Part of my full-time job as a public relations consultant involves assisting companies with their social media PR. I have seen some fantastic results- including huge leaps in website traffic, increases in sales (both on and offline) and some businesses have even managed to break into other international markets as a result of raised global awareness.

I would fully recommend getting out there and creating an online voice for yourself. People will be chatting about you anyway so it makes sense to be part of the conversation. And if they aren't chatting about you...well, that means they don't know who you are and that's something that needs rectifying! Here are a few quick tips courtesy of moi for anyone wishing to give social media a go:

1) Firstly....I see a lot of NZ equestrian businesses running competitions through Facebook. Please please bear in mind that Facebook has very strict competition rules (check them out here). If you run a contest based on fans joining your page, tagging a photo or if you use your Facebook page to announce or contact winners of your competitions, Facebook will ban you and remove the page. If you would like to run a competition, host it on Twitter (MUCH less strict) or your website and link it to Facebook. You will get the same benefits re: brand awareness but without running the risk of losing all your hard work building your Facebook page.

2) Make sure you post on Facebook at least once a day. There is nothing worse than a stagnant profile that hasn't been updated for five months...People that stumble across it will just assume you don't do anything or you've gone into liquidation or something!

At the same time....don't post too much on Facebook...People can only tolerate a certain number of updates before you become the spammer and they start blocking you. Unless a special event is going on or the page is unusually active (questions etc), I would limit to five posts, spread out over the day. Twitter moves so fast that there is really no cap on number of posts. Just make sure you don't repeat the same thing over and over as that gets old very quickly....

3) Keep on top of spammers. They do hit Facebook and blogs and if you don't keep on top of it things can get out of control fairly quickly. It does not create a good first impression.

4) Social media is more casual than writing a letter or communicating through other marketing tools. Keep the tone of voice friendly, genuine and personal- don't try too hard. Visitors will want to feel like they are conversing with an actual person, not a robot.

5) Answer questions. Be on hand to answer any queries. Facebook and Twitter can form a great part of your customer service repertoire. However, remember that if questions are asked and you don't regularly check on your social media portals to answer them it can reflect badly on the company. It looks like you don't care.

6) Don't just post details about your company. Don't be tooooo self-promotional. Develop a valuable resource that people will keep going back to because it provides useful equestrian information. Of course, let them know when you have an exciting new product, a special deal or when something interesting has happened with the business, but also give them horsey advice and share relevant equestrian news and info.

7) Encourage people to interact with the brand. Don't simply talk at people- invite them to contribute as well. Ask for results, news, opinions on your products etc etc- be creative. That way you will create a vibrant online equestrian community- rather than a static page where you talk about yourself (boring!!)

8) Check your spelling. Bad spelling and grammatical errors = highly unprofessional (I've even noticed a few proofing this so it happens to all of us if we're writing too quickly!)

9) Have a look at some succesful Facebook/Twitter profiles and learn from what they do and how they interact with their followers. Here are some good ones: Supreme Products Facebook, Show Circuit Magazine Facebook, Show Circuit Magazine Twitter, Equine Trader Facebook, Equine Trader Twitter, Horse & Hound Facebook, Tack Shop NZ Facebook and Abbeyview Equine Twitter.

There are many, many more things I could add but those that I have mentioned are a good starting point. If you're after any additional advice, feel free to drop me a line at and I'll do my best to help you out :)


As you can see, I have decided to ressurect my New Zealand Horse Tales blog! I've missed sharing my horsey ramblings with anyone bored enough to swing by for a visit.

So, I have taken a big broom and cleared out all the weirdo spammers (why people why? What is the point of leaving nonsensical rubbish underneath posts on an equestrian blog?) and I'm ready to roll. As you will know if you read the blog last year, it's mainly showing focused although I have an interest in equestrianism as a whole, so will touch on other sports and topics from time to time.

If you want to follow me on Twitter as well, search for @showringtips. Also, feel free to befriend me on Facebook if you so wish. I will accept your request if you look sane enough. Search for Jennifer Boyes.

2011 Equestrian Social Media Awards:

I think these are such a fantastic idea. I think it's about time those in the equestrian industry that are embracing social media are recognised. Three New Zealand representatives have made it into the finals: Show Circuit Magazine (Best Social Media Newcomer), Mark Todd (Best Use of Social Media by a Professional Rider) and The Mark Todd Collection (Best Use of Social Media by a Brand).

You can vote here and also follow ESMA on Facebook. Voting closes at 1pm GMT on 18th February 2011.