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Let’s Discuss: Sales Sites vs. Facebook

Which do you prefer?

Photo by Kristen Kovatch

There are roughly a billion ways to sell a horse in the modern age of the internet, in addition to all of the old-school ways that served us well for all the decades of sport horse trading before that. For the scope of today’s discussion, we’ll set aside the word-of-mouth and poster-at-the-local-tack-shop methods and focus specifically on two more recent means of advertising: social media and sales sites.

My family recently sold one of its Percheron geldings. The horse had originally been purchased as a coming three-year-old at a draft horse sale and just never matured to the size to match the other three horses in the hitch, so we sought a good, loving home where he would be appreciated for what he was — a fine single or team horse who could also go for a ride with a great personality.

We took the conformation photos, the head photos, action photos and plenty of video and I got to work writing a sales ad which I cross-posted to regional Facebook horse sales groups, national draft horse sales groups and my personal Facebook page. I also placed one ad on a sales site, Equine Now, taking out just the free ad which allowed a single photo.

The ad in both forms stated clearly the horse’s height, age, past experience, reason for sale and asking price, and also included the phone number where interested parties could call to set up a time to come see the horse. I specified that interested parties should call only as the number was a landline.

I must have done a pretty good job of spelling out all the information that people needed to know in the ad itself, as the only question to be consistently posted on the ad itself was “how much?” (I had spelled that figure out to avoid the post being flagged as an illicit animal sale via Facebook’s frustrating new ad policies). A number of folks shared the ad and tagged their friends, and we settled down to play the waiting game.

Pretty soon the calls started coming in from several interested parties, with one particularly motivated potential buyer in the vanguard. My father-in-law helpfully asked each of these callers where they had seen the horse listed, for my own notes, and I was surprised to find that the majority of them came from the “traditional” sales website, with its sole photo, rather than Facebook.

The horse did ultimately sell to this buyer and he soon found himself en route to his new home, literally halfway across the country. At last report, he’s settling in great and loving his new family.

So why is it, in the age in which everyone and their mother is on Facebook, that we had better success selling this horse via the seemingly “old school” method of placing an ad on a sales site? I have zero actual scientific data to support any of these theories, but here’s my hypothesis: in the age of social media, in which it’s easier to send a text than place a call, and easier to post a comment than send that text, it takes a truly interested buyer to pick up the phone.

We’re all more likely to use our thumb to scroll our newsfeed and casually browse horses for sale just for the sake of seeing what’s out there, maybe post a comment asking about price (the classic “tire kicker” comment) when we’re not actually looking to buy anything. It’s already there on our newsfeed, after all. But we’re far more likely to go to a sales database when we’re actually actively looking for a new horse to add to our family, and when we find a horse whose ad looks like everything we’re seeking, we’re way more likely to pick up the phone and place that call.

It’s true that making a connection with a potential buyer on Facebook can help us keep tabs on the horses we sell. Then again, almost everyone is on Facebook anyway — it’s not necessary to actually broker the sale via social media to connect with a buyer and stay in touch.

This is all my theory, anyway. And as we mindlessly scroll our newsfeeds every time we have a spare moment or two, horse after horse likely rolls past our eyes, and we don’t truly see most of them. Yes, everything else in our lives does seem to be on Facebook. Chances are you found this article discussion via Facebook. But for some aspects of our world, perhaps, there are better or at least different ways.

Join the discussion in the comments section if you’re a seller or a buyer: where do you prefer to do your horse trading, and why?

Go riding!

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