Tag Archives: social media

52 Fridays – #17 Think You Don’t Have Anything To Share On Social Media? Think Again!

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.

Social media is about building relationships and community. Sharing interesting ‘stuff’ about your horsebiz with supporters, fans, customers, and followers helps them interact with you, strengthening connections and likely your word of mouth exposure. But when it’s something you’re immersed in (aka, your horse business), that ‘interesting information’ can be something you don’t even think about, because you take it for granted.

How can you start finding stuff to share? By going through your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly routines with a fine-tooth comb, making a list of photo or video opportunities, events, clients, horses, and then creating a list or calendar (remember 52 Fridays #4, What The Bleep Is A Marketing Calendar, And How Do I Use One?) to plan for capturing things when they’re going to happen.

Still need a few hints? Here you go:

  • It’s breeding and foaling season on many horse farms. Have someone take photos of your stallion doing his studly best to impress a teaser mare. Or take photos of newborn foals, even of the birth process if the mare’s OK with it. Follow a few foals as they grow up, with weekly photos or video and stories about their personality, misadventures, imprinting, and training.
  • Are you clipping horses for show season, or is the farrier coming out this week? Packing up for a show, expo, or tradeshow? What else is going on?
  • How about your lesson students or training clients? Photos or video of a portion of their lesson can be shared, with their permission of course! It’s a good idea to have a signed photo release when you’re sharing images of others on your website or via social media, especially with minors who need a parent to sign for them.

Sure, all this is part of your regular routine, but that’s the point…you’re allowing others who are interested in what you do and what you have to offer to have a glimpse into what makes up the tick-tock of your day. Do be cautious about ‘over-sharing’ your personal details, and your current whereabouts; for more information about that, check out 52 Fridays #16 from last week.

Here’s a real-life Facebook-sharing example I learned from Mandy Parker, the marketing coordinator and art director at Heritage Homes of Nebraska; we met in a virtual conference event (a sweet concept, watch for a blog post sometime in the future about it!).

Heritage Homes builds custom homes in their manufacturing facility for a swath of the Midwest and Great Plains states, plus Canada. They’ve recently started Web Wednesdays, sharing ‘in-progress’ photos of client homes currently being built. They get a signed release from each client, and post the images at their Facebook page. Here’s what Mandy had to say about their results:

“Our Web Wednesdays have been a great “like” getter for us.  We just started the program a month or 2 ago and have gotten about 100 likes from it.  I know 100 is small potatoes, but for us just starting the Social Media realm I am pretty excited.”

Those ‘likes’ are the start of a relationship with people who are interested in new homes, ‘dream’ homes, design and architecture, etc. They might or might not become customers, but Heritage Homes is making use of social media to connect and share with people who are interested in what they do. They’re also leveraging current business, because don’t you think the folks whose homes are featured are sending the Facebook link to their friends & family?

It’s also a good idea to keep recording tools close at hand, and make documentation part of your daily routine. Last year I was working on an article, and interviewed a trainer/breeder; she said she always carries a camera out into the pastures and shoots a few minutes of video of whatever’s going on, then posts it to YouTube.

The best social media sharing involves telling your story to to your community, in bite-sized pieces that you share with them over time. If you’re wondering what you have to share, you might be surprised at what you do find if you just take a look.

What do you share on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, or other social media? Share links to your stuff via the Leave a Comment link below. See you here next Friday for 52 Fridays #18!

Read other 52 Fridays posts by clicking on the Sort Posts By Topic dropdown menu to the right and selecting the Facebook category, or you can select 52 Fridays to read posts #1 through #16.

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Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, Facebook, New Media, Photography, Twitter, Uncategorized, Video

52 Fridays – #16 Using Social Media: There’s A Policy For That

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.

Sharing information on social media can help build connections and attract customers. But too much information, called ‘oversharing,’ can be downright dangerous for your horsebiz. If you’re using social media for your business or brand, it’s a good idea to protect them from risk by developing a policy about what to share, where to share, and by whom.

It's a good idea to define what to share, and how much, on social media.

Social Media Is Often Free, But It Can Also Be A Free-For-All…So How Do You Protect Your Horsebiz?

There’s A Policy For That

Social media use for horsebiz is sort of a ‘wild, wild west’ right now. More and more people are jumping in and connecting via social networking sites like Facebook and ‘real time’ social media networks like Twitter, and more equine-related businesses are also getting on board. But when you’re new to social media, it can seem very intimate and personal, so you might inadvertently share information you don’t want others to know:

    • Do you take photos with your mobile phone at horse shows and post them to Facebook or Twitter? Your smartphone could be ‘geotagging‘ or marking photos with your exact location, potentially leaving your home and barn vulnerable while you’re away.
    • If you have employees, do they post to your business social media? Do they talk about work on their own social media accounts? The line between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ is grey, at best, when it comes to sharing on social media, and inappropriate sharing by employees could affect your business or brand.

These are just two examples of the many ways that sharing on social media could hurt your horse business. It’s become such a potential risk, with real-life situations involving lawsuits, that insurance companies are now starting to develop social media insurance coverage.

But, social media and the interaction it can provide with customers can lead to beneficial opportunities for both, so proactively developing a policy, and putting it in writing, can help minimize risk to your horsebiz.

Setting up a basic social media policy can be fairly easy; you’ll want to include things like ‘avoid sharing proprietary information’ and ‘remember you’re representing the business both at work and during leisure hours.’ But think about the upsides of social media and the opportunities as well, such as ‘consider what our audience needs and wants from us.’

For more understanding on social media policies and what to include, here are some good resources:

Different types of social media have different benefits, opportunities, and risks. Start by becoming familiar with each kind as you’re getting started, and set up a basic policy for each one. You can revise as you go, but writing a policy after something’s happened is like closing that barn door once the horse has galloped away.

Does your horsebiz have a social media policy? Is this a whole new concept? Share your thoughts on social media, risk, and policies via the Leave a Comment link below. See you here next Friday for 52 Fridays #17!

Read other 52Fridays posts by clicking on the Sort Posts By Topic dropdown menu to the right and selecting 52 Fridays to read posts #1 through #15.

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Monday Morning Quickie – Most Small Biz Looking For 2010 Growth

As reported today on MarketWatch (part of the Wall Street Journal’s Digital Network) a recent survey of small businesses indicated that 79% have a neutral-to-confident outlook when it comes to business growth for the rest of 2010. The results contain useful lessons for horse business owners, too.

A survey of almost 7,000 small businesses indicated that:

  • They’re doing more with less
  • They’re looking for new efficiencies to offset increased costs
  • Many of them are anticipating growth in 2010

The 2010 Small Business Attitudes & Outlooks Survey was conducted by Constant Contact (which I’ve used for years for my own email marketing!) in collaboration with several other organizations focused on small businesses, including SCORE, the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC), and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).

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If word of mouth is so important, how are

people finding out about your horse business?

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Here’s what I find particularly interesting from a marketing point of view – while 90% of responses indicated that word of mouth was far and away their most important marketing tool, 43% have cut their marketing budget. My question is, how are people supposed to find out about your business, and talk about it, if you’re cutting back on spending in areas that help them know what you’re doing?

It’s also interesting that the study shows small businesses turning to social media and digital tools as a way to get the word out, presumably capitalizing on word of mouth and doing so in a low-cost way, using tools such as Facebook (51%), blogs (29%), LinkedIn (27%), and Twitter (26%).

Equine businesses can do this, too! Many online and social media tools are free or low-cost. They just need to fit with your overall marketing plan and strategy, reach your target markets, and be something you can maintain over time.

Studies have shown that businesses decreasing their marketing spending during economic downturns were at a disadvantage when things improved. Even with a small budget, there are ways you can market your horse business now, to best position yourself for the growth to come.

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Email, Internet Search Most Effective in 2009, Per Survey

The marketing trade publication Brandweek highlighted a recent survey of media and advertising agencies, publishing companies, and Fortune 500 companies that indicated email and Internet search were the marketing tools yielding the strongest results last year.

As reported by Mark Dolliver from Adweek, the December 2009 survey by Datran Media questioned executives on the ‘marketing channels’ that performed the strongest:

  • Email – 39%
  • Internet search – 24%
  • Offline – 9%
  • Affiliate marketing – 9%
  • Display – 7%
  • Direct mail – 6%
  • Social media – 5%
  • Mobile – 1%

What I find interesting is that some fairly youthful tools in social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) performed only slightly lower than long-established direct mail (that’s cause they’re more fun & interactive than junk mail in my mailbox). Half of respondents (50%) also said they think social media will generate quantifiable results in 2010, so according to them all my Twitter time will be paying off!

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Any marketing and promotion media still has to be tied to

your own business’ overall marketing goals and your budget.

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My question would be, do these results simply indicate where the larger percentage of marketing dollars are being spent (e.g., companies simply spent more on ’email’ than on ‘display’ last year), or does it actually indicate what’s more effective in reaching customers? I think this is a good guideline to go by, but any marketing and promotion media still has to be tied to your own business’ overall marketing goals and your budget.

As for why they’re using digital media, the respondents have many of the same objectives as the average horse business owner or manager:

  • Reaching a target audience – 84%
  • Generating high-quality leads – 74%
  • Converting leads into sales – 63%
  • Measuring and understanding our audience – 60%
  • Retaining existing customers – 57%
  • Digitally transacting with customers – 54%

According to Dolliver, survey respondents said ‘targeting’ will be their primary online marketing tactic this year, which shows that larger companies and ad agencies also find it a challenge to get in front of their ideal customers, the same as equine businesses.

The good news is that in terms of digital marketing, these are tools well within the horse business owner’s reach. But as anyone who’s used a muckrake before knows, good results depend on how you use the tools!

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