In this modern day and age of advanced technology, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and email, most of us have become so connected that our lives start to appear like an open book. I’m on the side of those who say, “It’s a good thing.” But I know many of you share a different feeling about “baring one’s soul” in such a public forum.
So, there you have the two sides of opinion on social media. One is positive and enables you to project thoughts and feelings concerning events occurring in your life or business. Your news or perspective is received immediately and feedback returns quickly. Thanks to social media, you now have the ability to promote commerce, your business or sell your product or services instantaneously at a very low cost (or even free). All of this happens without waiting for phone calls to be made, in-person visits to occur, print to be received or word of mouth to happen. All in all, I think these are good things.
Conversely, some folks believe social media has crossed personal and professional barriers that shouldn’t have been compromised. That’s a valid point, at least in some situations. Do you relay your message too often? Do you clog the screen with nonsense or expose your life with sensitive issues that should only be shared with a more intimate group of friends? Those are turn-offs, because some subjects really are delicate, too personal or are simply nobody else’s business. This is especially true for those who vent their anger via social media – talk about a horrible way to experience, blow-by-blow, someone else’s divorce or disagreement. Just because you can send a message to all your “friends” instantaneously, doesn’t mean you should! The best messages – the ones I enjoy most – are interesting, impactful or to elicit an intelligent response. Humorous postings are always good if they are done in proper form and taste. We all enjoy a laugh, some cheer and levity!
As for the horse business, the real value of social media is that it allows you to stay connected with and communicate directly to others who are interested or vested in your life, business or industry. In under a minute, you can broadcast anything you want to a very broad audience – or at least as broad as you want it to be. Sometimes your message might be personal; other times your posting could be business- or association-related. There’s no doubt, social media is a powerful and fast communication tool. Its ultimate outcome just depends on how you use that awesome ability. Just a few words, maybe a photo and “click,” your message is conveyed far and wide, at no cost other than perhaps an Internet connection. This is so easy that it’s possible to forget the communicative power we have at our fingertips.
Some believe that social media is all about people posting vacation timelines, baby pictures and their latest hairstyles. I see those kinds of messages every day. But I also recognize that those same kinds of messages can be harnessed, so to speak. Perhaps that “vacation timeline” is a trainer’s updates from a show where he promotes his successes along with those of his customers. Or it could be baby pictures of all those wonderful foals we’re seeing right now, or a stallion’s offspring winning in the show pen. We all like hearing the latest from the industry – everything from news concerning friends, business issues or how great someone looked at the show the other day. (Admit it, we even like hearing some of the gossip.)
How does that benefit you? It puts you in the loop! If there’s news, you can bet it’s going to be on social media within minutes (or seconds) of it happening. Plus, it’s enlightening to read all the comments in order to get perspective. There’s no doubt that your keeping up with the latest information enables you to make more timely decisions, and that might even benefit your business or equine interests. Granted, there’s a lot of trivial information out there on social media and there’s some sifting you have to do. But there’s also as much – if not more – productive information that you can use to your benefit. You select your “likes” (or “unlikes”) and your “friends,” so you do have some degree of control over what information crosses your screen.
I think we are fast approaching the time when all or most of the information we receive will be via the Internet. I’ve talked with people who no longer subscribe to horse magazines and instead receive information via the Internet. But then again, there are some people who don’t know how to open an email box, let alone scroll through their latest Facebook posts – assuming they even have an account. There is still a bit of “old fashion” in my soul that wants to receive information in print. I still enjoy reading the newspaper or magazine, looking at the pictures of horses and reading accounts of their accomplishments. I like actually being able to read and then turn a page.
That being said, I do enjoy social media and I use it a lot. For me, it’s pleasant to stay in constant touch with family/friends and it’s been comforting in tough circumstances. There are times when you really can feel the love and caring of people who might not otherwise have known about a bad situation or a death in the family. I am so thankful for those bonds the Internet has made possible. If you haven’t tried it or you have ideas that it all is negative, I encourage you at least take a look and give it a chance. I think you might be pleasantly surprised!
As always, I remain,