You don't have to be a social media guru to use these digital tools to attract new customers and stay in touch with your current ones.
The teenagers who ride at your facility never stop talking about Facebook and Twitter, but what does that have to do with you as an equine professional? The answer is plenty. Social media sites such as these two popular spots, as well as places on the web designed specifically for boosting business, can be a boon for boarding stables and trainers. And best of all is that it won’t cost you anything except the time it takes to create your profile page and maintain it.
The most popular site these days is Facebook.com, where you can develop a page for your facility to help create a presence on the web. You can make your page a Local Business or Place, or a Company, Organization or Institution. You can put up photos of your facility, along with your address, phone number and descriptive information about your business. If you have a personal Facebook page, you can then send notifications to all your contacts about your new page, which will appear on their pages. Or, just look to some of your horsy friends to get your network started. You can also import customer contact info so you can notify existing clients about your page. Keep in mind that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook today are women over 45.
Google+ (which can be reached by typing in www.google.com/+ in your browser) is the direct competition to Facebook, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use both. Instead of “friends,” Google+ has “circles,” which consists of like-minded contacts also registered on the site. You can share information with these people and see what they're sharing with you. You can also participate in live chats with circle members, who will appear in your public profile. On your Google+ page, you can post photos and all kinds of information to share with people in your circle.
Twitter.com is another popular way you can use to attract clients and keep in touch with the ones you have. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, which may not sound like much, but it’s enough to say something that will attract attention. Get your clients to follow you on Twitter to see what’s going on at your facility, or make yourself known to other equestrians by using the word “horse,” your location and “boarding stable” or “training.” Others will find you when they search for these key words. You can also “tweet” photos and videos, too.
While Facebook and Twitter were primarily designed for connecting with friends, LinkedIn.com was created for business networking. On this site, you create a profile for yourself or your business, then connect with other professionals. LinkedIn will suggest connections for you based on your initial contacts, creating a wide network of possible followers. You can share updates that will be broadcast to your contacts, potentially growing your web of acquaintances. Professional horse folks have used this site to find barn managers and other employees, great deals on hay and much more.
Another site developed for business promotion is FourSquare.com, which notes your business location when you create a profile page with photos and other details about your facility. When other members in your area search for the word “horse,” for example, a link to your page will appear. A Google map shows your exact location. You can also regularly post photos and “tips,” calling attention to your facility.
Many of these sites connect with each other, meaning users can bounce from your page on one site to your page on another. But keep in mind that if you create a presence on all these sites, you need to constantly update them. If you fail to make regular posts, your followers will drop off and you’ll have lost what could become a dedicated audience.
In the weeks to come we will delve more deeply into the various social mediums, how to pick what will work best for you, and tips to help you get started, or become a pro!
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