By Alyssa Marchese, volunteer writer 

While there are a multitude of social media platforms available today, TikTok is the newest to take center stage. For those who are unfamiliar with the app, TikTok is a place for individuals, businesses, and organizations to create short videos about anything and everything. The Dumb Friends League counts itself among the millions of accounts on the app. To learn more about the League’s TikTok presence, I spoke with Emily Niemeier, the League’s Animal Marketing Coordinator.

Because TikTok consists of a wide variety of users and serves many different purposes, I asked Emily how the League uses TikTok specifically. “We started TikTok to help promote adoption in general, not necessarily just for our shelter,” Emily said. “Since shelters are widely viewed as sad, dark places that resemble jail cells, we wanted people to see shelters as bright, open, and safe spaces for animals. Because of this, in the League’s TikToks, I focus on the animals and breaking the stereotype of what … a shelter is.” When asked about the process of making TikToks, Emily noted she usually captures spur-of-the-moment interactions with the shelter’s animals as they exhibit cute and endearing behaviors. 

One key factor which increases the likelihood of a TikTok being seen by more viewers is using trending “sounds” for the video’s background audio. “Sounds” can be anything, including snippets of films or TV shows, popular songs, or even sounds from other TikToks that have gone viral. Since this is such an integral part of making a successful TikTok, Emily stays on top of what is trending to give the League’s TikToks a higher chance of being seen by viewers.

Although Emily captures a variety of lighthearted moments in her TikTok videos, some of the most impactful are those that feature the League’s “longest stay animals.” These normally begin with a recap of the animal’s story, show how far they’ve come, and end with a shot of the animal going home with their adoptive family. Two of the most popular and heartwarming videos of this kind highlight Andy, who was adopted in November 2021, and Karma , who was adopted in June 2022.

The League’s TikTok platform has also been a great way to connect with other shelters across the country. For instance, the League has participated in “TikTok Challenges,” such as the “Drop It Challenge,” with the Hawaiian Humane Society, Foothills Animal Shelter, and Nashville Humane Society. Emily plans to connect with even more shelters on TikTok in the future. 

The League is one of thousands of shelters on TikTok, and it’s important that we stand out and continue to grow our following. To accomplish this, Emily strives to make TikToks that give each featured animal a unique voice, rather than simply making videos promoting adoptable pets. Once again, this is where “sounds” come in handy as they provide additional context to illustrate an animal’s situation or story — making it something that anyone can relate to. Additionally, Emily hopes to make more TikToks featuring animals with behavioral challenges; perhaps a meaningful or even silly sound in a TikTok might be enough to encourage a potential adopter to take a second look. Giving the animals this voice is Emily’s favorite part about making TikToks. 

Keep up with animals available for adoption, enjoy adoption updates, and get your daily dose of animal cuteness by following the League’s TikTok at @dumbfriendsleague!