I recently happened across this interesting article about some research by David Markowitz: https://theconversation.com/how-to-write-better-pet-adoption-ads-129291 His study suggested that the most "successful" pet adoption bios are focused on concrete and analytical descriptions, instead of narrative, story-telling descriptions. It is very different than most of the shelter-based advice I've seen!
The actual study is here: https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.12647 Since I don't have access to this publication, I couldn't read the paper, but the abstract and the author's article left me with a lot of questions about the study methods.
Has anyone else seen coverage of this paper? Or read it themselves? I'm curious to hear your thoughts!
Very interesting. I would have thought the exact opposite! We tend to be "soft and fluffy" with our bios and updates on social and our website; on Petfinder, we simply post info about our application process (very analytical) with photos/videos of the dogs.
I read this and had the same reaction @EmmeH! I ended up getting the paper thru my local college database and though it answered some questions I had -- For example, I wondered how they evaluated what was categorized as analytics info vs. what was emotional langauge. Turns out, they used an automated text analysis computer program -- in other ways, it led to more questions. I think my ultimate takeaway is that the research is mainly tied to an analysis of Petfinder profiles specifically, and it does make sense that once someone is searching on an adoption database they've already made the choice to at the very least, research adoption, and therefore wants more analytical info to help them make their decision. The only social media that the study looked at was a collection of tweets from Petfinder, which I don't think is necessarily very representative of how many shelters/rescues use social, and is larger a text-based platform. I suspect that the more emotive, narrative-style is still super effective for social, where the audience is different and the goal is to get people who may have never considered adoption to engage with the idea. It was also super interesting to see that the study supported the idea that good photos are a key component, no matter what (which makes perfect sense to me!)
The study also seems to depend on groups quickly and accurately updating Petfinder records. When an animal is removed from Petfinder, it is not necessarily adopted, and the removal is not always done immediately. The study seems to count on the accuracy and immediacy of Petfinder records, which actually vary widely by organization.
That was definitely something I wondered about! I didn't see any mention about whether the data had actually broken out dogs who were adopted vs. dog's whose profiles were removed after a different outcome, or if "successful" was just based on whether the posting was still up. Some of the examples in the article reminded me of some very basic, copy-and-paste formatting that I think is more likely to be used in high-volume shelters without the resources to create a new bio from scratch for each pet. If a significant number of those pets were transferred out or euthanized instead of being adopted, it could indicate a very different result.
I was surprised that the more analytical descriptions were more effective...which is great b/c I am pretty analytical!
This is such great information. AT OCAC in Tustin, we are the beginning discussions on how under the age of 18 community, can help our shelter pets. Having a group come in a few times a week and sharpen their writing skills using informative effective words when writing the kennel cards is a great easy way to achieve this. Thank you for forwarding this information.