is 12 years old and the opted to do the surgery, which they were given an estimate of $4500-$6000 to do the surgery. He put a post on his personal page about the ordeal and was not in any way looking for funding for the surgery* - because he helped someone in the past with her dog’s medical bills – she set up a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of the surgery.   In less than 24 hours, wait let me say that again, in less than 24 hours they far surpassed the cost of the surgery and raised over $10,000 on their GoFundMe campaign. Ramsey’s owners are going to donate the rest of the money to local animal shelters. *(Anyone I have ever known who’s dog has bloated is completely shocked that the average cost could be up to $8,000 for the surgery).   It is incredible to witness how quickly something that is so authentic goes viral and gets attention.   The nature of something going viral is that it is usually super popular for a few days of excitement then everyone is onto the next.  So if you are planning a viral campaign remember you could be a one hit wonder.   A couple of quick tips, from a PR pro’s standpoint: Be authentic – if you are trying too hard to get your business to viral – it may be obvious and not work. Do your research – what else has gone viral that is similar to your business or rescue, come up with unique ideas that could work for you. Be creative – to stand out in the viral crowd you have to be a bit different and creative, and also pull at the heartstrings of people online. While it might be an everyday normal thing to you – to others it could be HUGE! Ok, you might get the pun on this one, but remember last month when the Myakka Pines Golf Club in Florida posted the pictures on their Facebook page of ‘Goliath’ the huge alligator walking across the course?  That also went viral worldwide. They went from being virtually unknown with only a few hundred likes on their Facebook page to over night the entire world knowing about them. They stated in several different interviews, that the size of the gator on the golf course was pretty normal for their area.   Think outside the box. If you’re just doing what everyone else is already doing – you most likely will not stand out.   In my opinion things that go truly, authentically viral aren’t the ones that are planned out. You have to have continually good content and be consistent – and think outside of the Facebook box. Youtube is an incredible tool for the everyday business owner to have their video potentially have thousands of views.   Don’t be disappointed if you try something and it fails, you can always try again! Or if you are a viral success – after a bit of time you’re wondering where all the lights and cameras are.  What is your favorite viral campaign that sticks out in your mind in the pet industry?  we would love to know - post a comment below: ]]>

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