Farming

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a quick-fire guide to social networking FOR THE LESS TECH-SAVVY breeders

County Down man Liam Killen is the founder of the Equestrian Creative Network, a global directory and news site for the creative side of the horse world, and director of the Equestrian Social Media Awards.

If you can use a computer or smartphone (pictured right) but have little or no experience of how social media works or can be used to the benefit of your business, here are his pearls of wisdom.

"The various social networking sites require varying levels of technical knowledge. However, for the most part you can get a great deal out of them without being a techie whizz-kid," he says.

"The three I recommend for ease-of-use, results and level of equestrian use are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube."

FACEBOOK

Facebook has the largest following of any general networking site, and is by far the most user friendly.

By 'general networking' we mean sites where people create a profile, add information about themselves, add photos, join networks (eg schools and clubs), and invite their friends to do the same.

With Facebook you can add images, videos, testimonials, status updates and links.

This is a great form of viral marketing because once someone has joined your business' page they can invite their friends to join and share your content with their networks.

TWITTER

Twitter is a stripped-down version of Facebook. It lets users add status updates, consisting of no more than 140 characters called 'Tweets'.

Twitter may not be for everyone, but for a targeted niche like equestrian businesses, it's got massive potential.

The majority of equestrian organisations use it to keep people updated on competition dates, new developments and promotions.

It's a really simple format, but do not underestimate the power of Twitter, it's one of the fastest growing social networking sites for business-to-business interaction.

YOUTUBE

YouTube lets users view, upload and share video clips and has become a formidable force on the web. YouTube is great for video blogging, demos and showcasing your horses for sale.

You can embed YouTube videos into your website, keeping your hosting costs down and enable cross-marketing. You can effectively create your own TV channel.

The first rule of feeding horses also applies to social media: little and often. The whole idea of social networking is to keep your endeavours updated to ensure your followers are kept interested and to attract new followers.

This is where the potential for 'buzz' occurs around your brand. This can lead to many linking to your site and spreading the word.

IMPACT

You can measure the impact of social media on your site's traffic by linking up to Google Analytics.

This generates a number of really clever reports letting you know how many times your site has been visited, how they got to your website (directly, via search engines or referrals), how long they stayed on your site, which pages they viewed and their location.

Irish Independent