In about a week, we’ll be celebrating National Purebred Dog Day. Technically, it will be the second time the day has been observed, but the first time since the State of Colorado officially recognized it last month.
Since its inception, the guiding force behind the day is to “celebrate the diversity, heritage and predictability of the purpose bred dog.” If there is a subtext to the tag line, however, it would be this: “To protect all breeds, their owners, and their ethical breeders from unreasonable legislation, a harmful animal rights and adopt-don’t-shop agenda, and a public largely unaware of the threats to purebred dogs.”
I have fantasy dreams for what we can accomplish on National Purebred Dog Day, but in these early days as we take baby steps, it’s my hope that NPDD will be a day on which purebred dog owners publicly show their pride and reveal the profound relationship they have with their dogs. To borrow a page from the movie, “Network,” it would become a day on which we figuratively open the window, lean out and shout, “I own a purebred dog, maybe I bought it from a great breeder, (maybe I AM that great breeder), I’m proud as hell and I’ve done nothing wrong.”
These days, social media is the 21st century version of an open window, and to make our “shouting” more effective, I’m sharing a few strategies that you might find helpful any time you need to have an effective voice on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms on behalf of your club, your business or your cause. In exchange, I’m asking for your help on May 1 by applying these suggestions to make National Purebred Dog Day 2015 a success.
It all starts with you.Without your help, the “you” that’s reading this right now, it won’t happen. It just won’t.
Experts have built careers on understanding algorithms and Application Programing Interfaces and Klout numbers and synergy and PTA numbers and news jacking and, well, a whole lot of other stuff. Personally, I use the “KISS” approach (“keep it simple, stupid) because I’m not one of those people. I’m always learning, and I’ve learned just enough to be dangerous around small moving parts and the ‘return’ key on a keyboard. What follows is the least you need to know to make you dangerous around small moving parts, too.
The most important advice in this article, however, a call to action. If you do nothing, post nothing, tweet nothing, write nothing, share nothing, and retweet nothing, guess what happens?
Nothing. Nothing happens.
On May 1, do something.
Where to start? Hashtags
The “hashtag” is a building block on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, identi.ca, and other social media sites. On your keyboard, it’s the # symbol found above the number 3 key. When put in front of a word or words (no spaces) the hashtag instantly makes a word easy to find by anyone who wants to see what others are posting about that word or topic. Hashtags bring together conversations on the same topic from all over the world into a single thread and make it easy for people interested in that topic to find it and share it.
If you’re new to hashtags, experiment by picking an arbitrary word, putting the hashtag symbol in front of it, and conducting a search. On Twitter, you’d simply put the hash-tagged word in the search window as seen below:
Once you click “enter,” results come up of other tweets or posts that have included that same hashtagged word. Here’s what came up on Twitter when I did a search on #purebreddogs a little while back:
On Facebook, it’s much the same thing procedure:
Be careful with hashtags, however, because you CAN overdo them; the rule of thumb is to avoid using more than two hashtags per Facebook post or tweet. Twitter even has an official statement on “hashtag abuse:”
“The following behaviors and others like them could cause your account to be filtered from search, or even suspended:
- Adding one or more topic/hashtag to an unrelated tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search.
- Repeatedly tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher.
- Tweeting about each trending topic in turn in order to drive traffic to your profile, especially when mixed with advertising.
- Listing the trending topics in combination with a request to be followed.
- Tweeting about a trending topic and posting a misleading link to something unrelated.”
Following hashtag etiquette gives your post a better chance of being found, and this is important because the whole point of the hashtag is to make it easy for people to find your post so they can RETWEET AND SHARE it.
Why is it so important for posts to be shared?
It’s important because we want National Purebred Dog Day to “trend” on Facebook and Twitter.
“Trends” aren’t just hashtagged words or phrases that are used a lot because if that were the case, the “trends” boxes on Twitter and Facebook would look the same every day and show words like “and” or “but.”
Instead, Twitter determines trends with an algorithm that finds “above average” mentions of a hashtagged word in a short amount of time. Put another way, they use a formula to identify topics that are hugely popular in a short time as determined by the frequency of the hashtagged words or phrases. That’s how a trend is born.
Why are trends important?
Trending topics are powerful because they reveal what people are interested in and care about. News aggregates like Yahoo, Google, Huffington Post, The Verge, and others follow social media trends like a hawk and use them to influence their own direction. Increasingly, marketers are realizing the potential of researching social media trends to provide insight into what is driving today’s consumers. What do you suppose the message is when National Purebred Dog Day appears in the trend column and possibly moves to the top of the list?
Trending is important to us for another reason: The animal rights and adopt-don’t shop lobby have been largely successful in painting purebred dog owners and breeders with a very broad brush. May 1 is our opportunity to show who we really are. Trending, therefore, is important to purebred dog owners because we want to show the world that there are more of us than the media would have the public believe, and that we are caring, ethical, loving people who love all dogs, but have chosen to include a purebred dog in our lives.
Trending is so important that on National DOG Day’s website, they boast (and rightfully so) of having trended not just in this country, but worldwide. In case you’re tempted to gloss over the words below, the salient part reads, “NDD is the only holiday to trend on Twitter and Google #1 Worldwide under 3 different titles on the same day…..”:
How will we know if National Purebred Dog Day trends?
Most social media platforms show what’s trending at any given time. On Facebook, the “trending window” appears at the right side of the page under the icons you see in the screen shot below:
On Twitter, the “trends” box is on the home page:
Visual Content is KING
Pictures and videos attract eyeballs, and Social Media users show a clear preference for posts containing images and videos. Back in 2013, Facebook posts containing photographs or images got an average of 53% more “Likes” and 104% more “Shares” than posts containing only text. That number has only increased as people have gotten more options to share visual content including Vine, Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, gifs, and others. “Vlogging” is also growing (video blogs), so much so that out of the top 100 most subscribed YouTube channels, 17 provide vlogs as their primary style of footage.
Whatever platform you’re on, we’ll be using the hashtag #purebreddogs on May 1 (also #NationalPurebredDogDay), but we’re going to include photographs that tell our story of sound, healthy, happy purebred dogs and the people who adore them.
Ideally, these photographs will include the “I (heart) Purebred Dogs” sign that visually connects each photo to National Purebred Dog Day, but each picture should also show loving, caring, devoted purebred dog owners with their happy dogs. Fortunately, this part is easy for us. Humor always works, as does irony (last year’s photograph of a group of owners with their purebred dogs standing in front of the PETA headquarters sign in Norfolk, Virginia, remains memorable). Instructions on how to print out your own sign appear at the very end of this article.
Now that hashtags, great photos and trending are in your lexicon, it’s time to learn some “inside baseball” by understanding “Newsjacking,”
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, below is an example below of a wildly successful use of “newsjacking.” The backstory behind this image is that in 2013, Super Bowl XLVII was hit by a power outage. Within eleven minutes of the outage, Oreo Cookie posted this picture on Twitter:
Oreo took an event unrelated to itself and inserted its name into the narrative. It used someone else’s story and made it their story with superb timing, good humor and a photograph relevant to the event. By hijacking (or “newsjacking”) the blackout, Oreo inserted itself into the social media conversation – and that is the essence of newsjacking.
It takes finesse, quick timing, and a little luck to succeed at newsjacking. Getting it wrong can lead to disastrous results, something Epicurious found out when it posted the tweet below after the Boston Marathon bombings last April:
To my great delight, PETA also blundered when it equated its outlandish agenda with the civil rights movement in which people struggled and died:
What would “newsjacking” look like for National Purebred Dog Day?
The “tweet” below is a fine example of how someone got it right when he “newsjacked” Dale Earnhardt’s acquisition of an Irish Setter puppy to insert the importance of buying from an ethical breeder and mentioning National Purebred Dog Day (notice the #purebredDogs):
Successful newsjacking requires good timing because one doesn’t want to “newsjack” a stale, old story, or one that’s gone past the crescendo of interest in social media (which you can determine by seeing what’s trending). It stands to reason, then, that the person who watches trends and incoming stories has an edge.
Swallow hard because what’s next is the really hard part
Those of us who want to see National Purebred Dog Day succeed on May 1 will find this next part hard. Really hard.
As we post our pictures, write our hashtagged words, and express our joy of purebred dog ownership, there will be people who can’t WAIT to tear us to pieces on Twitter and Facebook, and they’re salivating with anticipation.
You know who they are.
They’re PETA, and HSUS, and SHARK. They’re the “adopt-don’t-shop” zealots on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.
They write blogs entitled, “The Top Ten Best Breeds for Children,” and number two is a rescue mutt.
They will be gunning for us, and they’ll do it with taunts, ridicule and lies.
They’ll post screen shots of personal Facebook conversations taken surreptitiously and out of context, and they’ll share photos of horribly bred dogs along with links to articles that bash purebred dog breeders
They’ll use words like “eugenics,” and “racism,” “elitist” and “puppy mill.”
They will newsjack OUR day to promote their agenda. They will make each of us so angry, so frustrated, that shooting fire out of our eyes and billowing smoke out of our ears will seem possible. We will want to lash out and fight back.
What are we going to do about such people on May 1?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
We’re going to ignore them so completely that it will be as if they don’t exist because far worse than being looked over is being overlooked. Remember: People who are a threat get noticed. People who don’t matter don’t get noticed at all. Our photographs of well bred, happy dogs will make liars out of them, anyway.
When you understand that the people who will try to hijack our day on May 1 want us to react, want us to respond to them with vitriol, their plan of action becomes very apparent: Every second spent on them is one less second spent on getting our message across.
I think I can promise you this much. If you respond to even one of their taunts, assume that a screen shot will be taken of your response and trotted out later, probably out of context, at a time and place that suits them. Assume that by responding to them, you’ve just made their day.
Distracting us is a victory for them, and for that reason, I’m asking you to please ignore them. Please.
Of all the things I’ve suggested that we do on May 1, this will be the hardest. As an administrator of the National Purebred Dog Day page on Facebook, I’ll be able to control any shenanigans with the simple tap of the “delete” and “ban” buttons, but Twitter is a different platform, and once tweeted, a remark hovers around forever.
- Post a great picture and include #PurebredDogs and/or #NationalPurebredDogDay (all one word because remember there are no spaces in a hashtagged word or phrase);
- Do a search for other posts containing those hashtags and when you find them, SHARE, REPOST and RETWEET them;
- Consider getting active on Instagram, Yik Yak, Snapchat and Pinterest because that’s where the 18-34 year old demographic is going;
- Our “enemies” may also be hijacking our hashtags, but ignore them, and ignore their venom. This is our day.
Let’s make it count.
Instructions for the sign: To download the “I (heart) Purebred Dogs” sign, click on one of the links below. You DO NOT need to open a Dropbox account to access these files, simply exit out of the prompt window that wants you to open an account and proceed to the links.