Welcome to #WinningWednesday! Every so often, we’ll be featuring an equestrian brand that is killing it on social media, and today is Volume One! In our inaugural edition, we’ll be chatting with Andrea Benavides Wise, the founder and creator of the Pony Glam brand, and its fab sparkly hoof polish for posh horses, Hoof Hi-Lites. First, if you’re not familiar with Pony Glam, you’ll want to head on over to their site. Andrea’s sassy mare Chloe runs the blog round those parts, and it should definitely be on your must read list. You can start with my recent guest post if you feel so inclined. After that, check out the lay of their social media land, and share the love, of course, with a like and a follow.
BE LIKE ANDREA
You’ll notice that Andrea has focused her social media efforts to two profiles – Instagram and Facebook. Andrea is smart. Be like Andrea.
All overused memes aside, this is a smart strategy for a brand like Pony Glam which is run by a busy equipreneur. It’s not always wise to run out and jump on every social media platform there is unless you’re sure you have the time to keep them updated and active. It’s much better for both your sanity and your reputation to dedicate yourself to just a handful that you can manage well. Spreading yourself too thin on social media can mean leaving abandoned profiles in your wake, and that is a big no-no.
Do you have an abandoned profile? Don’t feel bad. We all have at one point or another. Use a service like If This Then That to at least link to a profile you do use frequently. That way, whatever you post on, say, Instagram, is automatically transferred to your otherwise dead Twitter account. This isn’t an ideal scenario, and it’s by no means a complete strategy, but it can at least help you avoid the dead profile dilemma for a while.
A LITTLE ABOUT ANDREA
Andrea Wise is mommy to one totally adorbs little boy, and a soon-to-be mommy of two. She grew up riding on the A circuit with trainers Dale Crittenburger and Peter Foley from Aldie, Virginia and kicking tail in the pony divisions. After a ten year hiatus from riding, she decided she needed to buy a horse and get back in the tack. She credits Davidson, North Carolina trainer Anne Carter “AC” Jones with helping her get back into riding after her hiatus. She trained with AC for five years and now rides with Jackie Howard at Charlottetowne Stables. She competes in the Child/Adult Jumpers with her mare Chloe, whom she purchased in 2010. Outside of the horsey world, Andrea has a degree in Economics and Marketing from Virginia Tech, as well as a law degree from Wake Forest University. When she’s not chasing after her seventeen month old son Tanner and wondering how she’s ever going to manage chasing after two little humans, she loves to read, get obsessed with Netflix series, and travel.
BB: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH PONY GLAM?
AW: Pony Glam began when I was grooming/tacking up my horse, Chloe, for a light ride. She had on a purple saddle pad and purple polo wraps. I was applying clear, traditional hoof dressing to her hooves and I thought to myself that “this should be purple to match my polo wraps”. At that moment, Chloe bent down and gave me a “loving” nip on my butt, which I took as a sign that she agreed! I spent the next several weeks trying to create a purple hoof dressing. Voila! Posh Purple was born!
BB: WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA PART OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN?
AW: At the time, Facebook was a great way to market your product for FREE across the world. People could easily comment and share my product photos, sending colored hooves all over the internet. I remember getting all of my sales that way. Unfortunately, Facebook has changed a lot since then, and businesses do not get the same sort of page views we once did. I still have a Facebook page, but now it is more for business legitimacy than anything else. Instagram is something I started doing in the last year and a half. It is really popular amongst the tweens and does help you gain exposure, but it does not yet have a click through capability, which makes creating sales very tough.
BB: HOW DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA HAS HELPED YOU GROW?
AW: I do almost zero marketing and rely on social media entirely. Social media has gained me a following all over the country and has helped me get noticed by tack stores. It is how I share pictures of my products, pictures of customers using my products and helps me to create a brand image.
BB: WHAT IS ONE IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA AND BUSINESS? SHARE YOUR FAVORITE TIP OR TRICK.
AW: I have learned to not solely post about Pony Glam. People get bored of that. It is important to mix it up. I try to add some funny photos or quotes, as well as personal pictures of my animals/family, personal style, or current obsessions. I have noticed people become more engaged that way and tend to leave more comments and tags.
BB: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR PONY GLAM MOVING FORWARD?
AW: I hope to continue to try to focus more on getting more retailers and gaining more of a following. I would love to hook up with a horse show circuit for 2016 and have Pony Glam be used as awards. I also hope to continue to post more on my website blog, Chloe’s Chatter.
BB: WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE BIG BAY?
AW: Chloe, duh! She is the self-proclaimed inspiration behind Pony Glam. She is sassy, silly and a total diva. She jumps over poop and does not roll in the mud…ever!
Andrea brings up some really great points. First of all, she recognized social media as an invaluable tool for helping her create a recognizable brand, for free. That’s a big deal for small businesses. Branding has traditionally been considered a time consuming, expensive ordeal, but social media gives you unprecedented access to your customers, potential customers, and their friends and allows you to engage in brand boosting activities on a daily basis.
She also mentioned a very important point for anyone thinking of getting involved in social media as a method for driving sales. Andrea had to reevaluate her social media strategy when it became clear that Facebook was no longer driving the same level of sales that it once had. Social media is constantly changing, and no one ever really knows what direction it will head next. Basing your entire online marketing efforts on social media exclusively is a recipe for disaster. The reasoning behind this is simple. You do not own Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or any of the other social media platforms. Any of them can disappear or undergo a game altering change at any moment, and if your sales funnel focuses on social media exclusively, you are, to put it lightly, SOL.
The good news is that you do own your website. You also own your blog and email list. Your online marketing efforts should always focus on driving traffic to a platform that you maintain control of. As long as your primary goal with social is to drive people in the direction of an owned property, you’re moving in the right direction. Andrea has an active blog with loyal following. She keeps the content fresh and engaging, and the design of her site is appealing and easy to navigate. I particularly love her Pony Paparazzi features where she features photos of people and ponies using her products around the country, from lessons to shows and everything in between. Featuring your customers is an indispensable tool in building brand loyalty.
Regular followers of Pony Glam will also notice that the people who regularly represent Pony Glam on
social media are referred to as “minions”. Giving the most loyal members of your community a name to identify with tells them they are valued, and part of the family. It also creates a sense of exclusivity. This is one of the tactics that author Jackie Huba discusses in her book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics. I received a copy of this book, which was previously titled Monster Business, before it’s official release when I heard Jackie speak at the 2012 WOMMA Summit (just before we all spent half of a live performance thinking we were rocking out to the real Lady Gaga. Nope. Just a really talented impersonator) Since then, this book has become one of my go-to resources for explaining loyalty to my clients as well as building it in my own brand. It’s an easy read, and easily one of the most actionable marketing books I’ve read. Literally every line is a tool.
Andrea has a solid asset in her website, and no matter how social media evolves in the future, she’ll be able to readjust her strategy to keep traffic headed in the right direction.
Questions? Want to know more about Pony Glam and how Andrea uses social media to build her empire of minions? Ask away in the comments below!