The top three social media tools for equestrians.
The days of marketing your business solely through the phone book, word of mouth or local newspapers are over. At least they are if you want to attract the new generation of social media savvy equestrians!
The New Equestrian Generation
This new breed of equestrian has grown up with the internet and expects 24/7 access to information, entertainment, shopping and news. They can compare and contrast goods and prices at the click of a mouse and spend hours doing so in search of the hottest item or a bargain, making the internet their first port of call. And let’s not be ageist: 56% of over-70s in the UK have the internet at home, according to National Statistics. With increased media coverage of social networking sites, we are seeing an increase in the number of silver surfers making the most of them.
If you’re not on the web, these potential customers are lost. If you are, the good news is that it has made marketing your business to web-smart equestrians really straightforward, thanks to social networking sites. In the beginning, people thought of these sites as a narcissistic way for those who had too much time on their hands to inform others about the mediocrity of their lives. Not the case! Used intelligently, they can become a key marketing tool.
Anyone Can Do It!
Social media sites, used in parallel with an up-to-date and engaging website, give you the power to reach out directly to new stakeholders and add a whole new personal dimension to organizations. You can also use them to show your business or organization’s allegiances. By responding to events that happen in the equine news arena, you can come out with a reaction or opinion that can enhance your brand position. Social networking sites really work for getting your name and brand out there, and creating a buzz about your business.
Different social networking sites require varying levels of technical knowledge. However, for the most part, you can get a great deal out of them without being a techie whizz-kid. The three I recommend for ease of use, results and level of equestrian use are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Top Three Equestrian Social Media Avenues
1. Facebook has the largest following of any general networking site, and is by far the most user-friendly. By “general networking” we mean sites where people create a profile, add information or photos about themselves, join networks (e.g. schools and clubs), and invite their friends to do the same.
With Facebook, you can add images, videos, testimonials, status updates and links. This is a great form of viral marketing because once someone has joined your business’s group, they can invite their friends to join and share your content with their own networks.
2. Twitter is a stripped-down version of Facebook. It lets users add status updates called “Tweets”, each consisting of no more than 140 characters. As businesses continue to invest in their constantly evolving brand story, conversation enablers like Twitter have become integral. Twitter is not for everyone, but for a targeted niche like equestrian businesses it’s got massive potential!
The majority of equestrian organizations use Twitter to keep people updated on competition dates, new developments and promotions. It’s a really simple format, but do not underestimate its power; it’s one of the fastest growing social networking sites for business-to-business interaction.
3. YouTube lets users view, upload and share video clips and has become a formidable force on the web. YouTube’s bandwidth costs were estimated at approximately $1 million US per day, and that was in 2009. It’s great for video blogging and demos. You can embed YouTube videos into your website, keeping your hosting costs down and enabling cross-marketing – creating your own TV channel.
The whole idea of social networking is to keep your endeavors updated regularly to ensure your followers are kept interested, and to attract new followers. This is where the potential for “buzz” occurs around your brand. It can lead to many people linking to your site and spreading the word – great for your brand and search engine optimization.
You can measure the impact of social media on your site’s traffic by linking your site to Google Analytics. This generates a number of really clever reports letting you know how many times your site has been visited, how they got to your site (directly, via search engines or referrals), how long they stayed on your site, their location, and so on. Make sure you have links from your website to your social networking sites – get the traffic going both ways.
Social networking sites should be exactly that – social – and never a chore. Finding your feet can be quite an enjoyable experience and once you’ve built up your network it will become second nature. Enjoy!
Liam Killen is the director of the PagePlay Equestrian Social Media Awards, set up in 2010 to reward equestrian organizations for enriching the online world for horse lovers everywhere. Nominations for the 2013 ESMAs opened on December 10, with the finalists being announced soon. Find out more at equestriansocialmediaawards.com.