By Barbara Aitken Jenkins
A generation ago, advertising stallions relied on quality print advertising in the industry’s leading magazines, farm visits from potential clients, flyers, and positive word of mouth. In present days, one technological advance has changed the face of modern day stallion advertising–social media.
In the days of “instant gratification” comes a world where information, whether good or bad is plentiful, at the tip of everyone’s fingertips. The horse industry is no exception, and it is easy to conclude the horse industry has embraced the digital age quite well—stallions particularly.
Stallions who are standing to the public now have their own Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, and often time take to the laptop keys to congratulate their get on a job well done in arenas across the country, and wish everyone Happy Holidays and 4th of July.
For owners and marketers, social media is a dream come true because unlike traditional advertising, social media is one big word—free, and as a bonus, is a networking opportunity to connect with potential clients, mare owners, and offspring which ultimately drives a stallion’s popularity and hopefully breeding business.
So what does the audience think about seeing stallions marketed on social media? Answers seem to vary in one of three ways:
1. Social media is a major factor in breeding choices.
2. Social media enhances breeding choices.
3. Social media does not affect breeding choices in any way.
For those that are studious followers of social media advertising, quality communication often times helps make their breeding decisions.
In fact, one user commented, “I picked my 2019 stud based on social media. I like seeing what works and does not work for other breeders.”
Others use social media as one of their research methods to find more information than what they might see in a print ad, such as photos, pedigrees, offspring information, show record and some say “videos most of all.”
Although some users do not view social media as their only decision-making factor, they do utilize its strengths to learn as much as they can about the stallions they are interested in breeding to in the upcoming season.
“I might use Facebook as a research tool, finding a stallion’s page to see what they have posted about recent accomplishments. Mostly because I know it is way easier to update Facebook than a web page,” shared one social media user.
Another posted, “[Social media} just gives me more information and personal experiences from other people. I am careful to evaluate the source when considering all the things
I hear though, as should anyone. However, I appreciate any tidbits I can learn from whose opinions I have learned to respect.” However, for some users, social media provides little to no influence in their decisions, mainly because they believe a screen cannot replace seeing a horse in real life.
One user stated, “Not at all. I try very hard to see a stallion in person before I breed or at least see their progeny and research watch crosses work.” Another added, “I do my own homework. I try to meet with the stallion owners and talk with them firsthand to see what the stallion is crossing well with on what types of mares. I also ask for unedited clips of the of the stallion under saddle and in the pasture…”
Interestingly enough, although some social media users welcome the shift in the nature of advertising, some online actions are turn offs. One user states, “I find myself taking the conduct of the stallion owners/promoters more into consideration. When I constantly see a horse “over marketed” (same stallion pictures over and over, recommended for every mare with a uterus, constantly have bred mares for sale by the stallion, etc.) it really turns me off.”
The user continues, “ I also look at how they respond to critics. Breeders who are quick to bash others are a turn off although I find myself being impressed with ones being upfront and honest about their intentions. [However], I like when stallion owners/promoters showcase babies from their program in all stages of their life (foals, yearlings, riders). I also like when stallion owners help market the foals who were bred to outside mares, not just the ones in their program. Or they post the successes of these in the pen from all walks of life.”
Another user commented, “ If the stallion manager or owner incessantly recommends their stallion for every mare owner that asks what will cross well on their mare, is constantly posting about every mare they have bred to their stallion, or just in general over marketing their stallion, I take them off my list to consider breeding to.”
At the end of the day, as a mare owner, it is important to make an educated decision on which stallion possesses the best compatibility with your mare. Does the stallion’s pedigree agree with your mare’s pedigree? How have other crosses similar to the one you are interested in producing done in the show pen?
What about disposition? Are you taking other people’s words for it, or do you have solid facts?
Do you value watching a stallion or their offspring live to see how the horse(s) carries themselves or are you comfortable with only viewing their show records online?
Regardless of your answers to the above questions, the most important part of choosing a stallion is choosing the right stallion. Do the research, view the records, watch videos, talk to owners, breeders, promoters, go watch the show pen, and go with your gut. And of course, when the foals hit the ground in 2020, capture pictures and post on social media!