Social media can be a powerful tool to promote one’s business and professional status — but there are a few pitfalls to avoid. Claire Trafton of Entrigue Consulting explains.
As a professional equestrian, you’re probably using social media as a rider or to help promote your small business. If you’re trying to build your accounts and your profiles, or are new to social media, the best way to look at the world of digital TMI is that of an online community.
Instagram and Facebook are two of the most popular social platforms for equestrians. It’s the old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words, so a video can really be worth millions in today’s digital age. If you look at your professional accounts as a place to communicate and participate in the larger equine community through sharing images, videos, articles and more, you’re already getting in touch with your target audiences.
There is a big difference between a personal and professional/business social media account. A professional account has “reach” and value much like a TV channel can guarantee ad space. Accounts with a larger base of engaged followers have monetary value in the world of advertising. Engaged followers are the key here. This means your followers have to actually “like” and participate in your posts.
This is a huge consideration today for many companies when approaching sponsorship for riders. From a marketing perspective, if a successful rider is not getting enough publicity or social reach, they might not be as valuable to companies considering sponsorship as a less competitive rider with more followers. Reach turns into return on investment. Companies spend a great deal of money on products to sponsor riders. Influencers can turn photos into clicks into sales.
When trying to increase your following, one approach we recommend in social media coaching is to understand the difference between “Me” and “We” content. You always want to make “We” content. “We” content engages another person. This content is interesting to people other than yourself, your mom, and the boyfriend to whom you’re trying to send passive-aggressive quote memes.
Posts that go viral have content that is valuable or gives information to other people. Profiles that relate to their audience are more successful; it’s more genuine and real!
Keep all of this in mind while you read these tips!
Social Media Dos:
You get what you give: Participate in the community
You want people to feel, react, and engage when they see your post. If you’re wanting more followers and likes (from people that you want attention from) then appeal to their interests. Sharing third party content is another great way to engage followers and be a participant in the community.
No one likes a pushy car salesman:
Use the 80/20 rule: 80% entertaining/info/relevant posts to your audience, 20% selling your services/products or product education. People can feel “spammed” if you post a lot about your services.
Struggle ends when gratitude begins:
Another way to link comments and content across accounts is gratitude. It’s important to promote your sponsors, owners, clients, show organizations etc. with your social media, because in linking their accounts you expand your community.
Birds of a feather flock together:
Consider your visual branding. Photography, colors, font and language play into the way you post things. Keep a visual style for your personal or business brand that is cohesive and consistent in all platforms.
Know which hashtags are popular. You can “visit” hashtags on Instagram and it will tell you how many posts have been tagged with that hashtag. Use effective tags, quality over quantity. Always use the hashtags of the company you’re sponsored by! Create a new hashtag only when it will be relevant to other equestrians–not just your ego!
Social Media Don’ts:
Type poop: Typos happen.
Don’t forget to proofread. Proper grammar is also important. Know the difference between you’re and your, as well as their, there, they’re etc. You may not notice a typo until three days after you’ve posted.
Don’t be that person that comments “follow for follow?”. It’s not always about getting your numbers up. You want people to like your content because it’s useful, intriguing, inspiring, and genuine.
Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma or your five-year-old niece to see. Employers and equestrian businesses look at your social media to get a feel for what kind of person you are. Start thinking of your social media as not only a place to share, but a place to build a first impression and reputation. What is sexy to one person is scandalous to another! Remember people have different backgrounds and values. Better safe than sorry.
Where did you get that shirt?
If you’re a sponsored rider, don’t wear a competitor’s product in any of your photos, even outside of competition. Your photos should represent the brands that are supporting you. Support them back by giving them shout-outs, wearing their clothes/equipment, and using any hashtags they’ve developed for their company. Sponsors greatly appreciate a social-media-active rider!
Ignorance is NOT bliss: Know your platforms.
Know that there are differences between Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, and Twitter. Certain types of posts “fit” the different mediums. For instance, photos that are more artistic or “Kodak” moments do well on Instagram versus corporate or advertisement photos. Sharing articles or third-party content is easier on Facebook and Linkedin. Know how to work these platforms too, so you can easily update contact info!
Social media can be overwhelming for a small business owner or professional. Corporations often have several people working full-time on social media and content creation. If you’re starting an equestrian brand, it can be beneficial to hire someone to help you. It takes time to build a genuine following, slow growth is good growth. Set weekly goals for yourself to post one to three times a week until you are maintaining constant participation. And always ask yourself, if someone else was posting this, would I like it?
Claire Trafton is a junior consultant at Entrigue Consulting, a full-service equestrian marketing and brand agency. She has worked on multiple professional rider and equestrian brand accounts managing social media content creation and growth. Claire enjoys working with riders across all horse sports including dressage, jumpers and eventing, but in her spare time rides western from reining to pleasure. If you have any questions about social media, please contact Claire at [email protected].