Legal solutions for horse buyers after fraudulent horse sale stock photo © Sylvia en Donatella

Becoming a Remarkable Horse Business through Social Media

by Jamie Samples,
You have heard about it, you have read it and many have experienced it. That’s right folks we are talking about that two word phrase, social media.
If you were asked to choose between sitting in front of your computer or hanging out with your horse, most of you would choose your horse, hands down. So, between riding, cleaning the barn, giving lessons, baling hay and all the other honors of being a horse owner, where does social media fit in to your business? And what exactly is social media?
Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Social media is media for social interaction as a super-set beyond social communication.
This definition is so exciting to me because it truly describes what social media is not. Social media is not sales; it is not self-promotion. It is, instead, an avenue to interact with your clients and potential clients. It allows you to create a community around your brand.
Your job as a business owner is to be more concerned about others than yourself. Quite simply, the Golden Rule says it all, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”
You must be more motivated by enriching the lives of those in the equine community than your bottom line. I am not saying that making money is not important because we all know it is. However, I guarantee you that when you are genuine in providing a product or service to benefit others you will see money follow. As an added bonus you will have clients for life that will send you referrals. They will be your best form of advertising.
“The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.”  
John Russell, President, Harley Davidson
Imagine going to an equine event, expo or horse show with 500 people in attendance. You will be connecting with potential customers, clinicians, businesses and other equine professionals. For most events, you will have to pay for a booth, travel expenses and invest your time to expand your business.
Now imagine being able to connect with thousands of potential clients by sitting at home, in your office or in the saddle. Social media allows you to go beyond face to face communication. It promotes your brand to literally hundreds of thousands of people that want, need and have been looking for you!
Whether you are a breeder, trainer, horse rescue, farrier, feed store, equine insurance agent, photographer, realtor, breed association or other horse related business, social media must be a part of your marketing plan. Over one billion users on Facebook agree with me!
The comment I hear most often is, “I am so busy, where do I get started and how do I get started?” As with any other successful program, the best advice is make a plan and take action.
To help you in your quest to take action, here are a few simple steps to get you started and tips to enhance your current social media campaign, if you are already galloping along. Social media covers hundreds of different social sites, but I will be touching on Facebook, which ranks among the Fabulous Four: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Each is unique and important in your social media campaign. The terminology on Facebook can be confusing at times so for the purpose of this article I want to mention the difference between a personal profile and a business page. A personal profile allows you to add friends and this represents you as a person, not a business.
A page is specifically for a business, organization or celebrity. You gain fans when they LIKE your page. If you currently have your business on Facebook and you have to accept friend requests, it is set up incorrectly and to be effective it needs to be changed to a business page.
Below are a few key items that will give your page a professional edge. These items are not going to break the bank and will be guaranteed to make your business stand out from the rest.
•Customized Timeline Cover 
If you want to try to do it yourself, check out PicMonkey.com. Not wanting to go it alone? Hire a talented graphic designer to create a banner that reflects your brand.
•Introduction or Welcome Video
This is a must. A video does more than you can imagine by giving viewers a feel for your business’s “flavor”. We all know there are 100’s of other businesses like ours, but, what truly makes us different? A video does wonders to get your message across. These can range from $250 and up but your return on investment is priceless!
•Post plenty of pictures, videos, heartwarming stories and testimonials.
Talk about how you are involved or give back to your community. Ask clients to share how your service or product has impacted them.
Social Media growth and success does not happen overnight. Just like anything else it takes time, dedication and consistency. If things still seem too big to tackle or time seems to be scarce there are social media coaches and complete campaign management teams that are excited to help you grow your business through social media.
“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they CAN do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret to success.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
What is the best way to grow your fan base and keep current fans engaged? Tune in to radio station WIIFM. No, this is not an actual radio station, but it is the “language” of your clients, potential clients and networking connections.
What’s In It For Me
All of us have this little antenna, so to speak, that sticks out of our head. When we hear or see something that pertains to us or makes us feel good or shows us a benefit, we tune into that and stay tuned in.
What will you do to ensure people are tuned in to your business?
Will you take action, make a difference and change the world around you?

 Jamie Samples is one crazy country chic with a passion for marketing and social media. She is known for her contagious energy and never-ending smile. She started her riding career on a Welsh Pony when she was about 2 years old. She has participated in disciplines such as western, hunt seat, jumping, showmanship and trail riding throughout her show career. From starting her own business at age 13, to being awarded the sportsmanship award at the World’s Largest All Breed Youth Show at 14, her passion for horses and business just skyrocketed. In 2011, she was selected to be the co-anchor of America’s Favorite Trail Horse, which aired on HRTV in September. She is 38-years-old now, still riding, president of her own company, Yellow Barn Media and still riding a Welsh Pony! She prides herself in bringing out of the box ideas to the equine industry through creative social media strategies. Her company offers one-on-one social media coaching & complete management, brand development, networking training and marketing consulting.