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Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club Social Media Proposal 2014

Leah Markum


Background “The Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club was founded in 2005 by a small

group of dressage enthusiasts spread throughout Northwest Arkansas. We have held several shows, clinics, workshops, and events and hope to continue to do so in the future. This club was founded to enhance the sport of dressage in Northwest Arkansas and encourage participation and education for everyone no matter the skill level of the horse or rider. --nwadressage.wordpress.com

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urrently, Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club runs a Wordpress website. This website hosts information including: • • • • • • • • • •

the club’s contact information and backgrounder current calendar of events all the available awards and recognized member achievements classifieds meeting dates and locations a listing of member commercial barns and riding instructors general news submitted by members membership forms a photography gallery guidelines for sponsored shows and clinics.

The club also runs a closed group on Facebook. This is their only social media presence. They list the group as closed, and therefore a potential Facebook group member has to request membership to the group. However, this is not equivalent to club membership. This form of social media can be a mild form of reaching out to potential club members. There is no active social media to communicate the presence of and events associated with the club to potential club members, or even existing members that do not realize there is a Facebook group, as the main website does not promote the Facebook group’s existence. In addition, the club needs more members and participants. On any given year it is not unusual for sponsored shows and clinics to be cancelled because the number of participants does not cover the cost of the event. For this reason alone, social media can be a solid and cheap means of attracting more paying members and participants. Even if the social media consumers do not convert to paying members and participants, they are source of word-of-mouth for the club and its promotions.

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Audience

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s indicated by the club’s name, Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club serves riders interested in dressage who reside in or near northwest Arkansas. Several members live in Missouri and Oklahoma and many registered shows and clinicians live in surrounding regions such as the Tulsa and Kansas City areas. However, club members themselves usually live near the Arkansas border and thus it is convenient for them to participate in this club instead of neighboring clubs associated with the aforementioned cities. Furthermore, most individuals who coordinate riding activities are either working-age adult riders or parents of youth riders. Communication should address an 18-65 year old audience. Experienced dressage riders who understood the intimidation associated with the sport founded the club.

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Many see dressage as a stiff social atmosphere with wealthy, competitive individuals. The unwritten goal of this club is to open the sport to anyone interested, by making activities affordable, fun, and educational. Thus, the club’s primary target audience in social media will be local riders not already associated with specialized dressage facilities. The secondary audience includes all riders in the region. By targeting these subsets of people, the club can entice anyone potentially interested in dressage. The messaging will focus on encouraging those not already heavily invested in the sport.


Messaging

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he Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club’s purpose for utilizing social media is to become more transparent in the region’s equestrian community. Most riders do not know there is a dressage club. Many others do not know what the sport of dressage is. The club focuses on educational opportunities. The primary message through the social media outlets will include education statements and promoting educational events. The secondary message will be affordability. Dressage can be a cheap sport, contrary to how many perceive it. An equestrian does not need expensive jumping standards or large tracts of land. Any rider with access to a safe 20 by 40 meter riding area and English tack (sometimes not even that, as the club offers Western dressage classes) may participate. Essentially, anyone willing to learn may participate. People need to know that.

The club should also open a page on the main website for a blog. Currently, the Wordpress site is static. Without constant updates, people will find the site and feel that the club is not active or involved, because that is exactly what the same page says week after week. A blog will also include more details than other social media platforms and etiquette allow. It will make consumers feel more involved. Before someone spends money on clinics, shows or membership, they want to feel like they belong. A blog makes the website more welcoming.

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Media

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ecause of the audiences’ age demographics, the dressage club should approach social media in a simplistic manner. Most people use either Facebook or Twitter, and many people of all ages visit video hosting sites such as YouTube or photo sights such as Flickr. Google+ is another platform growing in popularity, is simple to use, and is useful for people looking for interest groups to join. Since the main website belongs to Wordpress, a blog will be an easy addition. Considering the number of people the club might attract and the staffing available, these five platforms will suffice. An application called Hootsuite can manage posts and useful social media data. Through Hootsuite, the dressage club can keep track of: • Twitter mentions, retweets • Followers • Favorited posts • Maintain a social media inbox and outbox • Store information using a “lists” function • Social media contacts • Look at publishing history • Site analytics • Save assignments that need to be viewed while working on social media efforts.

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Hootsuite is designed to manage multiple profiles from one site and thus saving critical time for an organization made up of volunteers. The analytics function of Hootsuite allows the dressage club to monitor and evaluate the reach of their social media efforts.


Plan

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ocial media users tend to be active on a daily basis. This makes it important to post something on some site each day. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are simple to maintain on a daily basis. These require short posts. Flickr can also be used frequently by uploading any photos used in other social media posts as well as galleries for clinics and shows. Many blogs and popular content-generating videos on YouTube come out every week. While the dressage club may not have a person with the time to script, shoot, edit and upload a video every week, YouTube can be more versatile. First off, any activity on YouTube will connect to the club’s Google+ profile, thus counting as a post. A YouTube “post” can be an original recording such as parts of a club-sponsored event, posts in response to dressage and equestrian videos or sharing a related video.

As previously stated, posting on Facebook and Twitter more frequently will access the myriad of potential consumers that use the more popular social media sites. The club can post on Google+ and YouTube simultaneously because those accounts are linked. However, the club should post on Google+ independently of YouTube as well, and essentially use it in the same way they use Facebook and Twitter. However, on Friday the Google+ post should coincide with a YouTube activity.

The club may adjust the schedule once the campaign is established and analytics show more activity on sites during other times, but most internet social activity starts in the midafternoon. Many riders have children and have shorter work hours so that they may be home when the children are. People also visit these sites in the evening, but often content posted in the afternoon will still be visible in a viewers feed into the evening. Timing is less of an issue for Flickr and YouTube. People post less frequently and the site is more content driven than for timeliness. Especially since Flickr and YouTube posts will occur during the weekends or when people start thinking about weekends, the timing of the post will coincide.

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Execution

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fficer positions for the club should include at least one social media coordinator. Using Hootsuite and planning posts on a weekly basis should keep this job minimal. However, Flickr and YouTube uploads may need to be managed by another volunteer. A few existing members frequent clinics and shows with cameras and may be interested in being the official photographer or official broadcaster. Posts, regardless of the media platform, should have quality content. The dressage club wants to spread awareness of dressage and dressage activities in the area. Therefore, posts may be: • Photos from a club event or any equestrian illustration to accompany dressage related text in the post. • Videos from a club event or any equestrian activity that may be tied to dressage. • Text posts: o Tips for equine care or dressage o Tips for equine farm management that might free some time or money for someone to spend more time riding o Equestrian quotes o Notices for upcoming events, and leak details of the event as it comes closer o Leads for finding trainers and equipment o Linking to informational articles related to dressage, horse care or farm management o Dressage successes of members o General horse and dressage news among members

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It is important to frequently end a post with a question or statement that will encourage someone to “like,” “favorite,” or comment on the post. The more “likes” and, especially, comments, means the club’s posts will rank higher in a consumer’s social media feed—which means the club’s post will appear more often for that consumer. Equally import is to respond to comments. In an open group on Facebook or Google+ any member can respond to another’s question but the moderator makes sure all posts are polite. When it comes to social media it is imperative to not offend anyone. People need to walk away from their computers with good feelings toward the dressage club.

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The dressage club also wants to drive social media traffic to their main Wordpress website, so whenever applicable (in other words, do not spam) include an invitation and link to the home site to encourage visitors too look at all what the club has to offer and essentially register for clinics, shows and membership. The site’s blog should include similar topics as the other social media posts, but longer. The blog should also make the website, and thus the Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club, more attractive to the consumer and potential participant.


End Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club Social Media Proposal 2014

Leah Markum

Northwest Arkansas Dressage Club  

Social Media Proposal: Spring 2014

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