Joining Up: Discover FaceBook/Social Communities

What are my interests (professional? personal?), who do I want to see and what do I want to learn about…today’s social community options are fun, informative and endless.

Signing up to join any community, usually involves giving up your email address or simply liking them on Facebook (FB).  When you find the right site don’t hesitate to sign up. Once that particular group’s “scoop of interest” shows up in your email or on your Facebook page, you’ll be reined in and ready to enjoy the view.

Let your friends and search engines be your guide to SM communities you may prefer.  For me, finding out the latest news on the National/International equine front is important, so I consider any leading organizations of my sport first.   A distinct few come to mind for the horse industry…Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), and American Horse Council. They are usually easy to find on Facebook by simply typing their name into the search box, then I just hit “like” to follow.

I also look for online horse communities to join just for fun. They are usually filled with pictures, videos and laughable tidbits of information.  For example, by searching for “social communities for horses” many sites come up.  I launch each community, visually scan it and then decide whether it is worth joining.  ihorsebook.com, barnmice.com, and iequine.com, are some of the more popular communities I’ve joined.

Extremely local social sites will most likely be discovered through your “daily” friends on Facebook.  For example I discovered and now follow one FB community that is only about buying and selling new and used horse blankets in NH.  No, really.  It has evolved a little bit into other horse equipment sales and general chatter, but 95% of the community discusses horse blankets, sheets and their availability.  Who doesn’t want to be in on a deal for a used horse blanket?

YOU can do the same with your preferred hobby, profession or sport. What are the largest organizations involved with your interest and/or what publications are affiliated with them?  Or, perform a search for “social communities for ______________ “? These are great questions to ask, to help find a variety of communities special to you.

Everyone wants to know about you and not necessarily because they care about you.  Social Media (SM) data collection is a critical part of keeping the groundswell active, engaged and in the black.  Data is collected, analyzed and in some instances sold for serious money to companies/organizations looking to sell something back to you, your friends or their associates.  Keep this in mind when and where you sign up.  Here is just one short story to help confirm this thinking.  As a data gatherer/seller, Spokeo was fined this past June (2102) by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating user rights. According to the Federal Trade Commission Spokeo engaged in its illegal activities from 2008 to 2010. The agency says Spokeo sold “coherent people profiles” that contained income, home worth, marital status, ethnicity and other information. So please be selective with your community/site choices and carefully consider what information you provide.

Most sites that have a sign in/registration panel, also provide a disclaimer/privacy policy about what they do with your personal/company’s data or what is displayed online. Finding it (disclaimer) may be hard but if you can, search it out and read it (sample policy). Then decide if you want to sign up.  Also, if a community doesn’t ask for certain personal details, don’t offer. (e.g. only fill in the required places with the asterisk).  If they require a password, consider changing up your passwords/user names between different groups/sites.  Lastly, record your selected community(s) passwords/user names off-line in a diary of some sort…did I say off-line? Yes, and in a non-communal place.

With enthusiasm…search, select, review, carefully consider and join up.  With some in-depth research and reflection, you’ll find the right social community fit…just like determining the proper fit of a foal’s blanket.

Selling Your Horse…Now and Then.

I don’t have time for him anymore.

I have too many of them.

I’ve outgrown him.

I can’t afford him.

These are just a few of the many reasons fellow private equestrians finally decide to sell their horse.  In the past, traditional/print media was the only option to advertise your “Horse for Sale.”  Local newspapers, regional/national equine publications and newsletters of equine/horse organizations were the best locations to place your listing but with it meant costly insertion fees (even for a classified). Although traditional advertising is still used, Social Media has drastically changed how “horses for sale” are listed, viewed and ultimately sold.

So, you’ve decided to sell “Buddy.”  You gather his stats, take some pictures, shoot a video and start your campaign.

Writing his ad. Be completely honest about Buddy or any other horse you’re selling. Include his required equine stats (age, sex, height, breed, color/markings, etc.) and any other pertinent facts. Describe his personality and recommend to the potential buyer who and what career he would best fit. You can include his price if preferred but today with online sales occurring nationally, his physical location is also a must.  For Sale: “Buddy” 9 yr old gelding,15.2 hand, Quarterhorse (has papers), bay with white star.  Nice mover, safe with kids, proven Hunter-Jumper show ring veteran. Excellent on trail too. Buddy excels with young riders over fences. He is UTD on shots and has No vices. Asking $4,500 and he lives in Concord, NH.

Take Buddy pictures to share. Bathe and groom Buddy until he shines. Properly stand him up, (in a bridle or nice halter) and photograph some details as well as his overall body.  You may not use them all, but while he is polished, it is a perfect time to create a small group of images (saddle/harness on or off) from which to pull (e.g. Head/face, front, rear, near (left) side, off (right) side).

Create Buddy’s online video. More importantly nowadays is the creation of Buddy’s video. Up until just a few years ago, filming your horse was a laborious venture, that may have involved the hiring of a  video-photographer or a friend with a film based video camera.  Video editing/duplicating was limited, costly and time-consuming. So you snail-mailed the precious video back and forth to prospective buyers basically “as is.”

However, with today’s hand-held/digital technology that process has become extremely efficient. Videos can be taken and retaken at will, deleted, edited and with very little expertise. This could be a liability unless you have a plan before taking your video. Decide what imagery would best help sell Buddy and then gather help (e.g. a rider) as needed. Include highlights first and then if time/space allows add other video tidbits buyers may find of general interest. For example, properly stand up Buddy and walk around him with the camera…then record all his gaits in each direction (coming and going too) and most importantly his walk. Then capture him enjoying his discipline of choice and/or something to portray his personality.

When editing the final video, keep each segment as short as possible but without compromising Buddy’s story/sales pitch. Did you know YouTube offers video editing?  Without worrying about file formats, you can combine videos, trim their lengths, add a sound track and customize the whole video with special tools and effects on YouTube (a must-have location for his video). The average video length on YouTube is 4+ minutes (Sysomos.com, 2010).  Keep this in mind because interested buyers want to see your horse but not its life story.  Open up a YouTube account (if you don’t have one) and upload/edit his video.  You can then link to his video’s URL from any other ad placement online or share it from YouTube.

An important note about your image background/lighting. Whether photographing or videotaping any horse, please make a note of the background and available light.  This is very important. The background should be simple and free of “stuff.”  You want to highlight the subject matter (aka Buddy) and not have it get lost.  A good presentation and first impressions go a long way, so avoid multiple fence lines (horizontal rails), indoor arenas (vertical boards/metal) out-buildings, vehicles, etc.  Try to locate your horse in a field or some place outside (best light option) with a simple unified back drop unless showing him over fences where a ring/indoor are required.  Check out Crystal’s sample photographs and further photo tips at Rideandsee.com.

Today advertising a “horse of sale” is easy, costs very little and most online placements are free.  Now that you have your Buddy sales materials readied…1). Research your best placement options, 2). Prioritize your list of options (use this to eventually keep track of your placements/responses), 3). place Buddy’s materials accordingly and; 4). Follow up on all leads.

Sample ad: http://www.equinenow.com/horse-ad-644059

Photo Source: Horsebreedsinfo.org