Social media has become an ever-growing, powerful force that can improve an image, captivate an audience, and create awareness for a cause.
Learning how to use social media to boost public knowledge of aftercare facilities was one of the themes on the second and final day of a professional education seminar offered by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
During the Oct. 19 session at Keeneland, Penelope Miller, who was recently hired as the NTRA’s social media manager, outlined the basic concepts of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and described how each could be used to solicit support.
In regard to Facebook, where a reported 34% of users have an annual income of $25,000-$50,000 and 30% make between $51,000-$75,000, there is a real market for garnering new supporters by creating a fan page for an aftercare facility.
“Always make posts short and to the point on Facebook, though, and then link back to your website,” Miller said.
Miller suggested that an aftercare facility’s Facebook page be updated regularly with brief descriptions of upcoming events and plenty of visual elements for viewers.
“Tell personal stories about the horses at your facility and utilize photos and video to show fans what you’re doing,” said Miller, who stressed the importance of every aftercare facility having a “find us on Facebook” link on its website.
Twitter, a “micro-blogging” resource that allows users to send and read text-based posts of 140 characters or less, is also a popular method for communicating with people that are involved with or fans of the horse industry.
Aftercare facilities can use Twitter to send instant messages out to all of their “followers,” encouraging them to check their organization’s website or Facebook page for special updates. Miller said Twitter creates a prime opportunity for aftercare facilities to address specific needs and provide ways for followers to support them.
“Twitter is more of a ‘die-hard industry crowd,’ ” Miller said. “It’s usually an older, well-educated audience that is involved with the industry.”
Miller also suggested using hashtags--the # symbol--on Twitter to build a search engine for the subject one wants to address. For example, if an aftercare facility is sending a tweet about an off-the-track Thoroughbred, they may want to use the hashtag #OTTB.
Using the “@” symbol followed by another person or media organization’s Twitter name is a way to alert them to a particular subject or event.
Other ways to create exposure for aftercare facilities on Twitter include linking to relevant videos and photos, and “re-tweeting” another person’s post about a related subject to help build a relationship without being too invasive.
Finally, Miller said the video-sharing website YouTube is a yet another tool for aftercare facilities to showcase their best assets.
“YouTube is a great way to show fans, prospective adopters, volunteers, and sponsors the day-to-day activities of your organization,” Miller said.