Twitter is a social media channel that takes time to warm up. With some consistent effort, it will position your equestrian centre as a local community asset and raise your profile Nationally.
A great Twitter account will also attractive to funders, they will see you are engaged and connected to your customer base, giving them confidence you will be a good investment.
So far on my travels around Twitter I have found just over 100 riding schools with Twitter accounts. There are a few people who are rocking it, but the majority of accounts are inactive.
So I thought I would round up some top tips for you to put in place to help you get started or ramp up your reputation.
1. Set up a professional image
Make sure you have some professional photos on your Twitter account. I think an image with a logo in the corner works best as a profile picture, it gives a more personal feel. Which is what I have chosen for mine. But you could use just a logo. This smaller box is what people are going to see regularly when they tweet.
Users rarely come back to your profile page once they follow you. This means they may not see the larger graphic header again. Your header should promote an upcoming event or the key benefits of your riding centre. This is what will entice people to follow you. A nice team shot with your horses, in a tidy yard can be a friendly welcome!
If you are not great at designing graphics go to Canva and set up a free account. They have templates to create headers for all social channels. It makes graphic design a snitch and very professional looking. All you need to do is upload photos, drag and drop them and add some call to action text. Hey presto!
2. Create an audience
When you first set up Twitter, it will ask who you want to follow. These suggestions are so generic. So tailor your account and stick with me, working through my suggestions below.
Tweeters local to you
- Your local visitor attractions – such as NT properties, bowling alleys, cinema, family farms
- Local large employers
- Local Business Networks – such as Women in Business, BNI, WiRE.
- Local Community Groups – WI groups, churches, Girl Guiding.
- Local newspapers, magazine and radio stations
- Schools & Nursery’s – Most large private schools have Twitter
- Charities – such as RDA groups or others that may like to come for horse therapy
- Care Homes – they have a budget for therapy sessions too
- Café’s, restaurants, pubs nearby you
- Campsites, B&Bs, Hotels nearby
- Home schooling networks – encourage daytime business
- Local Authority and Local Councillors
- Local Police, rural crime
- Your Local County Sport Partnership – see my list to locate yours
- Your suppliers – Vets, feed merchants, farrier, dentist, physio, tack shop, builder, Me @EquestrianHQ 🙂
- The equestrian bodies – BHS, ABRS, The Pony Club, RDA, YELA, specific disciplines & Grooms Association.
- Sport England, Sports Coach UK, Youth Sport Trust.
- National Trust
- Country Land & Business Association (CLA)
See my lists on twitter to save you some time.
Personal to you
Get your passion and personality into your Twitter feed so people can get to know you better, and learn about what you stand for. Find some people on twitter who share your interests. By commenting and sharing (Retweeting) their tweets, followers will build a picture of what makes you tick.
Apart from promoting grassroots equestrian, I am interested in dyslexia, anti-bullying, supporting girls, rural business, spirituality, yoga, mindset and coaching. So have a think about yourself and your staff’s interest and get following some inspirational people.
When someone is choosing to follow you they will look at your most recent tweets. So make sure your personality is coming across.
It can be easier to visit the website of the person or organisation you want to follow. Check if they have a twitter logo on their site and click through to follow them on Twitter.
The aim is to get these people to follow you back – so you have a reciprocal relationship.
As you start following people keep them organised into lists. You can do this by clicking on the gear icon next to the follow button. This comes in handy when you want to target a tweet to a particular group say schools.
As you grow, having the key people you want to influence organised in lists, makes it easy to plan who to @mention in a tweet. Mentioning them means they will see it when they next go to Twitter. Do this by using the @ symbol and type in their username in the box to create your tweet. Once these people follow you back you can also send them all a direct message. Just like an email but through Twitter.
Check out my lists on Twitter to get a feel for what I am talking about.
If you don’t understand how to use #hastags yet, you will after this. They are for having conversations with like-minded people. They allow other people to find you, who want to discuss the same topic or event on Twitter.
There are #hastags to use at certain times.
#hashtags for equestrians
#horsehour 8pm – 9pm Monday
#equestrianhour 8pm – 9pm Wednesday
#riderhour 8pm – 9pm Thursday
#horsebizhour 4-5pm Friday
These are great for keeping up with news and thoughts in the industry, and getting new ideas. You can also encourage your riders to join in the conversation posting pictures of themselves using the #hastags.
#hashtags for local people
In order to have conversations with local people, research #hastags for your local town/county/region. I’ve given some examples:
#HarrogateHour – 8-9pm Monday
#SussexHour – 8:30-9:30pm Thursday
#WMidsHour – 8-9 Monday
#hastags for campaigns
The other use of #hashtags are campaigns. You can them to promote relevant pictures and information. If you add one it’s more likely to get seen and retweeted by the campaign managers:
#thisgirlcan – showcase image of women achieving – Managed by Sport England
#TwoHearts – showcase the connection between horses and rider – Managed by FEI
#TogetherWeWill – disability sport – Managed by English Federation of Disability Sport
#hastags for awareness days
It’s also great to engage with national awareness days. Follow @Awareness_Days once following them click on “Turn on mobile notifications”. This will notify you every time they tweet about an upcoming awareness day. This can trigger you to upload something relevant.
For example, it’s recently been #worldmentalhealthday. There is so much you can mention about the benefits of horses! Or #NationalRoadSafetyDay again so much to say on this! But a more random example is #NoBraDay have a joke around how riders would be mad to do this! Bouncy Bouncy!! But it does not stop them from checking for breast lumps. #BlueMonday is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year! So post a positive picture of your customers out on a hack beating the blues!
#hashtags for media
You may also see a horse on the TV. The TV show or channel will have a #hashtag if you look them up. You can then comment on what you have just seen with other people.
5. Twitter Promotions
If you are promoting a discount or open day, create it as a graphic. Head back over to Canva again. This will automatically size it for a twitter post. Which is a different size to the twitter header graphic I mentioned earlier.
This graphic below literally took me 2 minutes to create in Canva, you can change the colours to match your brand too!
6. Engaging your clients
Have engaging signage around the yard to encourage your customers to take pictures of themselves having fun. Display your social media handles e.g. @RidinginSussex on the signage, so they can find you quickly in that moment. Offer rewards when they share them on Twitter and @mention you/tag you. Turn it into a competition and give away a free t-shirt for the best pictures each month.
7. Build relationships with your key stakeholders
Makes sure you fully interact with the people you want to influence. If you want your local pub to refer clients to you. Don’t just Tweet your own stuff! Retweet their content, and they will likely to do the same in return. If you are posting news or special offers that may appeal to their customers, tag them in your tweets too and ask them for retweets (RT).
Every Friday, thank your new followers. You can use the #FF (Follow Friday Tag). This shows your support for others and helps them to grow their follower base. It makes it more likely they will help you in the future.
8. Promote your account on your website and Facebook
Remember to add a link to your twitter account on your website, so people who are visiting can see it clearly. They may not be ready to ride with you yet or may want to get a feel for the yard before the commit to booking a lesson. Following you is a god way to check you out.
Also mention your twitter account on your Facebook. But please don’t be lazy and link you Facebook posts to twitter. You think it will save you time…but they never fit into the 140 characters you have available on twitter. It only frustrates people who use twitter well.
You can download your social media icons from sites like this and find a style that fits with your website. Also, add your social icons to printed literature and email footers for maximum exposure.
I really hope this has helped you kick-start your Twitter strategy. Let me know by commenting below with your thoughts.