Going in to my last week blogging about the barns in Eugene, I’m deciding to do something a little different than the past nine weeks. As one of my assignments for the term was to tweet consistently about the topic, I made a recent realization that I never actually looked into how barns –in Eugene and in the area- use social media as a branding tool and even just to communicate with its riders. I knew Triple Rise Equestrian Center had a twitter, but how about the countless other barns? What were they tweeting about and who was following them? And beyond twitter, what other platforms were barns exploring in the digital world?
I decided to take a look into Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to cover a few bases of how barns might be using social media.
First off, barns haven’t covered much ground yet on Pinterest. Most of the pins that I filtered through showed images of singular horses or photos of riders jumping their horses in shows, but boards for a specific equestrian center were tricky to find. I also had to sift through all of the wedding pins that were tagged at various equestrian centers, but overall, horses on Pinterest are pinned for the photography aesthetic and for the purpose of selling horses.
Facebook is, by far, the most heavily used social media outlet by equestrian centers. Barns either have a website or a Facebook page (sometimes both) and use it to post event calendars, photos of the facilities, horses, and shows, and to communicate with its riders and community. It seems as though the pages are used to open discussions between barn and riders through photos, posts, and commenting. See the Facebook pages for Triple Rise Equestrian Center, Poseidon Stables, Oregon Horse Center, and Smooth Moves Equine to get a taste of how barns have transitioned to social media.
Much like Pinterest, barns also underuse Twitter as a social media platform. Triple Rise Equestrian Center is one of the only barns in the Eugene area to have a twitter feed, and even though there is a low level of activity of 14 tweets, they grasped the branding strategy with tweets specific to events at their barn.
The only other barns that I found with twitter accounts were racing stables that focused on live tweeting races and events. They weren’t local, but still good examples of twitter usage. Look to see The Gentle Barn and Pegasus Stables.
It appears that barns have ended their social media expansion at Facebook and haven’t fully explored other platforms. As far as I can tell, the halt at Facebook or a website is dependent on the trainer/owner of the barn’s interest in pursuing other platforms, or the answer could be as simple as social media not being a practical avenue for their clientele and business.
As a journalist, it’s hard to imagine social media as being anything but useful, but I’ve also only been around the barn beat for nine weeks so the answer might be more complex. Either way, barns on social media seems like unexplored territory; who knows what a Pinterest board or twitter account could do for a barn.