Giving Trending Topics a Social Purpose

By: Emily Abagis


Ok, now that I have your attention, look at these cute dogs that are available for adoption!


Being a huge animal lover and frequent indulger in popular culture, I find myself watching silly videos and Googling nonsense topics for hours on end. Somehow, the more ridiculous the subject, the more newsworthy it becomes and all of a sudden, its trending. During one of my lengthy trashy media binges, I stumbled upon #adoptabletrends and of course, I had to click…

In February of 2015 Dallas Pets Alive launched the Adoptable Trends campaign. Because there are so many animals in shelters, most organizations lack the resources and exposure needed to further their cause, so Dallas Pets Alive decided do something different. They sought out the online attention they needed by renaming their shelter dogs after trending news in hopes of increasing their online presence and chances of adoption. This initiative paired with investing in relevant search terms means that you could view pups by the name of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, Miley Cyrus Twerking, Left Shark and Photoshopped Bieber at the very top of your Google search.

Famed marketer Mark Shaffer described digital marketing as “nothing new [BUT, you can] use an old “ingredient” in a new way to create entertaining conversational moments,” and that’s exactly what they did.

This was a creative and unique multi-platform campaign brought to life through their website, various social media and a catchy video. Overall, I feel this campaign was effective through it’s writing because it was clear, concise and compelling. The content related to the emotional right brain audience, both in that it was comical and relatable to present popular culture but also that these adorable abandoned animals were looking for their forever homes…how could this not tug on your heartstrings? This was a magic formula that the Dallas Pets Alive brand used to compel its audience to become engaged with their content. Once hooked, it was through simple and clearly communicated messaging that the audience was able to decipher the main goal of the organization, to eliminate unnecessary animal euthanasia and have their rehabilitated pets adopted. Here are some examples of how Dallas Pets Alive effectively communicated their campaign through these mediums:


The initial Adoption page appeals to the audience’s reptilian brain. At the top of the page, a banner is displayed with a dog and his owner spending loving, quality time together. Then the text below reads real time facts related to homeless and euthanized shelter animals in Dallas. Showing a vast contrast in content, both messages still cause an emotional reaction for its audience, moving them to dig deeper and look for a sense of relief from the discomfort.



That’s where the adoptable trends page comes in!

Dallas Pets Alive added an “Adoptable Trends” section to their general adoption page, which was linked to all of their social media initiatives. It’s a clean page, with lots of visuals of happy dogs and comical headlines. The lists of profiles make the page easy to understand and the information digestible. Once you click on a profile, that’s where you get the cute, and more importantly, happy story of the dog you will eventually adopt…relief found.


Both pages are very intuitive and easily answer visitor’s questions with simplicity of information and images that get them to where they want to go. Both pages also very obviously answer the WHY. Weather that is made evident through the heartbreaking statistics, cute animal pics or Kim Kardahsians Butt, the end goal, or the WHY, is always the same. So WHY do they do what they do? Dallas Pets Alive exists for the purpose of saving shelter animals that are highly adoptable and finding them the loving homes they deserve.

The whole purpose of this campaign as well is to makes use of SEO keywords but in a unique way. These searchable terms don’t necessarily relate to their brand BUT will get lots of traffic and that is what they need.

Facebook & Twitter

For a nonprofit organization with a small budget, social media can help drive a lot of awareness and likeability to the brand. In every social media post, Dallas Pets Alive remained very authentic to their brand by always bringing it back to the adoption of their beloved rescues, no matter what the vehicle the message may have been travelling in. All the Adoptable Trends posts were instantly engaging through the use of popular trending topics but here is how they differed.

The Twitter posts were entertaining, linking many of their trends to the celebrities who spawned them. For example, the adorable puppy below was associated to an anecdote from a very scandalous book called “50 Shades of Grey”. They even took it a step further by tagging the actor in the post (@jamiedornan), who played the main character in the film adaptation of this book. The controversial headlines were a hit and got Twitter followers to take notice. They created a campaign specific hashtag as well (#adoptabletrends) that categorized the content and connected it to its own trending topic. They also made use of other hashtags that directly relate the post to its original trend, in this case they used #50shadesofgrey or #mrgrey.


The Facebook posts revolved more around their audience conversation and storytelling. They called out to their audience to meet each adoptable pet then described their positive qualities. Each post still kept its comedic element but was more conversational and informative; the focus was more on the animal, with the trend simply adding a bit of a twist.


Here are two posts for the same adoptable dog on Facebook and Twitter. In the first three images, Twitter uses tagging to antagonize the celebrities involved and shamelessly and quite hilariously draw attention to the controversy. As you can see, there was so much to say about Kanye, they couldn’t just post once…In the fourth image, Facebook is more laid back, telling the short story of this adorable pooch’s best qualities while casually linking the trending topic. Facebook is more about he conversation and less about the shock value.


A hilarious video was created to go along with the Adoptable Trends campaign and it was a hit! It was posted on their Youtube page, their website and on all the above platforms, showing the adopted dogs with their trending names in real life scenarios. With this video, Dallas Pets Alive tapped into a key audience, Mark Schaffer would call them the Alpha Audience. This is the audience needed to help your content gain shares, likes and overall popularity. As a nonprofit organization, they “recognized the critical importance of social sharing [as a] key to finding brand advocates”. The content was so moving that people just had to talk about it and the video was shared countless times on social media. It “activated [their audience] in a creative way to drive measurable gains – these strategies [were] beyond mere content.” As a result, traffic to the Dallas Pets Alive website “grew by 98% and social engagement went up 112% per post.”



Dallas Pets Alive’s mission is to eliminate the euthanizing of sheltered or abandoned animals by finding happy homes for pets that were passed off by other associations. The Adoptable Trends “increased adoptions year-on-year by 200%” and, as a result, Kim Kardashians Butt now has a new happy and loving home.


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