Social Media Standards & Guidelines Example – Animal Shelter

Feb 11, 2017 | Policy Library

Social Media Standards, Guidelines and Policies for KC Pet Project

(View a PDF of the original document here.)

This document is to lay out the rules and standards of all KC Pet Project social media communications. As the largest open-admission No Kill shelter in Kansas City working with the least amount of resources, social media is critical to communicating stories, needs, and general information with the public, businesses, media, etc. These standards are to be followed when engaging online on behalf of KC Pet Project. The Manager of Marketing & Development has the right to update this document and add to it at any time. Please sign the online communications/policy after review and an electronic copy will be made available to you as well. Any questions can be directed to Tori Fugate, Manager of Marketing & Development, at ———- or ————.

Table of Contents:

  • Facebook
    • Content
    • Voice
    • What to post
    • What not to post
    • When to post
    • Types of Posts
    • Scheduling Posts
    • Pinning Posts
    • Tagging Businesses
    • Creating an Event
    • Interacting on Facebook as your page
    • Maintaining the Facebook Page
  • Monitor Insights and Activity Page
    • Posts to Page
    • Boost Posts
    • Negative Posts or Comments
    • Guidelines for Deleting Comments and Banning Individuals
  • Instagram
  • Twitter


The number one rule of Facebook: Keep your audience engaged. Before you consider posting anything, ask yourself the following:

  • Have I posted any update like this in the past 24 hours?
  • Do I think that this post will get a lot of likes/shares/comments?
  • Did I include a call to action?
  • Does this post reflect the normal standards of the KC Pet Project main page?
  • Is this post as brief as possible?
  • Am I positive in this post?

If on Monday, you posted about kittens needing litter, then do not post about this again for a little while as to not over-saturate your audience with the same request. KC Pet Project is always in need of litter. Find other ways to ask for it instead of outright saying it. Be sure to engage your audience by including a call to action (ie. Donate, Share, help spread the word, etc). Shorter posts get more attention than longer ones. If you need to write a lot, break it into paragraphs. Do not include more than 1 URL in your Facebook post.

KC Pet Project’s voice is always positive. Even if you’re sharing a story of an animal being abused, tell the story in the most delicate way possible and be sure to highlight that KC Pet Project is now caring for and saving the pet’s life. If there is a problem, identify and end with the solution. KC Pet Project does not ever post about “urban myths”, rumors, hoaxes, or anything that could be perceived as hearsay. We only post about matters that deal directly with KC Pet Project. Our voice is always personable, yet professional. We are never rude or combative, even with negative comments or feedback. Avoid using cute terms or puns to communicate. Do not make animals talk with misspelled words. For example, refrain from the following:

  • Furever
  • Pawsome
  • Pawsitively
  • Foster Furrrr-iday
  • I can haz home?
  • Pibbles (in place of pit bulls)

Only exception to this rule is if there is an event that we’re promoting that has a pun as the name (ie Cat-tastrophe at the Riot Room)

What to post
The content featured on the KC Pet Project Facebook page should always pertain to KC Pet Project, our mission, events, individual pet stories, etc. If you need help deciphering what is appropriate for posting, please ask —- or —- before posting. Be creative! Post different things to keep your audience engaged. Do you have a new promotional idea or suggestions? Let the development team know. Always include the KC Pet Project website URL for posts about adoption specials, donation needs, etc. Post ideas:

  • Individual photos or videos of pets with bio’s or the story you’re trying to tell
  • Media stories about KC Pet Project
  • Success stories about dogs who have received medical care
  • Adoption photos
  • Request for items from wish list and specialty items
  • Pets in need of medical attention
  • Adoption event flyers and upcoming promotions
  • Thank you’s to individuals and companies who have helped KCPP in some way
  • Share behind the scenes photos/videos of staff and volunteers
  • Legislative updates as they pertain to KC Pet Project
  • Have ideas? Let us know!

What not to post

  • Memes that do not have anything to do with KC Pet Project
  • Viral feel-good stories
  • Stories about national crisis situations that do not have to do with our organization or animal welfare
  • Personal opinion posts
  • Emoticons or emojis

Note: Items like cat food and litter are always needed. Instead of creating a specific post just for litter, figure out how you can ask for them with other posts that are similar.

When to post
Post things when you expect people are on Facebook the most: early morning before 9:00am, during the lunch hour, and after 5:30pm when people are off work. Sunday night posts usually get a good response.

Types of Posts

  • Status Post:
    Status updates are posts that do not include a photo or link. KC Pet Project rarely posts these, but a good example is:
    “Tune into Fox 4 Kansas City from 7:00-9:00am this morning to see live updates about our current adoption special.”
    Status updates are more suited for Twitter, so when in doubt, just tweet an update.
  • Photo Update
    Photo updates are our most popular posts. They are great because they attract the most attention, get the most shares, and are the most engaging. If there is a link to be included, try to make sure the link is as short as it can be and highlighted in the post. For example:

Use the following types of links:

Don’t use the following types of links:

Online link shortening tools are available if needed. Use hashtags to help others find your posts easier.

  • Types of Photos to Post:
    • Professional photos by volunteer photographers
    • If using a phone, improve the image by adding a filter
    • Flyers and graphics announcing specials or promotions
    • Volunteers or members of the community doing things to help our pets
    • Photos that recognize donations or grants
    • Pictures of dogs playing outside
    • Happy looking pets!
  • Types of Photos NOT to post:
    • Anything with bars in front
    • Dark images of the pets in their kennels
    • Sad, scared looking pets
  • Link Post
    KC Pet Project does not post a lot of link posts. Links Posts are when you type a link into the status bar and the image directing you to the website, comes up. This post, once shared, doesn’t show the original text that KC Pet Project has typed about the link. People either have to create their own text, copy and paste the original post in their status bar, or it just shows up that they shared the link. Try to avoid this type of post.
  • Photo Album Post
    When you post 5 or more photos, post them as an album. Go to Photos > Add Photos > then click the option to add photos from an album. Name your album and edit the order that you want the photos to appear. You can write descriptions for each pet or information about what is presented in the photo.

Hint: Sometimes the “Make Album Cover” option on the individual pictures does not work. It’s best to just order the photos with your first photo as the album cover.

  • Video Posts
    Video Posts are great because they engage your audience on a different level. If you have something compelling to show, it is easier to showcase that story by using a video. You can either download videos directly from your computer or upload them through an app, like Instagram. You can also post videos as a YouTube link.
  • Posting to Other Pages
    Generally, there is a plan in place daily for posts to Facebook. Even if we post 3-5 times in one day, every post is different. Keep in mind that if you plan to post to another page, it will show up in people’s timelines as a separate post. We do not want to post a dog available for adoption in the morning and 30 minutes later post another dog available at Zona Rosa. This shows a lack of diversity in our posts and reflects disorganization. Please consult with the Manager of Marketing & Development before you intend to post to another page, so it can be reviewed if it conflicts with another scheduled post.
  • Rule: Before you post, double check your details.
    Are you getting ready to post an album? Double check to make sure that all of the pets are still available. Posting an individual dog? Be sure to note all of the details (age, sex, breed) and behavior notes in PetPoint before posting. We don’t want to post that a dog is great with kids when we know that it had behavior concerns with children in its former home.

Scheduling Posts
Scheduling posts is a great and easy process. You can draft a status update with a photo, link or video and schedule it to post at a later time or date. This is particularly great for weekends. Locate the clock on the status bar of your post and that will bring up the times. If you need to change the time, or want to publish the post now, go to your activity log on mobile or above your last post on the website to edit it.

Pinning Posts
You can feature a post at the top of your page for the duration of week or until you select to unpin the post. Click the pencil icon in the upper-right corner of the post and select Pin to Top. This is great if you’re promotion specials or a featured story.

Tagging Businesses
To tag a person or business, type the “@” symbol then type in the name of the page or person you wish to tag. There will be a drop down menu to select from. You cannot tag a person or business more than once in the post. Try to do this whenever the opportunity presents itself. This is also critically important when you’re recognizing a grant, major gift, sponsorship, etc. Tagging also helps you reach a broader audience and helps your partnerships in your community.

Creating an Event
To create an event, go to the Events tab on the left side of your home feed and click Create Event in the upper-right corner of the page. From here, you can customize the event, edit its privacy settings, add an image and invite guests. You have to include an event time, place, and type of event. You can also include the location of the event, tag businesses, etc. When you promote the event, realize that any edits or posts to the page automatically show up in a person’s timeline who has RSVP’d for the event, so try to not post in it very often.

  • Examples of events to create:
    • Volunteer Orientations
    • Third-Party Fundraisers
    • Major organization events (ie: Hoops for Hounds, Movies for Mutts, etc)
    • Training Classes or Educational Classes offered at the shelter

Many places that hold fundraisers on behalf of KC Pet Project opt to have the event created from our Facebook page as opposed to theirs because we usually have more likes.

Interacting on Facebook as your Page
Once you become an admin on a Page, the default is that any action you take on the Page shows up as coming from your Page. That includes likes, comments, etc. But you can take it a step further when you visit other Pages by “Using Facebook as ‘Page Name’”. You can get notifications about activity on your Page, see stories from the pages you like in your news feed, and interact with other Pages as your Page. You will see this as an option in the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook account. Please use this wisely! Remember, you are representing KC Pet Project and all the same guidelines must be followed. And don’t forget to switch back to yourself when in this setting.

Facebook also recently made an update allowing for an easier switch when commenting/liking as a Page versus your personal account. To the right of the number of shares on your post, you’ll find a dropdown menu that allows you to choose which account you’d like to comment from on that particular post. Please note, unless you switch to your personal account and you “like” the post, it will show up as your own Page liking your own post (which we’d like to avoid). If you want to make personal comments or like a post on a Page you manage, be sure to use this feature to switch to your personal profile.

Maintaining Your Facebook Page

Social media is all about relationships. We are building our support system by engaging our audience. It’s the biggest way that we communicate about everything going on with KC Pet Project and it helps us bring in monetary support for the organization.

Rule: Once you post something, you own it.
When you put a post out there, you are responsible for commenting on that post, answering questions, etc. People will keep coming back to your page if you are engaged with your audience. Though, questions will be asked that you may choose to ignore. For example, “how much? “ is often posted with small dogs and puppies. Feel free to share the adoption fee within the post, especially if a lot of people are asking, but do not feel like you have to respond to questions that are worded in this way.

Monitor your Insights and Activity Page
Are your likes and shares down for the week? Have fewer new people liked your page this week compared to last week? Find out why. Review your insights page to see what posts worked over what didn’t. Your page should constantly be evolving. As long as people are engaged, keep doing what you’re doing. Monitor the Activity Page for comments, questions, posts to page, etc.

Boost Posts
Boosting a post is essentially paid advertising for Facebook. On the right hand of a post, select “Boost Post” which will bring up prompts your options for increasing the reach of your post. You can select your budget, the duration of the post, who your target audience is, and payment information. You can also access this from your personal account under “Ads Manager”. Boosting posts can be to increase your reach on a certain post or to gain more likes for your Page.

Posts to Page
Since KC Pet Project is an animal welfare organization, people will always post animal-related comments, questions, concerns such as lost pet flyers, animals that are scheduled to be put down in rural communities, ideas for fundraisers, etc. KC Pet Project does not accept animals from outside of Kansas City, MO, which you are more than welcome to comment on posts about animals from outside our community. People will ask for financial help with their own pets. In most of those cases, you may hide the post from the page. We do not wish ill upon any animal, but our main priority is to fundraise for the pets in our care.

Negative Posts or Comments
Vulgar language/personal attacks: If anyone uses vulgar language or attacks other individuals, please delete their comments. If their comment was posted in a thread of comments, then you’ll need to respond by stating why their comment was deleted. Example below.
We will not tolerate any vulgar language on this Page. If you wish to state your opinion, please do so with the use of appropriate language. Thank you.
Negative comments related to KC Pet Project: Our organization will be criticized from time to time. Those who are angry with the way that they were treated or the way a situation was handled, will sometimes post about it on our page. As a general rule, it is best to comment on it to explain our side of the story. Deleting or hiding a post indicates that we have something to hide, so it is always best to post.
The following types of posts or comments are subject to removing from the page:

  • Any use of profanity
  • Personal attacks on staff members or the organization
  • Excessive and explicit criticism of KC Pet Project or other organizations
  • Excessive negativity, and incitement and/or approval of violent or illegal activities
  • Unlawful or objectionable content, including harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, graphic, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, racially offensive or otherwise objectionable material
  • Advertising outside of KC Pet Project
  • Requests for personal pets

KC Pet Project reserves the right to delete comments at any time, or take action against any account, for any reason, including permanent bans from your account. We reserve the right to modify or expand the above guidelines as necessary.

Banning as a general rule, it is a method of last resort. Please use this wisely and refer to the commenting policy to understand violations. Repeated violations will warrant a ban.


Instagram has a different audience than your Facebook page and you should treat it as a separate way to communicate. Keep your posts short and sweet, mention other Instagram accounts or tag them if applicable. Examples of things to post:

  • Pictures taken from your phone of individual pets or groups of pets
  • Short videos
  • Pictures from events

You can share to Twitter and Facebook directly from the account. Please keep in mind that when you switch from your personal account to the organization account, the Facebook page will need to be linked up before you post it. This action can be found in the settings under Linked Accounts > select Facebook > select KC Pet Project page. Use hashtags like #kcpetproject to get a wider following on your posts.


Twitter is a really fun way to communicate with your fans. It is also a huge way to communicate with the media. Monitor twitter using apps on your phone to receive push notifications or through TweetDeck on your computer to see updates throughout the day. Interact with people using hashtags. Is there a new anchor in town at a news station? Welcome them to Kansas City. Do you have a dog by the name of a famous person, athlete or thing? Tweet to the company or individual their picture and a cute caption. You never know, they may retweet you! The more people you follow, the bigger an audience you’ll have.

Other Resources Available
Photography Guidelines (in development)
Third Party Fundraiser Guidelines (in development)

When in doubt, ask!

Social Media Contact:


Social Media Standards, Guidelines and Policies for KC Pet Project

By signing this document, I understand the rules, guidelines and standards of KC Pet Project’s Social Media Policy. I have been provided a copy of this document and have been given the opportunity to read it, to ask any questions, and to provide input about this document.

I further acknowledge that if these standards, guidelines and policies are not followed, disciplinary action may be issued by the Manager of Marketing & Development and the CEO/Executive Director. If policies and procedures are not followed and multiple warnings are issued, administrative privileges may be revoked by the Manager of Marketing & Development or the CEO/Executive Director of KC Pet Project.



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