Helping our fellow man is important, as is helping fellow animals among us. With the idea in mind to help pets in shelters gain visibility, care, and loving homes, and to get the public involved with local shelters, Steven Latham and Ady Gil founded Los Angeles-based ShelterMe in 2011. ShelterMe is a social network, dedicated to helping shelter animals get adopted. Through their website anyone can create profiles of shelter pets by uploading photos, videos, and detailed descriptions of individual animals.
Currently, the company is focused on raising awareness of Los Angeles City and County shelter pets, but will be expanding into other areas. Their business evolved into several platforms. Originally, they started with and produced a national PBS television series called “Shelter Me,” which celebrates shelter pets by telling positive stories.
Though the television series had a strong following, the co-founders recognized that after watching the show, the viewers were inspired, but left with no place to take action. This spurred them to create their website. “We wanted to make sure we gave tools to the public so they can get involved,” said Latham. Expressing the evolution of their website — which focuses on uplifting messages about the pets and positivity, he continued, “I think change comes from inspiration, not desperation.”
Need for a Mobile Strategy
As the ShelterMe website grew in its following, Latham realized that many of their supporters were accessing the ShelterMe website through their mobile phones. “We didn’t have a significant mobile strategy. So many people were accessing the site through phones, and I thought: We’re not communicating out to them. How do we market the pets and get them in front of people?”
Deliver Messages Right To People’s Pockets
Because they wanted to be more active in sending their community messages about pets, ShelterMe employed TextMarks to begin to send group text messages out to their followers. Anyone can simply text the word “Pets” to 41411 and they will begin to receive texted profiles of Los Angeles shelter pets. Latham sends out one pet profile (or “Pet of the Day”) each day.
“A huge part of websites and the Internet in general is discovery, and this helps people to discover our pets,” he said. “This allows us to send those messages right into people’s pockets. And it allows us to make the animals personal. These are no longer numbers. This is Baxter. This is Fluffy.” The Pet of the Day profiles also contain information about which shelter the pet is at and where the shelter is located.
Text Messages Generate Big Response
Latham says he has had great results with TextMarks — getting many emails and texts back from people in response to his pet profile texts. As for what’s next, ShelterMe will be doing a larger marketing push for their texting service in conjunction with Urth Caffe in Los Angeles, where they will be putting up table tents and information throughout the restaurants explaining how anyone can text “Pets” to 41411 and start getting amazing pet profiles once a day.