So, you already have a Facebook set up for your horse business. Congratulations! You are already one step ahead of so many equipreneurs! But social media is, by nature, social. Think of your Facebook business page as a party. You’ve invited your guests, and many of them have shown up. As the host of this online party, it’s your job to make sure your guests have a great time. There should be music, snacks, a tasty beverage or two (or three) and above all, lively conversation. After all, it’s no party if your guests are stuck in a corner munching their cheese and crackers by themselves.
The social media equivalent of mingling is what us marketing people call engagement. Engagement in social media is defined as the level of interaction your content receives through likes, shares, and comments. And of course users who stick around longer and exposed to your brand’s core message and ultimately, your sales pitch.
Just like guests at a party, engaged users on a Facebook page are likely to stick around longer.
A bigger chance to expose a potential customer to your products and offerings is just one benefit of an engaged following. It can help to boost traffic over to your website, help you better tailor your future content to your audience by measuring engagement as a metric or KPI (key performance indicator) and even help to grow your following. After all, everyone wants to be a part of the biggest, wildest party on the block.
Keeping your audience engaged is more of an art than a science. It takes a combination of research, trial and error, and listening to develop a formula that works for you and your business.The following tips will help you get started and point you in the right direction.
Consider the Culture – Understand Your Audience
What is the culture like in your barn? Are your clients serious athletes with their sights set on the International Arena at WEF? You might want to keep your content more on the serious side. Consider posting content that positions your brand as being on the leading edge in the sport. New developments in therapies for the high performance horse, or the latest technology in tack and equipment.
Are you a lesson barn focusing on beginners or pony riders? Chances are, unless you’re the trainer of a child movie star, the parents are the ones cutting the checks and making the decisions. What information would a horse show mom or dad find appealing? Try sharing photos of adorable kids and ponies (bonus points if they are your own ponies and students!) or articles on the safest riding helmets on the market. Bottom line: think like your target market, and tailor your content to them.
Change it Up – Variety is Key
You wouldn’t run a horse in your training program through the same old gymnastic every single day, would you? The same can be said for your social following. Variety in content is key to keeping your audience engaged (and keeping them from hitting the “unlike” button!) Try posting an even mix of the following:
Self Promotional Posts: These could be barn updates, posts about an upcoming show or clinic that your team is attending, announcements for a new opening for boarders, or any content promoting your own horse business.
Community Building Posts: Try sharing posts that feature your own clients such as a photo of a horse in training with a quick update about the progress that day: “Wonder Mare had a great jump school today with head trainer [Trainer Name]! Thanks [Customer Name] for trusting us with the development of this talented mare!”
Cross Promotional Posts: Is there a particular product that is tried and true? Give credit where credit is due! Let your customers know about products, brands, and offerings that can actually help them. An easy way to do this is to share posts from that professional or company’s own Facebook page. Just make sure you’re only sharing information that your audience would find useful.
Visual Media: I believe photos and videos should be used with just about every Facebook post you make, but sometimes a picture says a thousand words on it’s own. Share a beautiful photo, or an inspiring quote. Just be sure to link back to the source and give credit to the creator.
Be a Responsible Host – Don’t Post and Run!
This is one of my personal pet peeves, as I see it happen all too often. A good host mingles with his or her guests, and keeps the conversation going. The same can be said for the host of our online party. Don’t post your great, engaging content, and then exit stage left. Once the content has been posted, the fun begins. Stick around for the ensuing conversation. Make sure to respond to comments, and answer any questions that come up. This is the essence of being social on social media! Bonus tip: try and respond to all comments the same day if possible! It shows current and potential followers that you are active on social media, and that you’re there to actually interact with them should they have a question or concern.
This is far from an exhaustive list. There are infinite possibilities when it comes to fostering engagement in your social following. By considering the culture, keeping your content varied, and by moderating your comments, you’re off to a great start!