Equine Business Support

using images in equine businesses

How To Use Video In Your Business Promotion

Some businesses naturally lend themselves to using video to promote their work, because they are involved in very visual activities. The equine industry is one such area because clients really need to see what you are talking about.

This article looks at some of the ways in which you can quickly and easily use videos to promote your work and reach a wider audience.

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Ideas For Using Social Media To Promote Your Equine Business

One of the biggest challenges for any equine business is to attract new clients or customers.

The ideal way to inform clients is to use social media and post updates and information that customs can read in their own time.

And research shows that most people who want to buy or use a service including from an equine business, like to research and read more before they commit to spending money.

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image horses eye

Can Blogging Help An Equine Business?

Running any business is time consuming and demanding enough, but a business that involves live animals such as an equine one brings additional challenges of its own.

image horse rider
(Image – “Equestrian Rider Dressage Oval Retro” by vectorolie freedigitalphotos.net)

So how are you supposed to find time to promote your business and keep up with all your social media connections?

One of the options that businesses are looking at is to create an online presence which can then be given to someone else to manage, or it can be done in house with dedicated time management planning.

In this article I look at some of the options and shortcuts to managing your marketing and social media presence, and consider whether blogging could be something useful to your business.

 

 

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Alternative Jobs in the Equine Industry

So you have an interest in horses and want a job that involves working with them? Well in Ireland you tend to be presented with three options – be a riding school instructor, be a racehorse jockey or become an international show jumper. But is that really it, is there nothing else?

Of course there are more jobs we know that (now) but it does take a bit of exploring to find the less familiar jobs out there. One of the things that I really enjoy about writing this blog, is that I can travel around, meet people who are doing different kinds of horse related jobs and write about them!! So here is an overview of some of the kinds of work that you could do if you’re leaving school and looking for a career in the equine industry (or perhaps a little bit older and looking for a change in life.)

Equine Blogging

The obvious choice for me to start with. The internet has seen a massive growth in people using the internet (currently estimated at 3 billion worldwide and growing daily). People use it to find out information, buy things and connect with others who share their passion. For this reason most equine businesses have a website with the aim of reaching more customers, but in order to keep a website active information needs to be constantly updated and this is where a blog becomes an important part of this.

There are jobs for equine writers who work freelance and may write for lots of other companies and websites. There are then those writers that have their own blog site and/or guest blog on other pages. Either way if you enjoy sharing your stories and writing about horses then blogging could be for you.

Equine Journalist

Similar to blogging in some ways, equine journalists write for specific magazines and online webpages that cover equine events and features. Organisations such as the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists provide networking opportunities for budding journalists. The British Equestrian Writers Association is part of the Sports Journalists Association and aims to support both writers and photographers covering horse events.

Equine Photographer

The expansion of the internet, with an estimated billion users worldwide and improvements in digital photography has meant that there is a global audience that has high expectations of photography. The growth in social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram are based on people wanting to see images rather than read lots of words. This is definitely the era of the image, and the better the image the more the demand.

Similar to the next section on equine art, in order to make a business from the work you probably need to develop your own business, including building a website and begin to gather your own fans of your work. Social media especially Pinterest and Instagram are valuable forums to join.

Equine Artist (sculpting, painting, print work)

I love art especially painting and I do have a special interest in promoting equine art through this

Winter Horseland by Kevin
Winter Horseland by Kevin Russ

site. An affiliate site that I work closely with and promote is Society 6 where any artist can set up an account and sell their work through this online gallery. Other options for selling your art include building your own website / blog site and then using social media forums such as Twitter Pinterest or Facebook to connect with others and direct them to your website.

Traditional outlets such as stalls at horse events and equestrian shows are another way, like most social media work these days, it’s about building a following and being able to promote your work to an audience that has been cultivated and developed over time.

Equine Business – Shop / Online

Nowadays most equine tack suppliers and other shop based businesses also have a website and an online presence of some kind including Facebook and Twitter accounts. Running a business involves knowledge of the equine industry and the products you are selling, alongside having knowledge of a business. There could be some starter grants available through local enterprise organisations and funding partnerships.

Affiliate marketing – this can be a cheaper alternative to starting your own business. Affiliate marketing involves promoting products from other companies and receiving a commission for anything that is sold. Currently this approach is bigger in the United States but many companies are seeing this as a more effective marketing tool and the equine industry, although slower than other companies is also becoming interested. You need to have your own website for many of the products or use social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Small Yard Owner

For many graduates of equine college the first kind of work available is often working in other people’s competition yards. The next step for some is to rent their own yard and manage a small number of horses on livery. A lot of the work can be with young or green horses being brought in for breaking and schooling. Instructing is another way that small yards can bring in income.

Freelance instructor – Insurance can be a large problem for many instructors trying to establish their own yard, one option instead could be to freelance as an instructor first at other equestrian centres or through riding and pony clubs.This is also a way to build up clients before investing in your own centre.

Equine Hospital / Vet / Nurse

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Book Cover – describing a year in an equine veterinary hospital, all the stories are true, although names have been changed in some situations to provide anonymity.

Working as a specific equine vet isn’t always possible within general vet practices as most ordinary veterinary clinics wouldn’t have enough clients. However there are places such as Newmarket Equine Hospital where equine specialists operate in a purpose built facility, which is the largest of its type in Europe.

In the UK the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has established a register of specialists with the aim of encouraging veterinary practices to consult registered specialists, including equine nurses and vets. There is also a European register(EVBS) where members have to renew their status every five years and be a practicing specialist within their field.

Equine Nutrition Expert

Equine nutritionists can work with a variety of people including yards, farms, homes and veterinary clinics. Their focus is nutrition but this can also include handling a variety of animal ailments and making assessments of cases. The work can also include developing feeding and supplement schedules.

There is a strong maths and science component to the work and many nutritionists undertake research work looking at developing feeds and supplements. This work may be done with some of the larger feed companies. The information also needs to be communicated to a variety of different people and strong communication skills are also an important part of the job.

Lecturer – Equine College

Enniskillen campus sign
CAFRE in Northern Ireland Enniskillen campus

Across Ireland and Northern Ireland there are a number of Equine colleges such as CAFRE (College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) where students can go, which also means that lecturers are needed. Along with lecturer posts there are also equine course tutors, that college graduates and Level 4 instructors can apply for.

Social Media Platforms – Hootsuite

Hootsuite - Social Media Relationship Platform

Social Media

It is envisaged that by 2020 nearly 85% of all sales will occur through social media and online platforms. This is a big change from the traditional model of business, one that focused on establishing a physical presence usually with a shop and promoting products locally. There are of course advantages to both but the biggest draw for most businesses with online promotion is the increased trade that can be achieved from a larger audience. The next question then is how does that affect equine businesses?

Advantages of Social Media

There is no doubt that the recession affected many businesses especially here in Ireland. However social media has the opportunity to bypass some of these financial effects by reaching out to a broader global market.

As a marketing strategy as well there are a number of advantages.

  • It’s often cheaper than printed flyers or ads run in the local papers
  • It can easily be targeted to loyal customers
  • It works with our normal everyday technology, such as mobile phones
  • It can reach a bigger audience through likes, shares or retweets, that we cannot access directly.

The largest social media network for businesses is Facebook in Europe and Twitter in the US. I wrote about using Twitter here in a previous post, so in this article I want to focus on the time and effort that businesses face when taking on a marketing strategy that involves social media, and how this can be made easier through using social media platforms.

Social Media Platforms

This is probably indicative of how much social media is in our lives, that we now need to have special platforms (or software) just to manage all our social media accounts. However in business this is becoming a necessity and I can give you an example of this by walking you through my own social media accounts for this blog site “EquineBlogIreland”.

Hootsuite

I’m going to use the social media platform Hootsuite as my example because this is the one that I use. There are two versions a free and a paid pro version. The pro version as you can expect has more options, including be able to add more than the three accounts available in the free version.

For this blog site I have three main social media accounts, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I also use the social media for research on the latest trends and discussions for different topics related to the equine industries. Most of this information is collected through different Facebook pages and groups. For the purpose of this article I will separate out these two activities and explain the differences, starting with the actual social media accounts.

Setting up your dashboard in Hootsuite

Dashboard of Hootsuite
Dashboard of Hootsuite for Equine Blog Ireland

The picture above shows a screenshot of the three equineblogireland accounts as they appear on the Hootsuite dashboard. As you can see they are conveniently placed side by side, which means that I can quickly glance across all three sites and see what is happening.

In the free version this is all you can add, which is still adequate especially when starting out. I also manage another blog site and use social media for research so in total I use more than 3 accounts and use the pro version (which they offer on a 30 day free trial).

Sending a Message through Hootsuite

To send a message it’s easy and straightforward. Simply select the account where the post is going, in the example on the right this is to Twitter. Type the message.

Dashboard Hootsuite
Sending a tweet through Hootsuite

 

Other Options

The advantage of a social media platform is not just in being able to send a single message. It is also about the ease of being able to manage all your social media interactions, so here are some other things that a platform like Hootsuite can enable you to do easily and quickly.

Links to Webpages

As well as sending a message you can also link the tweet or message to a blog or web page.  Simply insert the url into the box at the bottom of the message and click on the shorten url tool. This creates a version of your link to fit the social media site.

Add an image to your posts or tweets

You can add an image to any post or tweet, which is how I started using Hootsuite in the first place,

Hootsuite dashboard attach image
Attach an image

because I was fed up with the difficulties I kept encountering when trying to add images.The process is similar to adding the url, except there is another tab alongside which is shaped like a paperclip. Simply click and drag or select an image from your computer to add.

Sending from Multiple accounts

The same process applies for messages being sent to Facebook, as it does for Twitter. You can also choose whether to send it from your own Facebook account or a page that you manage. And you can quickly send one promotion or link to Twitter and a different post to Facebook so that the same followers don’t keep receiving the same message.

Using Social Media to Follow Trends

As a business your use of social media is not just to promote your own business, although this is a common mistake many businesses make at the moment. Social media is an opportunity to engages with and build up your potential database of future customers. Establishing trust is one of the main purposes of social media, so that when you do recommend a product or advertise an event people will listen to you.

Establishing trust

One of the easiest ways in which to establish trust is to follow leading experts in the area and engage with them. Unfortunately Facebook have changed their rules (again!) and only allow group administrators to use social media platforms, however LinkedIn does permit it. So I can collect all the LinkedIn groups related to horses that I’m a member of, and set them out side by side the same as the accounts.

Then I can choose articles that seem relevant and as I read add a comment or connect with the writer. If this sounds like too much work then follow a site such as Equineblogireland or other industry blog sites that will be doing some of this work for you.

Even on Twitter take time to retweet an article or picture, it shows your followers that you are interested in them and this will help to build up a relationship.

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It’s not just Hootsuite that will be sending you this message, so will your followers and potential customers!!

 

Hootsuite Product

I have mentioned Hootsuite throughout this post because they are the platform that I currently use. You can check out the site by clicking the advert, or click on the Owl at the top of the page. There is a free option that lets you manage three accounts (each page is a separate account on Facebook) and you also have the option to try out their pro version for a free 30 day trial.
Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

 

So far I have found the site to be very useful and I’m not using all the options available, such as multi site users. Either way you have nothing to lose in trying it out and when time is important, this certainly saves you time and hassle.

Would love to hear any comments from people who have tried it or other social media platforms and what worked best for you.

Let me know how you get on or if you are using any other social media platforms, readers would love to hear your reviews.

Social Media for Equine Businesses – Twitter

Even for outdoor businesses such as the equine industry, the digital age is definitely well upon us now. Using social media has become a key part of any business marketing strategy and more people are accessing and making online purchases through mobile phones rather than computers.  But why use social media?

Advantages to Social Media

Unlike a website where the content doesn’t change very much, or offer any opportunity to interact with customers. With social media you can begin to intact with your potential customers in a different way. You can set up quizzes, offer competitions, encourage your own customers to market your products for you by sharing to their friends.

Image courtesy of https://www.marketingtechblog.com/2014-statistics-trends-businesses-social-media/
Image courtesy of https://www.marketingtechblog.com/2014-statistics-trends-businesses-social-media/

Another advantage to social media sites is that the content is always fresh and moving quickly, which means that people are constantly checking and rechecking their social media sites. Websites on the other hand will tend to get visited less frequently and only when the person wants to actually buy or is looking for something.

If you have a blog site attached to your website, and you are then using other social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook then this will help to ensure that your website stays highly ranked within Google. This means that you will be nearer or on the first page of the Google results for a search, meaning that more people will find your website when they do want to purchase something.

Equine Business Social Media Course

Over the course of the next few weeks I want to cover some of the most popular social media sites that equine businesses can use to support their online presence and increase their customer base.

You may think it’s difficult finding time to think about social media strategies and online marketing, but that needn’t be the case. As with all things once you are familiar with the basics and begin to see social media as a useful tool to enhance your business, then it can become a quick and easy process.

Using Twitter with your Equine Business

Twitter is perhaps one of the easiest tools for reaching a broad audience across the globe. Unlike Facebook or Linkedin, followers don’t have to know you and will  often just connect through shared posts.  Even if you already have a personal account on Twitter it is easy and straightforward to run a second account for your equine business.

Twitter_logo_blue
Twitter’s famous blue logo

This article from the social platform group Hootsuite gives a full detailed account of how to compose a Tweet that reaches a wider audience, but if you’re new to all this some of the basic points are covered below.

  • Insert your own message on the tweet if you are sharing an article or highlighting an offer on your web site. But make it shorter than the 140 characters Twitter limit, so that readers can add to and retweet the message to other people.
  • Add a shortened URL such as bit.ly or ow.ly. Read more information here on shortening URLs.
  • Use a hashtag # (e.g. #horses, #horsehealth), then if someone is putting in a general search it will pick up your tweet.
  • Add a picture, or a video to increase engagement and attract more interest.

So What Can I Tweet About?

The following infographic outlines 99 things that you can tweet about, and which potential customers may be interested in hearing from you.

Infographic 99 things to tweet about
Image found on softandapps.info

Following Others in the Equine Trade

Twitter is also about following others and provides an opportunity to network and find others working in your sector. Most of the big equine brands, horse magazines, and specialised horse products are all on twitter. This makes it an invaluable place to be to learn about emerging trends and new products in the industry. Other reasons for using a twitter account for your business are;

  • Many companies also use social media sites to give advance notice of upcoming offers and your business could do the same in order to bring in extra people to visit your website.
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The Equine industry is slowly being led into the digital marketing era. Image found on Pinterest
  • Linking you website to your Twitter account means that the website is always being updated and appears to be more active to Google.  Again this helps with rankings and being discovered in a search when people do want to purchase or find something.
  • Having a strong online presence is the same as advertising, the more people see your products and logo the more likely they are to visit and trust your site when they are looking for something. And that can only be a good thing!

And finally don’t forget to follow us at Equine Blog Ireland on Twitter