How The Humane Society uses Twitter Hashtag Chats

Actress Kaley Cuoco and her pup

Yesterday I presented at the Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits Summit in Boston, MA. One of the best sessions was by Anne Hogan, the Community Manager at The Humane Society of the United States.

Anne talked about how her organization is using Twitter to help local shelters find homes for their animals and increase exposure for their social media accounts.

How The Humane Society Uses Hashtag Chats

Originally, they started hosting two hashtag chats on Mondays and Fridays as a fun way to engage their Twitter followers.

Eventually, they started encouraging local shelters on Twitter to use #MuttMonday and #FelineFriday to share photos of adoptable animals, which would then get re-tweeted by @HumaneSociety, many of the regular participants, and even the occasional Big Bang celebrity.

Many Paws Make for Light Work

This concentrated team effort enables each shelter to get more exposure than they’d get Tweeting on their own.

One of the first adoptable cats tweeted on #FelineFriday was Cinder, who was adopted later that day! Cinder’s new owner said he never would have seen him if  The Humane Society hadn’t tweeted about him.

Lost Dog Rescue posted this photo of Tinkerbell (above) in the hash stream this past Monday. Tinkerbell isn’t adopted yet, but she’s already received 35 re-tweets and 8 favorites.

The Humane Society’s Hashtag Strategy

I asked Anne to share–from a marketing perspective–her thinking behind #MuttMonday and #FelineFriday.

Here’s what she had to say:

“At The HSUS, our mission is ‘Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty’ and we think these memes are a great way to celebrate the animals that enhance our lives.

We’re happy to leverage our Twitter following of nearly 150,000 people to get the word out about shelter pets and help local groups get some increased exposure for their animals and their social media accounts.

Both memes have really taken off. We often have people Tweeting us their photos before we even kick off the day with our call for pictures.”

Killing Three Birds With One Stone

Photo by laffy4k

I wish there was a better expression here (sorry Humane Society!), but what I like about their approach is that it gets results in three main areas for each participating shelter:


  1. Each participating shelter gets concentrated burst of exposure for their organization.
  2. They also learn how to use social media effectively from their peers.
  3. They find good homes for dogs and cats.

Many organizations (not yours, of course) miss out on opportunities like this due to shortsightedness. But if they understood how vast the uses are for Twitter, they’d discover amazing ways to use it that would not only help their organization, but hundreds of others.

What creative ways is your organization using Twitter?