Social Media is Changing the Game for Professional Equestrians and the Companies That Sponsor Them

Social Media is often referred to as word of mouth on steroids – but when it comes to the equestrian community, it’s a heck of a lot more than that. Social media is changing the playing field for both professional equestrians and the equestrian companies that sponsor them.

There are three main reasons equestrian companies typically sponsor riders as part of their marketing strategy. But, there are four reasons why social media is making rider sponsorship an even more attractive choice for equestrian companies to consider.

1. Brand Positioning
The equestrian niche is huge but it is also incredibly diverse. Sponsoring successful riders within a particular discipline or breed helps a company to position products and services within a specific segment of the equestrian niche. For example: A supplement company with a fairly high price point might sponsor a top show jumping or dressage rider in order to position their company within a target market that can afford to purchase their products, whereas a horse shampoo manufacturer may want to target the massive “backyard horse” market by affiliating themselves with a popular horsemanship guru.

The Effect of Social Media
The way that social media sites help users grow meaningful networks is by matching interests. This means that a successful professional equestrian with a solid social media presence will have a following that naturally matches his or her specific niche within the equestrian community.

Instead of the fragmented nature of the equestrian community being a negative for equestrian related business owners – social media makes rider sponsorship a positive and effective way for a company to position itself more accurately within the equestrian niche.

2. Consumer Trust
The second reason a company might sponsor a particular rider is to build trust in their product or service. In this case, an elite rider or well known professional equestrian essentially endorses the product as a meaningful part of their success. Ideally, equestrian consumers both respect the rider’s opinion and associate the rider’s success with the brand.

Additionally, since many horse owners entrust their horses care and well being to a professional, buying decisions are heavily influenced by the professional’s opinion. When a new company builds trust in the professional sector first, their brand can gain extra traction in the marketplace.

The Effect of Social Media
For equestrian companies, this means that, Equestrian B2B relationships (i.e. professional equestrian to equestrian niche company) are critical for success. Facebook Pages make building B2B relationships easier and far more efficient than ever before. Equestrian companies and professional equestrians now have a central meeting place. Instead of having to hunt each other down at competitions or searching for contact information online, equestrian businesses (who have a well constructed social media network) can connect on Facebook within seconds.

This provides an essential sounding board where all parties can gain valuable feedback. The transparency that social media creates helps equestrian businesses build more meaningful relationships in the equestrian community as a whole. This occurs both directly between the parties and indirectly through those who observe the conversation.

3. Exposure and Publicity
The third reason an equestrian company may choose to sponsor a rider is to gain exposure and publicity. Traditionally, this benefit has often been discounted. True, companies gain some exposure at the competitions through banners on stalls and riders and horses sporting logo wear. However, unless one of their riders wins a big class and the company gains increased publicity through media coverage, this type of exposure was typically limited to a relatively small audience.

The Effect of Social Media
Social Media provides up-to-the-minute news channels for businesses. Sponsored riders bring equestrian companies closer to the action and provide “post worthy” news. This tends to make a company’s Facebook Page and Twitter feed far more attractive, engaging and interesting to their followers.

Plus, some riders have larger followings than the brands themselves. When a sponsored rider has a particularly large social media following, sponsorship can invite equestrian companies into “conversations” that were previously inaccessible. It can give companies a far more direct line of communication to the consumer.

4. It’s Measurable
It used to be that companies couldn’t really measure the effectiveness of their rider sponsorships. Riders had a hard time quantifying their value to sponsors and equestrian companies had a hard time justifying the expense to CFOs.

The Effect of Social Media
Social media makes it possible for both parties to establish value and measure results.
Fans on Facebook, YouTube video views, and Twitter followers are all quantifiable. Social Media enables riders and companies to “prove” their sphere of influence.

The lack of spectators and media exposure that equestrian sports have garnered (especially in the USA,) made professional equestrian athletes unlikely choices for mainstream brands. However, with the popularity of equestrianism on social media, we could see this start to change.

Check out this Facebook post from equine wellness company Arenus. It was only “live” for 8 minutes. Note the social reach on behalf of the equestrian professional and the companies involved.

Not only does Social Media provide new opportunities for equestrian companies and professional equestrian athletes to work together, it can build interest in the equestrian community as a whole.

To learn more about how social media can benefit your equestrian business or career, check out Equestrian Professional’s Social Media Guides and be sure to register early for our next Equestrian Social Media Boot Camp!