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Blue Cross enlists help of social networks for better pet care

Blue Cross enlists help of social networks for better pet care

A case study from Chat Moderators

All About Pets social network, launched by The Blue Cross pet charity, offers a place for animal lovers to go online to meet like-minded people and share information and advice about their pets.

Safe environment where users can access free advice on pet care and share their own experiences, moderated by Chat Moderators.

The Blue Cross is a registered UK animal charity which aims to ensure the welfare of animals by providing practical care and promoting a sense of respect and responsibility towards animals in the community. It provides support to UK pets and pet owners by treating animals whose owners cannot afford private veterinary treatment, re-homing abandoned or homeless animals and educating the public in responsible animal ownership.

As part of a mission to increase brand awareness and extend its charitable work and educational advice further to a much wider audience, The Blue Cross launched a social networking initiative; All About Pets. The initiative is operated as a separate website community but with links through to The Blue Cross website. It encourages users to post and share information and advice with other pet owners with the main objective being to promote responsible pet care.

Zak Akhimien, website editor of All About Pets explains: “We wanted to set up an open and positive place to celebrate animals and share information, experiences and advice on the nation’s pets. We wanted make people aware of the positive work that The Blue Cross does as a charity, but also to offer something additional to the animal loving community.  We felt the best way to do this was to create a social network where we can engage with users over a longer period, offering a range of useful facilities  and a safe place for them to meet other pet lovers.” (Zak to confirm)

Prior to the launch of the site, The Blue Cross realised that if it was to create a stable and supportive environment for all users to interact, the forum needed close moderation. As a result, Chat Moderators was appointed when the site launched in March 2008.

The Chat Moderators team plays a key role in ensuring that the All About Pets forum operates smoothly and within the policy rules. They moderate the site to ensure that anything of concern is immediately highlighted to The Blue Cross in order for them to act on it swiftly. This could involve a user posting advice that could be potentially dangerous to an animal in which case The Blue Cross would approach its network of vets to seek the best advice. Chat Moderators also ensures that any inappropriate language is taken down as quickly as possible in accordance to the rules of the site.

Chat Moderators moderate the forum every day of the year and up to several hours per day. As an additional service, it also undertakes ‘community management’ services, which involves answering queries and even pro-actively helping people on behalf of The Blue Cross. This can be anything from ensuring that a user’s post is on the correct part of the site where others are able to view it, to directing users to online leaflets from the charity if their problem is quite sophisticated.

Zak explains, “While we are keen to encourage independent debate on All About Pets, we have a responsibility to our members to make sure all communication is clean and safe, particularly when some of them are children. The service we receive from the Chat Moderators team has helped us achieve this and as well as policing the forum, they offer us constructive guidance on how we can improve the site based on patterns and trends they have been noticing.”

The site has been running for ten months to date and in that time it has over 10,000 members, as well as many more guests who visit the site on a daily basis to access the forums and read the advice shared between members. All About Pets continues to grow and develop more features and in the process it is attracting a far wider audience to The Blue Cross, including a pet owner on a remote farm in South Africa who used the forum for emergency advice after his dog had been bitten by a snake. Although The Blue Cross is a UK based charity, it is now able to help pet owners all over the world.

Zak concludes, “We are delighted with the success of All About Pets and look forward to continuing our partnership with Chat Moderators as the site continues to grow and improve. We have been so impressed with the moderation team - they are professional, prompt and efficient; without them we simply wouldn’t have the time or resource to make All About Pets the huge success it is today.”

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