Okay, I’ll admit it. There are approximately one million reasons that your equine business absolutely, positively must be on social. In my years working in social media and digital marketing, some of the most common questions I’ve received are What’s the point? Why bother? For someone like me who has seen the power of a solid social media strategy in action, this question blows my mind. It’s shocking to me that so many equine business owners just don’t see the value of investing in a social media presence, especially considering that the investment is one of time, not necessarily money. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to answer that oh-so-frequently asked question. As I said before, there are a million reasons for your equine business to be on social media. But if I dig deep and get to the heart of the matter, it really comes down to these two undeniable, irrefutable reasons your equine business absolutely, positively, must be on social media (if you’re interested in growing as a business, of course).
Social Media is the New Word of Mouth
I’m sure you’ve heard at least a variation of the old saying. A customer who has had a good experience will tell two friends. A customer who has had a bad experience will tell ten. That is the essence of word of mouth, and it can make or break a business. But what if I told you that this rule holds true online, only multiply it by one thousand? Whether good or bad, news simply travels farther – and faster – on social.
Social media is undeniably the new word of mouth, and this can be a terrifying reality for a small business. After all, the internet provides us all with unprecedented access to thousands upon thousands of people. Every single one of us has access to the equivalent of a stadium full of friends, family members, and acquaintances – even total strangers, with whom we share our experiences. The comments we leave about businesses on forums and Facebook pages, blogs and business listings all have the potential to influence the decisions of others. That circle of ten friends you may have shared your negative experience with in the past has now become a far reaching net of hundreds. In a perfect world, we might all feel the weight of this responsibility and make the choice to be truthful and considerate in our comments, understanding the impact they can have. Unfortunately that does not always happen.
While the potential damage from negative online word of mouth may seem like the biggest reason to nail your social media coffin shut and run for the hills, the very opposite is true. The good news is that social media has turned the tide of word of mouth in another way, that is just as impactful, if not more so. Businesses in the past had no say in what their customers were telling their friends. But these days, as these conversations are happening online, we as equine business owners now have the ability to be an active participant, and even to facilitate positive word of mouth. We are given the gift of actually being able to know what the world is saying about us, allowing us to respond in an appropriate way. An active social media presence – meaning you staying active to facilitate and moderate – not only makes your equine business more human and relatable, but it also allows you to keep the conversation going on your own turf. In short, social media gives small business owners the opportunity to let your excellent customer service shine, and show the world (and prospective customers) that you are responsive, and you care about their concerns, both positive and negative.
A word of caution: moderating the conversation doesn’t mean deleting negative comments. It also doesn’t mean responding aggressively or confrontationally to bad reviews, even if you know that the review is false or misleading. I’ve spoken about this before in this feature from Listen Interactive, hosts of the SMB Social Media Makeover Forum where I participated as a panelist in 2012.
“…complaints received publicly via social media are a blessing in disguise. They are an invaluable opportunity to show the world your soul and so much depends on effectively managing these complaints. I cringe when I see a business delete a complaint from their Facebook wall. It’s an enormous waste of an incredible opportunity.”
Branding Your Equine Business – Simplified
Many top executives said that a business’ brand is one of the most important investments a business owner can make. But what is a brand? Is it a name? A logo? A culture? Put simply, yes. It’s all of those things. Big businesses throughout the years have invested thousands, even millions in building a brand. From designing the perfect logo, to crafting a mission statement, code of ethics, and even creating quirky office cultures, companies become known not just for what they sell, but for who they are and how they behave. Yet many small business owners overlook this important step in building their businesses because they feel that creating a recognizable brand is simply out of reach.
Thanks so social media, branding your business has never been easier, or cheaper. Yes, a logo costs money (though it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg) but that is just one small part of the bigger picture. What better way to communicate your equine business’ values, mission, and personality – all important parts of a brand – than through social media? (Hint: there isn’t one.) This article from HubSpot outlines four tried and true tips for building a brand on Instagram. From strategic sharing to building your e-mail list by converting followers to subscribers, these tips hold true on most any social media platform. A few other things to try while you’re at it:
- Turn your best photos into shareable graphics that reach a wider audience. Add inspiring quotes that speak to your equine business’ personality (and don’t forget to include your logo!)
- Boost brand loyalty among your customers by sharing their content and celebrating their achievements in and out of the show ring.
- Position your equine business as the place to be on social by focusing on fostering an engaged audience. Remember, everyone wants to be a part of the hottest party on the social media block.
Considering social media now provides equine businesses the unprecedented ability to participate in conversations about their business and build a recognizable brand easier than ever before, the question shouldn’t be why bother, but instead – why not?
Motivated? Awesome! Get more in between the posts by subscribing to our newsletter! Have a question for me? I’d love to answer it! Who knows, it may become my next post. Get in touch with me here. – Lexi