Category Archives: Technology

52 Fridays 2012 – #7 Do You Know What Google Is Doing With Your Online Horsebiz History?

52 Fridays is an ongoing series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations stories, ideas, tips, and resources shared here each Friday.

On March 1st, Google changed their online privacy policy, consolidating the data collected via their various products (60 of ’em!) into a ‘profile’ they report will allow more customized search engine results.

Some say it’s a way for marketers to get their product or service in front of a consumer through highly targeted online ads; others call this move by Google a massive privacy invasion. There are ways to minimize the data collected, but thus far Google’s not given users a way to opt out entirely. Is this legal? That’s still being debated.

If you have a Google account, use Gmail/YouTube/Google+/Picasa/Google Maps, search the Internet using Google, or have an Android phone that requires a Google account and login, here’s what you should know about the data being collected regarding you and your horsebiz.

Click here to read more about Google’s new policy….

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Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, horsebiz, New Media, Technology, Video

Monday Morning Quick Tip – Using Social Media For Your Horsebiz? It’s Awards Time!

The horse world is getting used to the idea of embracing technology and social media for marketing purposes. Every week I hear from someone new that’s just started their Facebook page, has launched their own Twitter account, or is considering starting a blog. It’s all good.

A few weeks ago at my equestrian expo presentation on social media, I had attendees who were new to social media and some that had gotten started but wanted to improve; one trio included a couple who were the business owners, plus their newly hired assistant who was going to develop their horsebiz social media. All of social media, and how best to use it to achieve your own unique goals, has a learning curve; one way to learn about best practices includes looking at who the ‘movers and shakers’ are when it comes to horsebiz social media, and the Equestrian Social Media Awards provides a perfect opportunity to do it!

Click here to read more about 2012 ESMAs….

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Filed under Awards, Equine Industry Marketing, Facebook, horsebiz, Monday Morning Quick Tip, New Media, Technology, Twitter, Uncategorized

52 Fridays – #11 To See Where You’re Going, Map Out Your Website Architecture

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.

Did you know that approximately 65% of the population are visually-oriented? Or, according to research by 3M Corporation, that the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text? When trying to either outline your website structure (called ‘sitemapping‘), or convey that structure from your mind to that of your web designer (oh, if only telepathy were practical!), visuals can provide the roadmap to help you arrive smoothly at your destination.

Let’s say you’re getting ready to design, or redesign, your website; you’ve pulled out your ‘good websites’ file, got yourself settled into a comfy chair with a beverage close at hand, and you’ve got ideas swirling in your head about the kind of information and images you want to put onto your site. This is the point where I’ve found it’s helpful to get out a large newsprint or flipchart pad, plus some colored markers, and let the ‘inner grade-schooler’ take over….

I’m going to say right now – there’s no ‘one’ right way to do this. Do what makes sense for yourself, try a few different approaches. It’s only paper, right? Here are a few options to get you started:

  • Like columns? Write your categories (About & Contact, plus all the topics specific to your enterprise) across one side and start your lists.
  • Prefer circles? That’s OK, too. Use big circles to hold the category titles and all your content and image ideas for each one. If you like circles, you can even use a Venn diagram to map out the relationships (and resulting links) between various categories.
  • Remember flowcharts? I like them as a way to ‘drill down’ into various categories and show how pages can be connected.

If you’d prefer making your sitemap via an online tool, or want to take your freeform diagram and put it into a format to share with others, here are some sites that can help:

  • SlickPlan.com allows you to easily create flowcharts and sitemaps to help organize and communicate a project’s details. It was developed specifically for website designers and developers, but their site says it’s for anyone wanting a quick and professional-looking sitemap for their project. Under the FAQs there are some brief video clips showing how easy it is to generate a PDF of your sitemap, or HTML code or an HTML link for sharing with others (slick!).
  • WriteMaps.com has options to create sitemaps or flowcharts, plus export and share either your sitemap-in-progress or your finished product. Click on the View the Tour tab for a step-by-step diagram on how to use it.

Both of these sites require accounts & logins, but they’re free and supported by donations, so why not give them a try? Each has the ability to save as many versions of your sitemap as you like, so you can track changes as you go, and always return to an earlier version if you get off-track. Ultimately, a well-organized sitemap will help your web design process flow more smoothly, and might reduce your overall web designer expenses since you’ll already have things mapped out.

Have these website ideas and resources given you food for thought? Are you considering a new website, or plotting to redesign your current one? Let us know what you valued about the website ideas in 52 Fridays #5 through #11 by clicking on the Leave A Comment link below. This week is the last in the ‘website’ portion of the series, so see you here next Friday for a brand new topic category and 52 Fridays #12! 

You can read all the 52 Fridays posts by clicking the Sort Posts By Topic dropdown menu and selecting 52 Fridays.

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Monday Morning Quickie – Twitter Turns Five, Founder Tweets Story

Happy Birthday, Twitter!

Image via ZDNet.com

The 140-character ‘microblog’ that many love to hate, and make fun of, turns five this year, from the ‘first tweet’ on March 21, 2006, to the public launch in July of that year.

In recognition of the 5th anniversary, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s tweeting the origins of Twitter over a several-week period; you can follow him via @jack, and use the hashtag #5yrs to share your own favorite tweets from Twitter’s first half-decade.

Twitter has become much more than online ‘watercooler’ chit-chat; it’s transforming communication in many ways, such as how we connect with each other, and how we are exposed to, and participate in, breaking news events; here’s a great article from ZDNet.com about the mobilization of breaking news.

Despite trepidation by some, the equine community on Twitter is growing by the day as more people sign up and begin to integrate their Twitter accounts with Facebook, other social media, and for horsebiz accounts, their traditional marketing methods.

Last week I was asked to give a presentation on Twitter at a meeting in Lexington; with the five year anniversary upon us, I thought it made sense to take a look back to see how we got to this place via the Twitter Timeline below; today’s the perfect day to share it with you, on the 5th anniversary of the first tweet.

Twitter Timeline:

2007 – SXSW festival – created a ‘tipping point’ with many influential buzz-makers

  • Large screens streaming tweets exclusively
  • Attendees kept in touch via tweets
  • During event, tweets increased from 20k per day to 60k per day
  • Twitter received SXSW Web Award that year

2008

  • From Feb 2008 to Feb 2009, Twitter had 1,382% growth (475,000 visitors to 7 million) – Facebook had a 228% increase during that same time
  • Nielsen organization ranked Twitter as fastest growing site in Member Communities category in March 2009

2009

  • Trending Topics sidebar and Search bar added
  • Twitter ‘Lists’ feature added
  • Verified Accounts added – confirms that celebrities are authentic
  • Changed the Twitter questions from ‘What are you doing?’ to ‘What’s happening?’
  • Twitter servers crashed when Michael Jackson died – over 100k tweets per hour had the words ‘Michael Jackson’ in them

2010

  • 3rd party Twitter applications and services have a seamless interface through OAuth which confirms, so logins are no longer necessary – only clicking one ‘permission’ button when access is requested
  • ‘New Twitter’ revamped version rolled out in Fall of 2010
  • Entertainment Weekly put Twitter on its ‘end of the decade’ Best Of list

2010 TIME magazine

  • Included Twitter in its formula for determining their 100 Most Influential People list in 2010
  • The formula was:   (Twitter followers) x 2 + (facebook connections) divided by 2

2011 Twitter use

  • Usage spikes during & following news events, such as the Egyptian & Middle East revolutions
    • News of events often breaks first on Twitter before it hits mainstream media
  • Charlie Sheen signed up for a Twitter account, and within a week he had 2 MILLION followers, a new record

Please note, much of the information in the Twitter Timeline summary is from Wikipedia’s ‘Twitter’ page; if you’re interested in reading up on Twitter, I recommend it!

I personally fell in love with Twitter from the moment I signed up (which was March 24, 2009). I love the immediate connection I can have with like-minded people, the cross-boundaries connections, and the ability to share interests and resources. I encourage you to give it a try.

Want to see the very first tweet? This article from The Atlantic shows Jack Dorsey’s first message to coworkers.

Love Twitter? Hate it? Let me know what you think via the Leave a Comment link below.

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Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, Monday Morning Quickie, New Media, Technology, Twitter, Uncategorized

Equine Economics – It’s Not All Bad

Last night Lizzy McMillan from EquestrianProfessional.com hosted a webinar called Rethinking The Horse Business 2010 – Succeeding In A Changed World. I would say that I agree with everything she presented, and that it’s well worth your time to seek out this webinar for a listen.

What’s great about the information in the webinar is that McMillan can back up opinions with data; Equestrian Professional did a survey of about 400 equestrian pros, on various aspects of running equine businesses today, everything from profitability to how your services have changed and what’s bringing in the revenue today. Having that kind of information is crucial to developing a sound marketing program, and keeping your existing clients as well as reaching out to new ones; it’s also helpful to learn from the experiences of other equine businesses.

As for the equine economy, back in late 2008 I wrote an article titled Stock Horse Economics for The Equine Chronicle. While this was at the height of the recession, the news wasn’t all bad then, and it’s not all bad now.

A changing world and changing economy requires that we make adjustments, and at that time the leaders in all the major stock horse associations (AQHA, APHA, ApHC) shared how their groups were retooling to move into the future. Many things are in our favor today, such as the declining cost of marketing tools via the Internet, and the wider audiences gained through equestrian programming televised on the Internet, and both public and cable television; McMillan pointed out that many equine events today are actually exceeding their prior attendance and participation numbers. We can’t expect to operate as we did in the 1990s and early 2000s, but there are many, many opportunities today for the savvy horse business professional.

In terms of greater opportunities for expanded media coverage due to the declining costs of technology, McMillan mentioned how a TV show that once cost $100k could now be produced for $5k, and pointed out the expanded equine sport programming on HRTV.com (Horse Racing Television), which was launched earlier this year, as an example of more widespread media coverage of equestrian sport.

In May 2010, just prior to the HRTV launch of expanded equestrian programming, I spoke with Jim Bates, HRTV’s executive vice president and general manager; his answers show insights into how an established equine business like HRTV.com can identify new opportunities and new revenue streams.

I believe the Rethinking The Horse Business 2010 webinar will be archived at the Equestrian Professional site, possibly free access for a while and certainly accessible to members. I recommend that every horse professional serious about moving into the future successfully give it a listen.

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Filed under 2010 Articles, Articles, Equine Industry Marketing, New Media, Technology, Uncategorized

No Need To Travel To Equine Events, With Online Simulcasts

Later this afternoon, the grand opening ceremony of the new Al-Marah Arabian Galleries at the Kentucky Horse Park will be broadcast live, during the 2010 Egyptian Event. Amazing that no matter where you are in the world, you’ll be able to view it via the Internet. In the future, will there be any need to even travel to equine events?

The answer is, yes, of course there will be. Horse people love to be around horses, and no matter how great the video and audio on a simulcast, nor how big your computer monitor, the Web will never replace being in the presence of horses.

That said, this is a cool use of technology. I wouldn’t drive the 8 or so hours from Chicago to attend the opening in Kentucky, but I’ll probably tune in later today, especially to see what my former employer is up to. Yup, I did marketing and PR at Al-Marah Arabians, back in 2004. Of course, back then we didn’t have such handy-dandy technology; when someone was interested in a horse we had for sale, I had to get out the camcorder, take the footage, transfer it to a VIDEOTAPE, and mail the video. Oh, back then it was a veritable Stone Age compared to now!

_______________________

What marketing and PR opportunities

might YOU create for your equine business, using video simulcast?

_______________________

I’m not sure if there will be an archived version of the video; I hope there will be. These galleries are part of the efforts of the Purebred Arabian Trust, and the opening ceremony would be an important historical document, albeit in video form.

It does bring up questions for equine businesses about video use. Can you expand your potential market through video simulcasts? Would it allow you to expand into other regions, countries, or even continents? Might you create public relations and promotion opportunities through the use of simulcast events? Ah, the opportunities!

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Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, New Media, Technology, Uncategorized, Video

Monday Morning Quickie – Check Out The Competition, With Compete.com

There are a number of helpful tools for analyzing online traffic. I think Compete.com is intriguing since you can compare multiple sites against each other. This means you can also look at your own site to see how it stacks up against the competition.

First of all, many thanks to Angelea Walkup, founder and ‘chief equine officer’ of HorseGirlTV, for sharing this resource with me.

While Compete.com has a paid, ‘Pro’ version, they also have a free version you can try out, and even the freebie has some interesting features.

I’m still exploring the site and its capabilities and applications, but by entering a Web site URL, you can view any site’s unique visitors (a better judge of traffic than ‘hits’), and see how that traffic has either increased or decreased over the past month and the past year. Compete.com also gives you the top five search terms (what people enter into a search engine such as Google or Bing in order to find you), and what ‘referring’ sites they find you from, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s a graph for one of my clients, The Equine Chronicle, showing the increase in their Web site traffic over the past year:

Compete.com graph for The Equine Chronicle on June 7, 2010

How might you use Compete.com for your horse business? With the free version, you can identify your own improvement in terms of traffic, identify the most-used search terms and incorporate those into your online content, or even analyze media outlets to find out what might be the best fit for your advertising dollars.

If you’re interested in checking out Compete Pro, here’s a very thorough review of the Compete Pro version by Melanie Nathan at Sugarrae.com.

Have comments, thoughts, or questions about Compete? Please Leave a Comment below – thanks!

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