Katie Jerram Hunnable on how social media has changed the equestrian section
SOCIAL media is a controversial subject. Over the last few years, I’ve seen both the positive and negative impact it’s had on the equestrian industry, especially within showing.
Most people are now on social media a lot of the time and we can’t deny the influence it has on us.
In many ways, social media use has been a good thing and it’s brought in a lot of money to the sector, especially through sponsorship opportunities.
Riders, including myself, now have a huge list of wonderful sponsors obtained through social media and the platforms give us a free space to promote their products and ultimately help our businesses grow.
It’s a fantastic way to keep up to date and catch up with people from across the globe at absolutely no cost.
We can connect with riders and friends we’ve made from all over the world, and we can watch the way other people do things to improve and educate our own methods. In yesteryear, we never had this kind of instantaneous communication.
While it’s certainly handy to have showing results available to us as soon as the class is over, our online consumption has definitely changed the way we view and consume other media outlets, such as magazines.
Once upon a time everyone would buy their H&H copy to obtain results from the previous week’s shows and some of the big championships would even make the national press. Posting and streaming results and show news on Facebook has arguably had an impact on our beloved equestrian magazines, which is a shame as we don’t want to lose our print publications as they are a key part of our industry.
Proceed with caution
For all the benefits, there are certain aspects of social media I have struggled with, and I would advise people to proceed with caution when participating online.
First and foremost, things can be misconstrued online, and people should always be aware that as soon as they press the ‘send’ or ‘post’ button their words are out there and can be open to any interpretation.
The conflict, seen at times online, is worrying. One ill-advised post can have a serious knock-on effect on someone’s business, personal life, or even their mental health.
I’m also not in favour of people oversharing on social media either; I’m not sure if these posts, which often appear to detail very personal situations, are to gain attention or sympathy?
The immediacy of the internet can also be damaging; if a terrible situation occurs, such as a tragic death or accident, there would be nothing worse than the family or connections finding out via social media before being informed by a more appropriate route.
Judges’ activity on social media is also a contentious subject. We’ve all seen competitors upping their number of posts just prior to a show, displaying their horses in all their glory. This is effectively advertising or promoting their exhibit, thereby creating the perception that Judges know the combinations through Facebook before the show has even started.
Likewise, in my opinion judges shouldn’t be commenting on an exhibitor’s photos, as this sends all the wrong signals, looks like favouritism and potentially contributes to decreased entries.
Finally, we shouldn’t be asking our friends for advice on social media and should be going to a relevant professional such as a vet or a nutritionist. There’s a reason why these people train for years to be knowledgeable about their specialist topic, so whether it’s a schooling, bitting or feed question, please go to the correct person or business to source the relevant information.
This year I’ve tried hard to think more about what I post on social media. It has meant I’ve posted less, which results in less exposure for my sponsors, but I’m working on this with them.
Before you post anything, give it some thought. Ask yourself, what impact could this post have? Could it damage my reputation, mental health, or someone elses?
- This exclusive column will also be available to read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 28 October
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