Stop Preaching to the Choir – Blog the Change for Animals

Blog the Change for AnimalsThe internet is touted for its ability to segment people into smaller and smaller niches. We’re in one right now.

It’s great to find a supportive community. But it means that important messages don’t always get to a broader public. We spend a lot of time preaching to the choir.

Evangelizing for animals

Jehovah’s Witnesses go door to door. Christian Scientists open reading rooms. Evangelical Christians pay for Super Bowl ads. And conservatives get their own talk radio shows.

How do animal welfare advocates get their messages across?

The adoption of the Shelter Pet Project by the Ad Council is one way. And hopefully it will change a lot of hearts on the issue of adopting shelter pets.

But we’re going to read about many amazing causes during the Blog the Change events. And none of us can afford to run expensive television ad campaigns.

So how can we take some of these great causes and get them out to a wider audience? An audience who doesn’t know that dogs sold in pet shops come from puppy mills or that pit bull type dogs can make wonderful family companions.

Tools for the animal evangelist – just a taste 

Many of the things you do every day in social media and blogging can help you get your message to a wider audience. Here are just a few tools for you to use:

Yahoo Answers

At Yahoo Answers, people seek answers from the only experts they know—people who know how to get a free internet mail account.

Ok, that was snarky. I’m sorry.

Yahoo Answers does attract people who are experts in their fields who give thoughtful answers. You could be that person.

Type a search phrase in to find questions people have asked on a particular topic. Don’t forget to filter it (left sidebar) to get only recently asked questions.

If you don’t believe this could have a big impact, try a search for “dominate dog” and see what comes up. Despite some of the wacky answers you’ll find to questions, thoughtful and intelligent answers do have a tendency to rise to the top with lots of votes for “best answer.”

But there has to be a thoughtful and intelligent answer there to begin with. Will it be yours?

Google Alerts

Monitor new information on the internet with the help of Google Alerts. Pick your search terms and your format (news, blogs, videos, discussions etc.) and how often you want to get links in your mailbox.

The amount of information can be overwhelming so I’ve set my alerts to come once a week.

But if you want to know when people are posting information about the cause close to your heart, Google Alerts is the way to do it.

Now you just need to figure out your response.


Squidoo is a publishing platform. So if you’re already feeling overwhelmed by blogging, it might not be for you. Or you could replace your blog with it.

A published page on Squidoo is called a “lens.” And you can write a lens about anything you want. I had fun creating my first lens, Building a Strong Bond with Your Dog. On today’s home page, I also saw lenses about keeping chickens as pets, easy filled cupcakes, and how to wash your hands.

And Squidoo now has a link button to Pinterest.

Squidoo is a good platform for animal evangelists:

  • It’s a very general gathering so you find a wide range of people.
  • The entire site is based on principles of random, positive reinforcement. To keep you coming back, commenting, and improving your lens, Squidoo offers points, trophies and privileges at random. I was very impressed by how effectively the “clicks” worked at training me in Squidoo.

You can also make money on Squidoo and have it automatically donated to your favorite cause. Two great animal advocacy lenses doing just that are Everything Elephant: The Facts, the Beauty, the Heartache and Are You Polar Bear Aware?

The benefits of preaching to the choir

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to keep preaching to the choir either. You’ll find many benefits to sharing your ideas with a sympathetic audience:

  • Your commitment strengthens with extra support.
  • Others will challenge you to put your words into action.
  • When you mess up, you’ll have forgiving friends.

Not everyone feels comfortable handing a pamphlet to strangers walking into a Cesar Millan talk at a large arena.

So use your words the way you use them now. But get them to a wider audience.

Do you consciously reach outside your regular community to educate people about important causes? If so, how? 

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  1. Great point! I’m trying to spread my wings by finding new ways to “cast a wider net”, but it certainly is challenging. I’ll be interested to see comments here.

    • I often find the comments are superior to the original post. :)

      I’ve already seen suggestions about Pinterest and RumpyDog suggested commenting on non-animal blogs so the curious will come back and see our advocacy posts.

  2. Great post Pamela, there are so many social media sites popping up (I hear of something new at least once a month) it is great to highlight the lesser known ones.

    BTW, thanks for reminding me, I had published my post and realized after reading yours, that I forgot to link up to the hop. :-)

    • Thanks, Jodi. Of course we have to pick and choose our social media or we’ll go insane chasing every new thing.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve posted without remembering the linky or to credit a photo. Thank goodness WP allows us to update.

      I wish someone would develop a “dummy check” plugin: did you remember to credit your picture, include the linky, create tags? that would come up when we try to post. :)

  3. You make an excellent point. Although I’m already feeling overwhelmed by my work load, my blog, and all the social media I’m involved in now, it is possible–and worthwhile–to work this into my schedule in some way. The one that appeals to me most is google alerts. I already use google alerts, so I won’t need to learn something new. (a bonus!) And your suggestion on using it in a new (for me) way is great. I love the way you are challenging us today Pamela.
    Peggy’s Pet Place

    • Thanks, Peggy. If we can tweak something we’re already doing it’s easier than doing something entirely new. Perhaps we can all try to advocate for animals in one way each week. That shouldn’t take too long.

  4. Thanks for mentioning the Shelter Pet Project, not only because of the project’s excellence but because you inspired me to finish my series and enter it into this blog hop!

    You’ve got great ideas here. I’m not good at going outside my comfort zone with things like picketing but I don’t have a problem countering the common “wisdom” if I engage people in friendly conversation. Of course I once got into a shouting match with a friend that I walk with about Cesar Millan — to the point that her dog peed in fear! Even talking about Cesar is harmful to dogs’ health. 😉

    • Glad you were inspired to finish up the Shelter Pet Project. I’ll hop over to check it out later today.

      I got a giggle from your story about your CM “discussion.” I hope it wasn’t an example of one of those “friendly conversations” you referred to. I’d hate to think every casual discussion resulted in someone peeing. :)

  5. Great post for today, with some ideas that I didn’t know about–Google Alerts and Squidoo. I have posted answers on Yahoo before, but have let that slip as of late. It’s a free and easy and helpful thing to do and yes, casts a wider net…I’m on it!

    • It’s great that you’ve answered questions on Yahoo Answers. So much of it is the blind leading the blind.

      If I posted a kitty question and saw your answer in my inbox, I’d be thrilled! :)

      Squidoo takes a bit of work. But Google Alerts is just a way of getting information and you can use it to get ideas for posts as well as finding discussions to jump into.

  6. Thanks for the thoughtful post Pamela! It’s funny because I was thinking about this subject this morning. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little world of friends/followers and forget to reach out to the larger online community and (OMG) the real world. Like Peggy, I think “Do I really have time to add one more thing to my schedule?” So I guess it’s a matter of looking at what I currently do and don’t do and asking myself “Is this the most effective use of my time?”

    • Thanks, Vicki.

      I also have to be careful about “all or nothing” thinking. Yes, it would be great to monitor every dog question that comes up on Yahoo. But I’d neglect my own dog in the meantime. But if each of us occasionally pitches in, we’ll spread some important ideas.

      You don’t have to do everything. And you don’t have to do it alone.

      Have you noticed lately that when pit bull stories come up in the news the comments are increasingly dominated by people defending their wonderful character. Change is coming and we’re just adding to the drops in the bucket.

  7. I love your subject today! There are so many ways we can spread the word, and it’s too easy to fall into a comfortable rut. I’d like to add, blogs themselves can be great for getting a message out – we bloggers just have to keep in mind that our audience should not be limited to fellow bloggers (the choir).

    • Great point about reaching out to others through our blogs. Using humor and pictures can be a great way to get other people to visit who aren’t themselves blogging. Especially if we promote our stuff in other social media sites like StumbleUpon and Facebook.

      Who’d have thought such “time wasters” could become a force for animal welfare? :)

  8. Pamela, you have no idea how good your timing is. After reading the post on No Dog About It that dispels the myths of adoption, I asked Mel, the author, “How do we get that one shared beyond the Blog the Change crowd? Gotta work on that today.”

    And here we have it. Thank you for pointing out some fabulous tools. That’s twice I’ve seen you mention Squidoo (from PBC too) so I think it’s going to stick this time. I signed up last year but it got away from me. Have to rectify that now!

    Thanks for Blogging the Change!

    • You’re so right that Mel’s post needs to hit a wider audience. I’ve just made a note to post it to StumbleUpon when I get over there.

      Squidoo can be as time consuming as blogging. But it’s a helpful and supportive community and I’ve enjoyed my initial exposure. I have two more lenses I’m working on. Let me know if you get something life so I can “squid like” it. :)

      And it certainly hits a different audience.

  9. Wonderful post – thanks so much for the helpful links and the great info. Like Vicki & Pamela, I gulp and think “eeek! do I have the time?” But it’s so worthwhile to reach out to those who truly don’t know. I think I’ll look into squidoo, since pinterest is such the hot thing now.

    And thanks for stopping by our blog, too!

    • Squidoo is probably the most time consuming of my three suggestions. But you might be able to tweak something you’re already doing without taking too much time away from your already busy schedule.

  10. I’m going to start reading this blog just for the funny names: Mr. Chewy, Squidoo….

    I hope I can work up the energy to look at Squidoo. Sounds like an interesting platform.

    • If you like funny words, you’ll probably love Squidoo. Every work you type as a spam catcher is made up and has something to do with squid. It’s cute and clever.

      Squidoo was founded by marketing god Seth Godin. It is very time consuming but it works well and is very stable. If you haven’t read Seth Godin’s stuff, he preaches the virtues of getting people’s permission to send info, building community, and making things easy. Squidoo does all three.

      Even if you never write a lens, Squidoo is a fun place to lurk.

  11. You’re so right, Pamela. It can be difficult and time-consuming to “cast a wider net” but the rewards are tremendous and when more people hear our message, it’s the animals that benefit.

    You’ve included some great ideas here. I especially like the Google alerts idea. Pinterest is a fun and appealing way to communicate with others and seems to attract people with a wide variety of interests. I haven’t done much with Squidoo but know some folks that have had great success with it.

    Great post! Thank you for sharing these ideas.

    • There are certainly no end of ways to do marketing. I don’t think we all need to adopt every platform. But most of us usually find one or two that feel a good fit.

      And you’re right. The rewards are tremendous.

  12. Awesome post, Pamela. It’s the ‘preaching to the converted’ aspect of this type of Blog Hop that has me wondering if it’s worth the effort. Plus I didn’t realise it’s that time of year again and I know I’m not going to have time to write a post now:( But with your suggestions of ways to preach to the unconverted I have some things I can work on at another time.

    You don’t seem to ever run out of a different perspective to the obvious:)

    • Thanks, Sue, for your kinds words. But I learn things in this blog hop so I find it worthwhile to participate. And it keeps me encouraged to be part of the effort.

      Luckily when we’re in a community, we don’t all have to do every thing, every single time.

      This is your day to look at Beryl and say to yourself, “This is my day to give lovies to a rescued Greyhound.” That and your work with GAP do so much good already. :)

  13. Great post today! I think a lot of people give up on “preaching” because they think nobody else out there needs to be converted. I don’t know that I’ve done a lot of preaching lately, but you’ve shared some ideas for reaching people that I hadn’t thought of.

    • My idea was just to provide a taste. But maybe this should be my regular contribution to BTC4A. I’m not expert in animal welfare and have so much to learn from others here.

      Maybe I should consider using my “weird thinking” to focus on ways to get the messages to new audiences.

      You’ve give me an idea. Thank you.

  14. I love the subject! I think that’s why I was so drawn to the Timmy Stones project that I wrote about today. It has fund a fun and interesting way to draw people in from outside the inner circle. I started pinning my recipe posts on Pintrest a few days ago and I am amazd how quickly a pin spreads. Great idea to use it to spread blog the change as well. I add a few pictures of Timmy Stones and we’ll see if they get repinned!

    • I hope you’ll update us on how posting the Timmy Stones project worked out on Pinterest. I’m seeing lots of people using it. It looks like StumbleUpon for girls. :)

  15. One way I reach out to others is to read the blogs of people who don’t blog about animal topics. Most will return the favor and visit my blog. I have met some wonderful people who also love animals and some have even posted on their own blogs about their beloved animals afterward.

    • I think that’s a great idea. I also like to read blogs on a variety of topics. But I don’t usually post links back to Something Wagging unless it’s an animal related blog.

      But just because someone isn’t writing about animals doesn’t mean they don’t like them or aren’t interested.

      You are very clever!

  16. Really great post – it does feel a bit like preaching to the choir most of the time, and I think it’s fantastic that you’ve offered some options to spread this information to others. I’m going to check out Squidoo as well.

    • I think of you every time I open Squidoo. There’s always a beautiful cupcake post featured on the main page.

      I think it would be a good home for I Still Want More Cupcakes and easier to manage than a regular blog.

      Just a thought…

      • I’ll have to explore that option – thanks! I’ve been fairly lazy with the cupcake blog lately – posting every day for a month on the main blog hasn’t helped with that! I need to get back on track with the baking. I have some recipes/photos ready to go, but just haven’t put the posts together. I think I need to give myself a posting goal (not daily, but at least somewhat regularly). However, maybe Squidoo would be a better fit. :)

  17. Thank you for all of these great suggestions. Lately I have been feeling like I am wasting my time when it comes to my sorry attempts to spread awareness. Preaching to the choir is an understatement. But you have given me some new motivation. It’s not easy for me to walk up to strangers in person but I think I could definitely do this online.

    Great post!

  18. Great post Pamela! I think we often preach to the choir as well. I like the idea of using Yahoo answers and Squidoo to help get the message beyond our current group of animal lovers. I don’t know if I can commit the time to do something like this right now (I’m on a new mission to un-complicate my life and to stop overcommitting to things), but if I had the time I would so do it. I love this idea so much. What a unique and new look at getting the message out about puppy mills, pet stores, animal welfare, factory farms, etc. Thanks for participating in Blog the Change!


    BTW – Sometimes I find out that one of my posts about puppy mills gets to someone who isn’t in the choir (it happened just recently) and as a result that person adopts a rescue dog instead of buying another dog from a pet store (where they had gotten their previous dogs). There is nothing more rewarding.


  1. […] of Blog the Change is other bloggers who write on a regular basis, I may even just be ineffectually preaching to the choir […]

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