If you visited our adoption profiles page today, you might have noticed a few changes: new larger photos of our hopeful adoptive parents; a simpler, cleaner layout; and improved search and navigational tools.
What’s behind the changes? Hopefully, an even easier way for hopeful adoptive parents and expectant parents considering adoption to connect and get matched.
Of course, when it comes to online adoption networking, we’re not the only game in town.
In fact, if you’re hoping to adopt and on a limited budget, there are many non-adoption places on the web where you can post your profile for free.
The only limitations are your time and your creativity.
Here are 12 of the best social media and internet platforms to help you reach out to expectant parents and build your family through adoption.
The last time I wrote about this pinboard-style photo-sharing site, it was just taking off.
Last March, it had 12 million users. Today? Eighty-three million users.
There’s a reason Pinterest is the fastest growing social media network in history.
But more importantly, 83% of its users are female and most are between the ages of 25-34.
Known mainly for its lifestyle content, Pinterest is more than just a pretty place to post pics of your favorite wedding dress or cupcake.
It’s also great tool to reach out to families with an adoption plan by sharing your own family photos, interests and passions.
If you’re looking for ways to nab more followers and get noticed by prospective birthparents or people who may be in touch with prospective birthparents, infographics and inspirational messages are especially a big hit and a terrific way to get your pins shared by others.
Value-added tip: To help you track your traffic, Pinterest recently announced new web analytics that makes it easier to find out which of your pins are popular and, if you have a website, which ones are driving the most traffic to it. And don’t forget to join our open adoption Pinterest page.
With 700 million users, Facebook is still the undisputed king of social media.
Just about anyone hoping to adopt today has their own page where they share their latest family photos and updates with their fans and friends.
But not all Facebook pages are created equally. As with any social media platform, creating a page is just the beginning.
You still need to update it on a regular basis with interesting content and photos so that people can find you and come back.
And don’t forget to brand it with an adoption-friendly heading like “David and Chris Are Hoping To Adopt” or “Linda and Dave’s Open Adoption Journey” and keep the content family- and child-centered. Leave your late night party photos and political beliefs for your personal page.
Value-added tip: Be sure to encourage users to Like your page. The more likes you have, the higher up you’ll be in their news feed. Don’t forgot to join our open adoption Facebook page.
If you’re into visuals, Pinterest and Facebook are for you. If you’re more of a wordsmith and able to boil down your thoughts into 140-character messages, Twitter is a better fit.
Like Facebook’s new feed, Twitter is an online platform that lets you share and interact with other users in real time. But as with Facebook, if you’re there just to pitch people, don’t waste your time.
Think of Twitter as the ultimate cocktail party where the goal is to engage and entertain people with interesting stories, fun facts, and the latest news.
Letting people know that you’re adopting is okay. But if that’s all you talk about, that’s a problem.
Instead of asking users to follow you, give them a reason to follow you. One way to get found and to get on other users’ good side is to be resourceful and to share their tweets and your comment on their messages.
Value-added tip: To help expectant parents find your faster, use hashtags with keyword-rich words and phrases like “#openadoption” “#adoptionprofile” and “#hopingtoadopt” and include a good quality photo of yourself, short description about your hopes to adopt, and a link to your website. And don’t forget to join our open adoption Twitter page.
Craigslist? Yes, that Craigslist. The online marketplace best known for helping you find an apartment or a used couch for sale may not be the first place you think of when it comes to adoption networking.
But don’t laugh: it has led to its share of open adoption matches.
Although a bit more garish and old school than some of the other outreach tools listed here, it does have a distinguished pedigree (created in 1999) and impressive numbers to match (at last count users post upwards of 100 million classified ads each month).
When composing your ad, keep the headline and content as simple and as tasteful as positive.
For instance, “Loving Atlanta, Georgia couple hoping to adopt” along with a short description about you and a link to your website. After all, if you do find a match, one day your child will want to know how it came about.
Be sure you won’t be ashamed about what to tell him.
Value-added tip: To increase your chances of being found by expectant parents, update your ad on a regular basis so it stays at the top of the listing. Also, place it the community section since geographical proximity is an important factor in most open adoption matches.
If you’re a little more adventurous and looking for a place you can call your own, a Weebly website will do the trick.
Once voted one of the TIME’s best websites, Weebly features a simply drag and drop interface that lets you create an online presence quickly and easily.
To date, more than 12 million people and businesses use it to share their photos and videos.
Weebly also lets you use your own domain name, if you’ve got one, and provides free hosting.
With hundreds of the themes to choose from, you’re bound to find a design that captures your personality and lets you cast your net far and wide on the web.
Value-added tip: Just because you’ve built a website doesn’t mean that you don’t need to bother with social sharing tools. Think of your Weebly site as the hub or home base for all of your marketing efforts, and use your social media channels as outposts to spread your message to expectant parents.
WordPress is another platform where you can take your adoption networking into your own hands and increase your online visibility without too much effort.
Creating a blog or website on Wordpess requires a bit more heavy lifting than joining a social networking site, but if done right you’ll find that the extra effort is well worth it.
Just like Weebly, WordPress is easy to use. And as an open source tool, you can use it to tap into hundreds of different plug-ins — from slide shows to analytics — to enhance the look and functionality of your site.
Value-added tip: In addition to focusing on creating good content, make sure your “About Us” page contains useful information and photos about you and your reason for adopting, along with a call to action and contact information on how to reach you.
This photo-sharing app just celebrated its first anniversary on Android and at last count has 100 million users.
Instagram is similar to Twitter in a lot of ways, with one big difference: while Twitter allows you to share your story in words, with Instagram you do it with photos.
If you’re looking for a platform that will let you have some fun and express your creativity, Instagram is your social network.
Through its retro filters and ability to create eye-catching dramatic effects, Instagram lets you show a side of yourself that you won’t find anywhere else.
Value-added tip: Due to the limit in the number characters you can use in a message, many Instagram users use hashtags to get their message out. But overusing them can be a turn-off. If you’re looking to target users and make it easier for expectant parents to find you, make use of its geo-tagging feature instead.
Not many people think of Quora when networking online. Which is a pity and one more reason why you should.
After all, one of the reasons you’re on the web is to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by expectant parents and their friends and families. This is the perfect place to do it.
Quora is a community site where people ask questions and find answers. Initially popular with the tech set, lately it’s been successful in crossing over to other audiences.
If you’re looking for a forum to show off your skills and share your talents, Quora will let you do it and perhaps even put you in touch with the family you’re looking for.
Value-added tip: If you have a blog and are looking for interesting topics to write about, Quora will give you more ideas and inspiration that you know what to do with. Leveraging the site will not only help you create buzz-worthy content, it will increase your chances of getting found on search engines like Google.
Speaking of Google, Google+ is Google’s social network, its answer to Facebook. OK, so it still lags far behind — it’s not the virual ghost town it was once.
In fact, recently it passed Twitter and YouTube to become the world’s second largest social network. And unlike Facebook, its growth shows no signs of slowing down.
In fact, for many users who are annoyed by Facebook’s constant notifications, privacy concerns and ever increasing ads,
Google+ is quickly becoming a viable alternative — and unlike Facebook, where the connections are still organized around your friends, it’s a chance to meet new people.
Value-added tip: Because of Google+ integration with Google, having a profile can help you optimize your site and help you climb up the search engine’s rankings.
Discussion forums have been around since the beginning of the Net. All these years later their role hasn’t changed.
They’re still a fun, friendly, welcoming place to ask questions, find answers and build community. Spamming is still frowned upon — that hasn’t changed either.
If you want to get kicked off a forum, there’s no easier way to do it than to ask everyone if they “know a birthparent who’s giving up her baby for adoption.”
But there are ways to get the word out about your adoption journey without getting in everyone’s face. The key is to be yourself and to be helpful.
Value-added tip: Many discussion forums will allow you to include your signature with a link to your website. So, if you’re looking for a seamless way to drive expectant parents or others back to your site without getting banned for life, that’s an easy way to d it.
Creating a blog and keep up with it can be a slog. Not only do you have figure out the coding and the content management system, you have to keep feeding it fresh content to attract readers.
But guest blogging — that’s a lot less complicated. There are tons of websites out there, including ours, that are always on the lookout for unique and interesting open adoption stories to share with their readers.
So if you’re looking to get your message out there directly to expectant parents but don’t have the time or interest in keeping your blog up to date, guest blogging is another easy way to generate interest and send expectant parents back to your site.
Value-added tip: To optimize your presence on Google and to make sure that the right people find you, choose an blog that specializes in open adoption and is read by expectant parents. To gain even more attention, make sure it knows how to optimize your content for search engines.
You may not know it but many experts consider email the first and largest social network. Email helps you connect, solve problems, and get answers.
And thanks to email signatures, it also allows you to create our own profile — or to drive users to your other social networking profiles.
Today it’s rare for me to receive an email from a hopeful parent without a link to their adoption website at the bottom of their message, along with a sentence or two along the lines of : “Do you know that Ken and Susan are adopting?” or “If you know of a pregnant woman with an adoption plan, please share our profile with them.”
Value-added tip: Spam is spam, whether it’s through email or Facebook or Twitter. As always, make sure that your message and marketing tactics are relevant and have value.
There are no shortages of free places online where you can reach out and spread your message to expectant parents considering adoption free of charge.
Each platform has its own protocol and policies, so make sure you’re familiar with them before you jump in. And to reduce your risk of getting scammed, keep your adoption professionals in the loop when the responses start trickling in.
What platforms on the web have you used to reach out to expectant parents considering adoption? What online tools have worked for you?
Looking to increase your chances to connect with expectant parents considering adoption? Explore our plans.