Caroline Breen reveals why social media is an essential tool in building your brand

Caroline Breen runs Breen Sport Horses with her husband international showjumper Trevor Breen. We spoke to her about why social media plays a key role in their business.

How important is social media to Breen Sport Horses?

Caroline and her international show jumping husband Trevor Breen

Photo credit: Julian Portch

I spend half my day on social media. Breen Sport Horses has 22,000 followers across all platforms, so lots of people are interested in Trevor and they want to know what he gets up to.

Social media is such an easy way to share his day with them. You can do it all from your phone, which means I can even post stuff when I’m riding. There really is no excuse for a poor social media presence!

Which platforms do you use?

I mainly use Instagram, because it’s quick and easy to upload photos and stories. Plus, all our sponsors use it and I can easily tag them.

I use Facebook a lot, too – I put up the latest results and any videos of us competing. But it’s difficult to tag people on a professional Facebook page, so it’s not as easy to involve our sponsors.

I use Twitter to retweet any posts about Trevor, but I wouldn’t use it for promoting sponsors as I don’t find the engagement as good. People don’t tend to interact with us on Twitter. Also it’s not as colourful and it’s not as easy to upload photos or share content.

Which has the best results?

Instagram is the best by far. It’s a really sexy app and you can get a huge following on Instagram stories. It’s so easy to interact with your followers and get feedback, and you can see how many people have looked at a post,

If I put a post up about Trevor winning on Facebook we get around 250 likes and comments, but on Instagram we get 14,000 within half a day.

What do you put on social media?

There are a number of things you need to consider when posting on social media:

  1. Before I post something I always ask: who am I making it for and what do I want to achieve? Is it for our sponsors, or our followers?
  2. It’s important to make your posts interactive and relevant. For example I put up a post when Trevor won the Grand Prix on the Sunshine Tour and on a recent Instagram story I tagged everything Trevor was wearing ­­– from head to toe.
  3. You have to stay on top of your social, so when I’m around the yard, or riding or jumping at a show, I take photos that I can use throughout the day.
  4. With Instagram stories there are lots of tools you can use to your advantage, so you can make the posts quite arty.
  5. You also have to be professional, as sponsors are looking at you. You have a moral obligation to post in the right way and I never let Trevor comment on discussions on Facebook.

How often do you put up a new post or story?

The more people look at your account, the more you come up on their feed, so I do at least two posts a week and one Instagram story a day. It literally takes five minutes out of your day and if someone is trying to promote themselves, surely they can spare that to do something creative?

What do your sponsors get out of social media?

We have fab sponsors and are so appreciative of what they do for us, so we want to keep them happy.

A great way to do that is to connect them to our followers on social media, which is easy to do on Instagram. Every time I put up a new post I can tag them straight away, which means they get to be a part of our story and our fan base.

One of our sponsors is Equifit, which is one of the biggest boot companies in the US and they sponsor some really big names, including McLain Ward, Jessica Springsteen and Kent Farrington. It’s amazing they sponsor us, but it’s because of our social media following.

There is a certain amount of pressure to keep sponsors happy as you have to do it everyday, but I enjoy it and there is no excuse not to be really hot at it.

What other challenges do you face?

It can be hard getting the balance right between personal interaction with our followers and professional content. It’s important to remember that social media isn’t just about keeping the sponsors happy. It can’t be a hard sell all the time – you also have to feature some stuff that’s ‘real’. The big wins aren’t week in week out – the reality is most of the time we are riding young horses and working hard. It’s this stuff that people relate to.

People want to know about out lives and social media gives them an insight into that. You open yourself up to people – so you have to accept them being nosy about you.

I try and reply to everyone, which can also be a challenge. But when people take the time to interact with us, I want to interact back with them.

What advice would you give to someone getting into social media?

If I had one bit of advice, it’s to get on Instagram. It’s where the equestrian world is moving to and where your business needs to be. That should be the first thing you download on your phone.

Don’t just take Caroline’s word for it. Email us at fatboy@dev-server/c/ceris-burns-equestrian and get some advice on your social media straight from the horse’s mouth.