Are You Using Social Media to Build Your Brand?

(Originally posted for Cornerstone Advertising.)

Social Media is no longer just about selfies and life updates, but now it is a place where your business needs to be. As of July 2015, there was a total of 3.17 billion users on the Internet, with 2.3 billion active social media users…and that number is only growing larger. Ninety-one percent of bands are using more than one social media platform.

If you want to get your business in front of new customers, social media is the easiest way to aim your advertising to specific groups of people.

Why?

Social media is important for web traffic. You know that fancy website you just paid thousands for? Now you need to drive traffic to that website—share your knowledge, deals and products with the world. Well-placed social media posts can help drive traffic to your website.

Using social media helps boost your presence with search engines. You’ve heard about search engine optimization—it’s about how certain web pages are ranked on Google, Bing, etc. The programs used in ranking web pages knows what pages are consistently getting traffic and which don’t. And while you need to have a solid strategy for content and SEO, you need to drive traffic using social media to help garner more attention to those pages as well.

Social media is important for building relationships, and we’re not talking about the “it’s complicated” type. You can learn a lot about your customers by being active on social media. Twitter and Instagram allows for more insight into daily lives (their home, activities, lifestyle, etc.) and Facebook is a little more direct—after all, you can communicate in more than 140 characters on Facebook.

Users still see social media as a social network, not something streaming commercials/ads constantly, yet it does. A customer posts a review, and you respond, starting a conversation. Potential customers send a message on Facebook with a question, and you respond as you would over the phone. Using your social media posts and messages more as conversations with customers rather than ads builds trust and interest, thus driving traffic to the website.

Social media is important for brand loyalty. Users of social media want immediate satisfaction, that’s why you’ve seen an uptick in reviews posted on sites like Google and Facebook. This requires you to be more reactive—quick and sincere responses, and fast results.

Social media is important for level playing fields. So what if your biggest competition has a marketing budget 100 times your budget. When it comes to social media marketing, it’s a more level playing field—it’s all about how you approach your content sharing and your engagement. You need flexibility to be able to capitalize on the weather, local events, etc., and social media allows you to do that.

Social media is important for visibility. It brings your product and service to the forefront of customers who might not have ever known you were available. And vice versa—you’ll find customers that you didn’t know existed when you become active on social media.

And, finally, social media is important for the price. Sure, signing up for Facebook, Twitter, Houzz and Pinterest are all free, and posts are free (except for the boosted posts and paid advertising), and free is always good. But it does take time—time to monitor, time to gather content and time to interact. It will take someone dedicated to providing you the best social media presence, whether that’s in-house or by hiring an agency that’s used to handling everything, such as Cornerstone Advertising.

Without social media, your brand has only a slight existence online, no matter how awesome your website is. It’s time to start putting a little more emphasis on social media—it’s not just for selfies any more.

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Grand Generations: Passing Down the Love of the Quarter Horse

I’ll the first to admit that if it weren’t for my mother, I probably wouldn’t be a horsewoman. I also wouldn’t be into dog agility if it weren’t for my father and mother, and my mother’s mother… So many things that we get into are because of the generations before us. Which is why it was fun highlighting three different families where the grandparents have passed on their love of the American Quarter Horse to their grandchildren.

Families like the Cochranes, where Ken and Sandy (who are active within the AQHA) enjoy watching their two granddaughters show, especially Victoria, who has thrived despite her neurologic disorder thanks to riding and showing. CeCe Campbell and her granddaughter, Tailyr, share a horse and take on the hunt seat world. And then Vern and Rita Habighorts and their granddaughters Monica and Kaylee Hamm take on the halter world as a team.

grandkids

I invite you to learn more about how these families have worked to continue their love of horses, and the American Quarter Horse in the the August 2016 issue of the American Quarter Horse Journal.

Police K-9s: Partners in Duty & In Life

In the February/March 2017 issue of Western Horse & Gun Magazine, I had the privilege to highlight a relationship I have seen grow firsthand. Police K-9 teams undergo a lot of intense training, sometimes mores than typical police officer teams. Not only do they train themselves, but they have to train some of the most fearless, intense officers on squad–the K-9.

In this article, I highlighted the relationship between Sergeant Joey Mitchell with the Clinton County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Department and his canine partners, as well as Officer Erin Dean with Kirklin, Indiana.

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You can read more from Partners in Duty & in Life.

 

Fit Rider: Battling Hibernation

The cold has certainly set in here in the Midwest. It’s not even Christmas, and we’re battling frozen conditions everywhere, which means not much action happening outside.

Perfect timing, considering my FitRider column for Horse Illustrated‘s November issue was about how to battle the winter doldrums and the urge to hibernate, thanks to help from Andrea Otley, a self-professed former sugar addict, horse-crazy wife with three children, who has turned her life into a healthier, happier one while combining her passion of fitness and horses.

One of the best tips from Andrea was to see winter as a time to really go after your fitness goals, since you won’t be spending as much of your free time at the barn like you do during the summer.

Be sure to pick up the November issue of Horse Illustrated to read more tips. And get ready to tackle 2017 a healthier, happier rider!

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Scenes from the 2016 NRHA Futurity

Once again I had the opportunity to attend the National Reining Horse Association‘s marquee event: The NRHA Futurity & Adequan North American Affiliate Championships.

I was doing coverage of the NAAC for the NRHA Reiner, and, as always, the experiences did not disappoint.

Sometimes the Futurity isn't just about the horses. This 5-month-old Kangaroo joey is named Rosie Roo, and she was attending her first Futurity with her owner.

Sometimes the Futurity isn’t just about the horses. This 5-month-old Kangaroo joey is named Rosie Roo, and she was attending her first Futurity with her owner.

That moment when you hear, "THE SCORE...." during the Open Finals. Andrea Fappani won the Level 4 on Spooky Whiz with a 225.5.

That moment when you hear, “THE SCORE….” during the Open Finals. Andrea Fappani won the Level 4 on Spooky Whiz with a 225.5.

Just doing some daydreaming of my next reining horse....

Just doing some daydreaming of my next reining horse….

Casualties of the dirt

Casualties of the dirt

The final breath... The final "whoa".... The final slide... The Finals

The final breath…
The final “whoa”….
The final slide…
The Finals

7 Destinations for Hunting Heaven – Western Horse & Gun

Who says hunting has to be done with long days in the brush and long nights in an uncomfortable tent? Sometimes you want to just get away from it all, relax with five-star cuisine, Egyptian cotton sheets, and bring home a trophy for the wall in the process. Doesn’t sound like your typical hunting trip? I highlighted your not-so-typical hunting lodges for Western Horse & Gun‘s October/November 2016 issue.

These seven luxury hunting lodges are some of the best in the West, and you’ll want to plan your next hunting trip soon.

The seven lodges I highlighted were:
Three Forks Ranch (Savery, Wyoming)
Grey Cliffs Ranch (Three Forks, Montana)
Castle Valley Outdoors (Emery, Utah)
Flying B Ranch (Kamiah, Idaho)
Rough Creek Lodge & Resort (Glen Rose, Texas)
Paws Up (Greenbough, Montana)
Brush Creek (Saratoga, Wyoming)

Read more and plan your trip today! 7 Destinations for Hunting Heaven

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Behind the Stall Door: Extremely Hot Chips

October means it’s time for the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. It’s the mecca for anyone showing stock horse–thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the Ohio State Fairgrounds to show, shop, and just experience the world’s largest single-breed horse show.

While working on another article for The Equine Chronicle, I met Russ Louderbeck, a hotel architect that lived approximately 30 minutes from me. He’s the owner of an up-and-coming Western pleasure stallion, Extremely Hot Chips, and I wanted to share their story. I came out to his farm, Louderbeck Ranch, and met him and the handsome dark brown boy. Not only did I get to know both parties, Russ invited me to take a few laps on his prized stallion–Are you kidding me!? I hadn’t swung my leg over a well-trained Western pleasure horse in years, and it was so much fun! It says a lot about Chip’s personality and attitude to come straight out his stall and allow a stranger to ride without much of a warm-up.

Extremely Hot Chips

That’s why it’s fun to share this stallion’s story. Russ, a hobby horseman and breeder, will be showing Chip at Congress later this month in the Select Amateur Western Pleasure. Last year they finished in the Top 5, and he hopes to replicate, or do better, this year. All without campaigning or a professional trainer. Again, another testament to this wonderful stallion.

 

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Read the article from The Equine ChronicleBehind the Stall Door: Extremely Hot Chips