Monthly Archives: June 2013

From the Horse’s Mouth – HorseWorld’s winning way with Social Media

This blog post first appeared on my business’s website but is worth sharing here as it is a great example of a charity making a success of social media with limited capacity and budget.

patty the donkey painting

Patty - HorseWorld's painting donkey - was a Facebook hit

We’re delighted to see our client HorseWorld shortlisted for the Communicator of the Year award at the prestigious Bristol Post Business Awards next week.

It’s particularly pleasing for us as we’ve followed them through their journey with social media, from tentative first steps to it being a key part of their communications strategy.

We advise a lot of clients on social media strategy, but HorseWorld are one of those who have really grabbed the reins (pun intended!) and created something that we now use as an example in our social media workshops.

Like most clients, HorseWorld were a little unsure of how to approach social media when we first met them – and even whether to do it!

With a strong marketing team already getting results through existing channels and working flat out, there was the question of capacity – who would actually do it? – and also understandable caution at opening up public communication channels without the experience of managing it.

High percentages

They needn’t have worried – after taking the plunge, HorseWorld’s team have delivered a level of social engagement that puts many bigger organisations to shame.

As we tell all our clients, it’s not about the numbers – in two years they have gathered close to 4,500 Likes on Facebook, a good number but still plenty of room for growth.

What they are great at is turning those likes into conversations and actions that benefit the charity. The level of interaction is remarkable – at any one time, as many as a quarter of those Likers are actually active: talking to HorseWorld, sharing posts, having a conversation.

To put that in perspective – HorseWorld’s usual interaction rate is between 15-25%, compared with the Facebook average for even well-known brands (with huge social media budgets) of 1.4%.

In fact, while a rival horse charity has 5 times as many Likes, the level of active users they have is no higher than HorseWorld’s – and active users are really all that matters.

Managing conversations

Social media is not about marketing, it’s about managing conversations and turning those conversations into actions.

HorseWorld’s Facebook page has seen them re-home horses, increase visits to the point that they are almost at capacity, generate national press coverage – and even get one of their animals on Britain’s Got Talent!

They’ve done this with the same limited social media capacity that most charities have – and they’ve done it by not thinking about the technology or trying to come up with gimmicky ideas, but rather just by having that winning formula all conversations need in order to flow – “be interesting, be interested”.

They know their audience and share their passions, and they talk to them – it is simply people talking to people about stuff that interests them both. Sounds easy, but it takes a certain talent to pull it off as effectively as HorseWorld.

Their online community feels listened to, and knows their opinion is important and that the people at HorseWorld genuinely enjoy interacting with them.

HorseWorld MD Mark Owen told us: “Social media has helped HorseWorld establish a real-time two-way communications dialogue with our supporters from all over the world at extremely low-cost.

“We have been able to truly engage with the public and involve them in every step associated with our Charitable work of Rescuing, Rehabilitating and Rehoming Horses in need.

“We are also able to quickly garner options from our visitors, supporters and Equestrian enthusiasts about our work and the Equine Welfare sector in general – which is invaluable feedback when planning for the future.”

The Bristol Post Business Awards are being held on Wednesday 27th June.