great power on social media

8 Ways You're Telling People NOT to Adopt.

"You need to take responsibility for (unintentionally) telling your audience NOT to engage with you."

I want to repeat this…  If you’re taking on social media in the role of a content writer and representing the pets in your organization’s care – you need to acknowledge this huge responsibility and hold yourself accountable for the way you communicate with your audience. 

"You need to take responsibility for (unintentionally) telling your audience NOT to engage with you."

great power on social media

8 Ways You're Telling People NOT to Adopt.

why isn't this pet adopted?

It Might Be You.

Let’s discuss the consequences of content sabotage and expand on eight ways you’re unintentionally saying “do NOT adopt this pet.”

1) Negative Language

Using negative language, such as "they keep getting passed up," or "why isn't this pet adopted yet?" can create a negative impression of the pet, which is discouraging potential adopters.


These phrases can make people feel sorry for the pet, evoking guilt (we'll get to this) instead of considering them as a loving pet they want to welcome into their family.  There's no need to project negativity - stay focused on promoting the pet, not your own wants for the pet.

2) Graphic Descriptions

While it's important to be transparent about a pet's condition, it's equally important to be tactful and considerate in describing the pet's situation.


Remember, while you've seen a lot of horrific things and have strong feelings making you comfortable talking about it all - your audience very likely is scrolling past your photos while eating lunch or when trying to relax after their own long day... They didn't invite you into their home to share the graphic details, you just showed up (this is the nature of social media) making them really turned off by your vicarious rudeness.


Including graphic descriptions of a pet's medical or behavioral issues in social media captions can (and majority of the time does) turn off potential adopters purely because they were not mentally or emotionally prepared for your content.

3) Opinion Oversharing

Sharing personal opinions or biases about a pet in a caption can, and is, harming their chances of adoption.   It's important to remain objective and provide factual information that respects a potential adopters ability to make informed decision about a pet for themselves.


Even attempting to playfully overshare your opinion by saying, "I can't understand why this pet hasn't been adopted" you are actually low-key discrediting your organization.  If you - a professional in pet welfare who is supposed to have a vast understanding of homeless pets - don't know why a pet has not been adopted, do you really think the reader is going to feel confident and inspired to adopt them? Or feel confident in your organization's ability to find homes for pets that need them most?


You might think you are saying "this pet is perfect, no flaws, potty trained, amazing on a leash and will make a great family member to any household"... BUT what your actual message projects to readers is "we don't know what is wrong with this pet since they haven't been adopted yet".

4) Visual Breed Labeling

Creating stereotypes based on the pet's appearance can be misleading and discriminatory.  If you want adopters to stop overlooking dogs based on their assumed breed - you need to STOP using breed in conversations about your pets. 


Associating a pet with a specific breed can force the reader to make false assumptions based on outdated stigmas or misguided generalizations.  Unless you have a DNA test on all your pets, you are irresponsibly misrepresenting every pet by publicly displaying your opinion about the pet's breed (this is also a part of opinion oversharing).


Focus on the individual pet's mannerisms and personality rather than making assumptions about their breed as a primary descriptor.

5) Discussing Trauma

While it's important to disclose factual experiences about a pet's past - be kind and considerate when discussing trauma. 


Using graphic details you may be desensitized to can be very upsetting to potential adopters and discourage potential fosters.  Additionally, it's very challenging to describe a pet's trauma without them being perceived as "emotionally damaged."

6) Evoking Guilt & Shame

While candidness is important, guilt-inducing language such as "If you don't adopt them, they'll be put down" or "You could be their only hope" can feel emotionally manipulative and will turn off supporters who feel ashamed they aren't able to help within the timeline you have dictated.


The reality of many organizations is that pets are at high risk for euthanasia.  You can factually discuss the severity of your situation without using emotional blackmail.  

7) Inaccurate Information

Ensure information you post is accurate and doesn't misrepresent the pet, damage the shelter's reputation, or mislead potential adopters. 


Contrary to popular belief - LESS IS MORE!  A good rule of thumb is that when you are free writing, make it a point to consolidate and remove at least 1/2 of what you wrote.


*This is not to suggest deeper discussions never take place, they just take place in the appropriate space, which is not in a social media caption.

8) Straight Up Saying "NO"

A pretty longstanding and powerful campaign that lingers in people's minds is "No Means No." This will likely surface any time a reader sees the word.  You said NO once, it is perceived as NO adopting that dog/cat.


You can explain a pet's basic needs to audiences by focusing on their YES list.  The same points can be made as using a NO list - and it offers opportunity for potential adopters and supporters who want more information to be directed to an extended profile on your website (more on this in the Call to Action Section).

Good advice

Our friend Asil at Humane Society of Scott County gave us some great feedback on what captures his attention…  “It’s gotta be the butt up, paws down kinda good for me to really enjoy stuff.”  Obviously he’s talking about bully sticks and we’re talking about content but regardless, it’s still great advice.

Annnnd also, if you want to capture some fun content of pups happy snackin’ on bully sticks… Use code RESCUE to get $15 OFF (bully sticks or any other first time purchase) at Mighty Paw! *Nope, this isn’t an affiliate link, Mighty Paw is a rescue-supporting brand that uses long stay pets to promote their products through our Spotlight Pet Program.


Crafting Content that Actually Helps Pets.

Next up, I’ll help you structure posts using a balanced communication style to create highly engaging and compelling content.

8 Ways You're Saying "Don't Adopt this Pet"

It's essential to strike the right balance between emotion and logic in your social media captions.  We'll expand on the "8 ways you're unintentionally saying don't adopt this pet" and how to use the emotional-logical framework instead.

What Even is Your Content Objective?

To create compelling and engaging social media posts for adoptable pets that capture attention, provide value, and drive action you need to tailor content to satisfy clearly defined objectives.

Don't Lose Sight of the Real Goal.

Crafting an effective social media post that keeps your organization's mission front and center requires a call to action that encourages audiences to learn more about a featured pet but also, visit your website to explore all other pets available for adoption!


Our purpose is to support YOURS.

We believe in a higher standard of marketing

We are committed to bettering pet welfare and believe it is critical to provide higher standards of marketing support. 

Our team is dedicated to helping pet welfare organizations implement effective, creative marketing strategies that will ensure better outcomes for the pets in their care.

We're willing (and eager) to do our part by providing ready to use tools and hands-on support to help pet welfare teams reach their goals in a realistic and feasible way!

We create opportunities using collaborations

Pets' lives depend on effective campaigns that connect with and inspire the pet loving community to take action.  We are determined to provide pet welfare organizations with the best possible resources and we utilize strategic alliances with pet care brands to make marketing efforts as successful as possible.

 Building relationships between pet welfare and pet care, we facilitate a high impact, mutually beneficial alliance focused on bettering the health and wellbeing of pets in need and in homes.

We provide free services to pet welfare orgs

All of our programs come with content kits... but unlike any other marketing tool, we also provide the human resources to implement these programs for your already over-extended team.

We are passionate about long stay pets

We are passionate about helping all shelter pets move into homes - but most especially those who have been in shelters the longest or have special needs.  We have a special place in our hearts for big, boxy-headed dogs, seniors, and pets with medical issues.

Knowing these pets often have a harder time getting adopted because they are overlooked by their less in need friends, we focus on creating innovative marketing programs that "Spotlight" these pets making sure they get extra social media love, special treatment and  the best opportunity to reach their future foster and/or adoptive families. 

We enjoy "gifting" back to dedicated teams

Pet welfare organizations are nothing without the very supportive teams constantly giving more of themselves to the pets in need than they (technically) have to.  We love creating opportunities for organizations to provide them with free goodies and special offers as a token of appreciation for all they do.

Let's Connect!


Sploot is a pet welfare marketing agency that provides critical services by creating innovative, effortless, strategic alliances.