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Behind the social media account: Gracie Tyte aka Pony Nuts

With over 245,000 followers across three accounts on Instagram, and over 60,000 on YouTube, at 16 years old, Gracie Tyte, better known as Pony Nuts, has grown a serious social media following in just a few years.

Gracie creates much loved content for her followers across her platforms regularly at the same time as working with a handful of sponsors and brands, riding and schooling her own horses, studying, and eventing her main horse, Bella.

How did you get started?

I started at the end of 2014 on an iPad I’d been given for Christmas. I’d always wanted to grow an account and I’d started a few little ones, but it was a photo of Dan [her pony] that I published on Christmas Eve that really started things. There was then a video of Dan that went viral of him eating a home-made birthday cake and things just snowballed from there really.

I now have 151,000 followers on Instagram on my main account, but I also have an ‘Extras’ account that’s full of outtakes that didn’t make it onto the main account, and I have a more professional account too, which is more about competition results.

I started YouTube properly a couple of years ago, and I’ve found it much harder to leverage. Uploading can take a long time, as can the editing, but I started it when I was competing Dan as a more detailed record of what I was doing. YouTube is a great platform to be on, but it requires a significant amount of time and effort and this can be difficult to invest in among school, social and family life and looking after and riding the horses.

What do you enjoy about what you do?

I really love being able to look back on everything since the account began. I also really like the friendships and opportunities that I have got because of doing what I do. And not necessarily in terms of sponsorships — which I’m very grateful for — but the people I have been able to meet. I’ve met Ben Hobday, Mary King and Zara Tindall, and interviewed them for various projects. It’s amazing to think how much has changed in three years!

I also really love meeting my followers. The meet ups at events are just incredible and I’m always blown away by the amount of people who come to see me at these meet ups and how lovely they all are.

Have you had any ‘pinch me’ or completely surreal moments because of your online presence?

There have been a few, but one that really stands out was meeting and then interviewing Pippa Funnell on the Chatsworth stand for Dodson & Horrell. I’ve been a Pippa fan forever, and when they (D&H) said that she was coming over and could I interview her, I did have a real pinch me moment then!

Another one that really stands out is the meet and greet at HOYS in 2019. We weren’t sure how many people would come to the meet up but there were so many. Any time I meet people and they know who I am, I’m surprised, let alone when it’s a group of people.

What do you find hard about being an influencer?

The pressure. When I started this I was only 13, and as my following has grown, so has the pressure. And the pressure is the greatest when things don’t go so well. There was an occasion when I was eventing and I had had a really bad round with Prince. The kind where you just want to go back to the lorry and be left alone for a few minutes(!). But as soon as I’d finished, people were keen to have their picture taken with me and as I am really grateful to every one of my followers and I would hate to ever let anyone down, I agreed. It was lovely to meet them and chat but it was a real moment of seeing the two different sides of the coin very clearly.

I get called an inspiration by quite a lot of people online. It’s incredibly flattering but it is a lot to live up to — I’m just a normal girl who’s passionate about horses and loves eventing. That’s it. I just have a lot of people who like to see my horses and follow my journey. It’s quite a pressure and I always worry that I have let people down and that I have to be perfect all the time. I think it’s something that comes with a big audience.

Do you like the term influencer or do you prefer to be called something different and why?

I wouldn’t call myself an influencer. Influencer, to me, suggests you only do it for ads, which is not the case for me. I prefer and use the term content creator, as that’s exactly what I do. I like to create content for people to watch and enjoy. I would only recommend products that I truly like, use, and believe in myself and I hope that my followers respect that.

Can you talk about some of the opportunities that being an influencer has created? What have been the most memorable for you?

Albion has to be very high up there. I’ve loved the Albion brand for a long time, and my mum used them too, so it’s a family ‘tradition’. So working with them and having the most beautiful saddle and tack for Bella has been a dream come true.

Jump 4 Joy is another. Every Christmas I used to ask for a set a Jump 4 Joy showjumps — I wanted this specific brand — and every year mum would say ‘maybe one day’, so to have a full set at home is incredible.

I’ve recently started working with the FEI — and that’s just huge for me. I’ve been producing videos for their YouTube Channel around education and information, meeting the horses and following my journey. I’ve also been doing TikToks for them to help promote the FEI to a younger demographic and make everything more accessible with the My Horse World Club.

As I’ve said, meeting Pippa on Dodson & Horrell’s stand was incredible, having Champion who have been amazing from a safety point of view and were so helpful when I took a nasty fall not that long ago; Bed-Down has been great to work with and not long ago I got to interview Simon Grieve and Tom Rowland for Bed-Down’s IGTV channel. Meeting Ben Hobday also came through one of my sponsors, DriRug, who I’ve worked with for a long time now.

Which brands have you worked with recently? Do you tend to seek out longer term partnerships, individual promotions or a mixture of the two and why?

I like to mix long term and short term/individual promotions, as long as the shorter term ones don’t conflict with the bigger brand partnerships I have. I also find that shorter promos often grow into bigger things as I am careful which brands I work with, so I can be confident my followers will like them. It’s important to balance it all out though as you can’t just cram your feed full of paid for opportunities and neglect the organic content that people follow you for.

Do you have any advice for brands or equestrians on forming positive working relationships?

Communication has to be a priority. If either party aren’t happy they need to speak up. Go back and renegotiate if you need to, remind them if you think they’ve forgotten something, don’t be afraid to speak up or even say no as needed.

Work with companies and people you like and trust, not just for products that you need. You have to do it for the right reasons or else everyone loses – brand, equestrian and followers too. It’s lovely to be able to support local businesses too as well as new and the more established brands.

Do you receive any negativity online? How do you deal with trolls?

I do. If you have a big account it’s just something that comes with it. But you do just have to brush it off — which I appreciate is hard to do and easy to say. A good support network is essential, and I’m lucky that I have my mum and I go to her and check things and discuss how to deal with things when they get too much.

As for how I deal with trolls — I don’t engage, I just block and move on. They want me to respond so I don’t. I only respond if their comment is factually incorrect and they’ve misunderstood something, as I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But proper trolls are just blocked.

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Top tips for anyone who wants to start an Instagram and grow it

Don’t worry about the followers. Don’t shout out everyone who asks you to do it. And enjoy it! Post because you want to and because it’s good content that people will enjoy. Also stay genuine. You and your followers deserve it.

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