Running your own business - whether that’s a livery yard, a riding school, a competition venue, a training facility, a trainer, a breeder or a competitor - Social Media is an invaluable tool if you know how to use it properly. Using it in the wrong way can have the exact opposite affect to what you're trying to achieve so making sure you know the Do's and Don'ts is very important.
It seems strange to think there was ever a time when social media wasn’t an integral part of growing a small business. While many business owners still struggle with how to best use social media to engage with their audiences and promote their businesses, it’s fair to say that at least now most business owners understand that interacting on Social Media is a critical part of their marketing strategy. Since the appearance of the first platforms like MySpace in the mid noughties things have progressed to a point where 70% of Irish businesses are marketing themselves online.
Recent statistics are evidence enough that not having your business visible on Social Media is a catastrophic mistake. If done correctly the opportunity is there to reach a wider target audience than you could ever hope to achieve with traditional marketing efforts. But doing it and doing it the right way are worlds apart and we've all seen business pages that could definitely use a little guidance to maximise their return.
The research from 2015 identified how Irish people are behaving online and while the data is broad ranging I have condensed it down to the areas that make most sense in the equestrian community.
There are 2.4 million Irish people using Facebook each month, the majority of whom are logging in while on the move via mobile . If that isn’t reason enough to adopt a tailored and tactical approach to your presence on Facebook, perhaps some of these stats are worth noting.
1.8 million Irish People use Facebook every single day
70% of Irish Businesses are on Facebook.
So what does this mean to you? For starters it means Facebook provides one of the most readily available and accessible audiences in Ireland with a varied demographic. If you are one of the 30% of Irish businesses who are not on Facebook you need to consider the opportunities you are missing out on. And if you are among the 70% who do have a presence on Facebook are you using it as effectively as you could be? Socially savvy entrepreneurs know that it’s all about engaging the right audiences with valuable content. The online community has little tolerance for self-promoters who view social media as a means to free advertising. Given this, small-business owners face a challenge when it comes to striking a balance between self promotion and adding value and creating interest.
Twitter is the second most popular social network in Ireland in terms of regular usage and communication. It is a more communicative and open forum than Facebook so it presents a real opportunity to get to know your audience and to engage with them on a different level.
Approximately 700,000 people logging on to Twitter every day in Ireland.
As a country we send 1 million tweets per day.
While the number of daily users is significantly lower than that of Facebook the impact these users have is more notable. Facebook is considered a private space for most, while the majority of Twitter users are more comfortable with sharing opinions and interacting with brands. This is where debate can begin and end and tailoring your posts to create conversation can bring a lot of attention – just make sure it’s for the right reasons.
YouTube has been a Godsend for the equestrian market. It is a great way to reach out to potential customers by giving them a visual of what you are offering before they ever need to leave their house. Whether you’re a breeder, a trainer, a livery yard owner or a sales yard, having well-constructed videos of your product can make a huge difference to your success. Some stats you might be interested in.
77% of Irish YouTube users access the site at least once a week.
1 in 3 people spend as much time watching YouTube as they do TV
Of course there is more to social media than just those three sites. However, just because they exist doesn’t mean you will gain any value for having a presence on them. I would recommend you carefully consider your audience before committing to the fringe social networks.
Only 22% of the population has a Snapchat account
24% of Irish people are on LinkedIn.
15% of the population is on Pinterest.
18% of Irish people use Instagram with 43% using it every day.
And finally, the most important statistic:
Almost 70% of Irish Social Media users follow brands and businesses on Social Media. This means that there are huge opportunities to connect with and learn about your audience.
So what is the lesson here. People are looking online to help them make decisions about products or services. It’s quick access to information which helps them make informed decisions. What they see about your product or service online will determine whether they put any further research into your business.
This leads nicely to the topic for my next Blog - Developing Your Brand! Watch Out For It in the next couple of weeks.....