If you take a look around at any horse show today, you’ll be sure to see many people on their phones. They’re likely posting pictures or videos of their horses, friends, or family, or just checking out the competition and their social media presence. Whether it’s a trainer selling a horse, or amateurs just “humble bragging” about a great ride, social media is here to stay, with most people utilizing it to some capacity.
The basic human need to connect and express oneself has pushed social networking to greater use. Social media has evolved from something only kids used to talk to their peers, into a driving force in global marketing and sales in the business world, and the horse industry has jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are popular for all ages and professions. However, there are still people who may not be aware of just what the various social media platforms are, aside from colorful smartphone apps that younger users seem to be glued to. Being on top of the social game is now more important than ever, as we are more visible and connected than previous generations, thanks to the internet. Social media is still a relatively new phenomena, but the ramifications of its use is a hot topic of study in scholarly literature across psychology and media communication journals, in both interpersonal and intrapersonal contexts. It’s a challenge to stay attuned to the rapidly changing world of technology and the nuances of social media and the rewards and drawbacks of social media are vast. There are a multitude of both positive and negative effects that come from its usage and while we as a society have a lot to learn in terms of online etiquette, there are some great benefits to social media.
Let’s begin with the good things that social media can offer. The Five Benefits of Social Media by Lauren Friedman (2014) lists as follows: social media helps to build relationships, share expertise, increase one’s own visibility, educate oneself, and connect to the virtual world anytime. Although all benefits are relevant to the horse show industry, building relationships, increasing visibility, and fostering connections are the three to focus on in particular. Social media has allowed users to stay in contact across the country with ease; a trainer who might have only been accessible via phone call at one time, can now be reached with a Facebook post, comment, or message. Likewise, a youth exhibitor who made new friends at a show can find them by searching their names on Instagram or Snapchat and nurture these new bonds. Perhaps someone wishes to promote their new yearling, he or she can simply post pictures and videos on their numerous profiles for increased exposure at the tap of a finger! It may seem that this new digital world of instant connection and gratification is too good to be true, because it is…
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