By Hans Ebert
Got a pocketful of dreams
And lotsa hope in my heart
Hope my ship comes in
In the shape of a horse
Lost my mind and lost my soul
Somewhere along the way
Will just kick back now
Let Mother Nature make my day
Gotta a lot of numbers
Just hope they all add up
Don’t wanna see them fade
Into a discardable paper cup
No time for looking down
And letting negativity get in the way
No need to go back into darkness
When it’s all about looking up…
Often there’s the inner you speaking to the outside you. Asking questions that are playing with and in your head.
These days, many are questioning what has been branded “social media”. Is it really “social”? Is it relevant? Dangerous? Or is it Ugly?Angry? Addictive? Smoke and mirrors? All of the above?
Those lines above came from the “inner me” talking to the “outer me” after having had a shower the other day. Might have been the water. What do they mean?
Being in marketing in one way or another almost all my working life, and on the fringes of horse racing, the question of social media and horse racing had been going through a thought process. A thought process that started with questioning “social media”. How and where it has perhaps gone wrong. Or how all these different delivery platforms could be used more effectively. More creatively. For good. Not always to hurt and criticise.
Without sounding like Pollyanna, something to create a better world. A world gone crazy. A world that’s lost its way. Maybe lost in the often unreal world and clutter and numbers and false engagement of all this “social media”. People are suckers for whatever the hell is “trending”. Whatever is deemed “fashionable”. #Insecurities
Right now, these numbers driven online delivery platforms are creating chaos. The long tail is wagging the one-time big dog. Very little good is coming out of it. It’s dumbed down the world. Its role in horse racing? Is there even one?
Over the past three years, too many in horse racing have talked about doing this and that on “social media”. Like what? Tweeting racing news? Okay. Fair enough. Especially as practically no one today reads newspapers.
What else? Tweeting tips? Exchanging tips? How many of these can one absorb before saying, “Enough is enough. It’s getting dark, too dark to see”?
What else? Having horse racing’s usual talking heads nattering to each other about something or another? To the usual captive audience?
“Engaging” in the bashing of jockeys? Shysters peddling their wares? Those needing their fix of tips? The very loud chest pounding when one of these tips finally comes in? Silent running when they don’t?
Where do racing club websites fit into all this? Have these changed with the times? How many visit websites these days? The hardcore racing professional does for information, videos of trackwork etc. Who else? Anyone new coming to the party? Anything on these websites of relevance to them?
How and where do these “social media agencies” hired by racing clubs work in spreading the word? What’s “the word”, anyway? How does horse racing want to be seen? And positioned? If a cross between infotainment and edutainment, how successful has it been?
In politics, in music, in the selling of any consumer product or event, the role of social media is very clear. It comes down to creating awareness. Expanding those customer bases. Engaging fans. Interacting with them. Learning from customer wants and needs. Expanding that customer base and learning more.
All of the above have marquee value names as carrots. Lewis Hamilton. Kanye. Trump. Ronaldo. Federer. Nike. The brands really are brands.
Social media can be a great boon for communications. Newspapers are dead. So is television. Unless spectacularly different, so are television commercials. Plus producing these were and still are hugely expensive. Most miss the mark. By a country mile. Worse, most are never seen.
The other thing is that today most think they can do better than the other person. Most can’t. Not even with a hundred hashtags. Most have zero experience in advertising, marketing and the creative process. But being a DIY world, the technology usually becomes the idea. Because there IS no idea. There’s just another brick in the wall of hoodwinks.
There’s so much of everything in the online world. Often, we can’t help seeing all this, well, stuff, everyday. But not absorbing much. So many inhaling everything. But nothing capable of giving us that high.
Back to horse racing and social media…What’s the entry point? What’s the primary objective for a racing club? To get the news about something or another out there?
France Galop, Ascot Racecourse achieve this objective very well, especially on Twitter. It’s creative infotainment. There’s a strategy to the timing of their tweets.
These usually happen for their big race meetings. They pull out all the stops. The work is of Group 1 status. Will it attract non-horse racing fans? Most likely not. Maybe it’s not meant to.
Why would non horse racing people search out something on social media that they don’t know or care squat about? Something they have never experienced? You know, that on course experience with its thundering hooves of excitement? No racecourse nor race meeting anywhere in the world are as well known and established as the people power music festivals in Glastonbury. Or Ibiza. Or Roskilde. Or Fujii Rocks.
Doesn’t this say something? About objectives? And strategic thinking? Perhaps finding the right strategic partners? Working with them and their databases?
If something far more entertaining and with mass appeal like a music video, sometimes by a name act, can go MIA, what chance does horse racing have to be seen and heard over the Gungha Din of everything else?
What’s constitutes a success rate in horse racing parlance, anyway? A thousand “likes” and “retweets”? Twenty thousand “Views” and “likes” on Instagram and Facebook?
Does any of this make believers out of doubters? Convince advertisers that horse racing is something to back? That it’s popular? That it’s likeable? That there’s more in it for them than “naming rights”?
There are answers to these questions. But some things are not given out for free. Someone has to pay the piper.
Having said this, coming across this tweet last night from a longtime friend offered more than a glimmer of hope in making horse racing more likeable.
Michael Rodd has almost been on a hiatus from Twitter. Like more and more, maybe he just needed a break from all the clutter. Possibly still does. A break from the anger. The petty politics. The ego turns. The transparent personal agendas. The insecurities.
That one tweet, well, it goes a long way in making horse racing likeable. It shows that someone in horse racing has a heart. Shows how one person can make a difference. By simply caring. Heart sell and not more Hard Yell.
Well done, brother. #legend
#socialmedia #horseracing #marketing #MichaelRodd #AscotRacecourse #FranceGalop