Every day, horse business owners are inundated with stories about social media marketing: Facebook and fan pages, Twitter and tweets, blogs, videos and always something that’s even “better.” They read success stories on how social media can help them grown their business, provide better customer service and position them as the expert in their field. They feel increasingly pressured to become a part of this.
While some are still frozen by indecision (“maybe this is all just a fad…”), others have taken the plunge and have set up their pages and perhaps even posted a few times. But nothing immediately happens to increase their business. They realize that all this time posting is actually taking time away from their real business – riding horses, giving lessons, cleaning stalls, creating products, filling orders. Suddenly, they wonder if social media is really worth it.
The answer is “yes, it is.” Here’s how:
- There’s nothing magical about social media marketing – it’s word-of-mouth marketing…
- … just at the speed of light and with a global reach.
- Social media helps you get closer to and listen to your customers. You can find out what they are saying about your product?
- Social media encourages your customers to see you as a person who love horses as much as they do;
- Social media allows you to promote your ideas, products, and services directly to the horse market at zero cost (free!);
- Social media helps you get immediate feedback from your customers at zero cost (free!);
- Social media helps you to talk to your customers on a one-on-one level;
- Social media allows you to gain their trust and to be allowed into their inner circle of acquaintances and friends;
- Social media allows you to establish yourself as an expert and relate that expertise to how your product or organization can help them;
- Social media allows you to build and reinforce your brand daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
- Social media can encourage our audience to act – buy, join, etc.
One of the best ways to get started in social media is NOT by writing, but by “listening.” Start reading about your customers on their page and follow some of the key businesses and organizations for the sport. Try to paint a picture of who these people are and if they fit your image of your ideal customer.
But before you start posting, develop a good strategic plan. Will you have the time and resources to write good content on a regular basis, respond to customer comments in a timely manner, and monitor the trends in both social media and the horse world? Unfortunately, this is where most horse businesses who want to use social media lose momentum and their Facebook and Twitter accounts stay un-updated and eventually potential customers or members lose interest and top looking for your posts. Or worse, they assume you have gone out of business.
Posting on social media sites doesn’t have to be complex. Read to see what their problems are and figure out how your business can help them solve them. If you give them something they find valuable, it will keep them coming back for more. Nothing else matters unless they feel you are a trusted source of information.
There is no rigid formula on how to do it social media well. No matter what your goals are (sales, awareness, etc.) your #1 reason for using social media is to build a relationship with your audience.