The Social Angle: Alix Choppin

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Alix Choppin | Olivier Houdart

By Alex Cairns

More and more businesses in the Thoroughbred industry are using social media to strengthen their brand and reach out to current and potential clients. Alix Choppin, head of communication and development at Arqana, shares her insights on strategies for social media marketing

TDN: What are the benefits of social media marketing for businesses in the Thoroughbred industry?

Alix Choppin: Social media has clearly enabled racing-related businesses to reach out to a much wider audience than they used to when using traditional media such as magazines and newspapers. The use of videos is invaluable to market a sport as visual as horseracing. Think of morning exercise at sunrise or racing images from a jockey’s headcam: we have so much to showcase that can definitely make racing attractive to a younger, urban audience who would never have been exposed to a racing-related newspaper. And when you see a celebrity such as FIFA World Cup champion Antoine Griezmann get hooked into racehorse ownership and share his passion on social media, the impact is huge – worth hundreds of old-style adverts.

TDN: Which social channels have been most successful for you? How do you measure success?

AC: Facebook and Twitter have been our core media at Arqana for a while now and as a result this is where we have the largest following. Both services provide detailed statistics, which make it easy to monitor our use and identify the highest-performing content. However these two media now tend to represent the old guard as is reflected in their users’ age pyramid. As a result we continue to explore other media such as Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. Flexibility and adaptability are fundamental in social media.

TDN: Can you convert social media followers into clients?

AC: Naturally it is very dependent on the type of products or services you are selling, but in the case of racing clubs, we’ve clearly seen a significant connection. Quite a lot of members found out about Arqana Racing Club on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, liked what they saw and were encouraged to investigate further. Particularly for foreign-based owners, social media can provide a good indication on the type of content they will receive as club members. This is an area where social media platforms have made a major difference from the days when all you would get from your trainer was the occasional phone call, and you counted yourself lucky if the race was broadcast live.

TDN: Do you look at other organisations, inside or outside the Thoroughbred world, for inspiration?

AC: Yes, of course. There is so much creativity in this area and I find it really interesting to look at how different sectors address their respective challenges via social media.

TDN: How did you develop your social media skills?

AC: Not being a digital native, I’ve been learning throughout my professional life using a combination of personal research, specific training and most importantly taking advice from the younger members in my team at Arqana.

TDN: What are the biggest mistakes to avoid making?

AC: I really wouldn’t dare to give any lessons in this domain as the main rule seems to be that the rules are constantly changing.

TDN: Can social media be a distraction?

AC: It all depends on your point of view. If you’re a teacher, a lecturer or a priest, you are likely to think social media content can be distracting. Luckily I am not, and as a result I consider social media as a source of information, networking, entertainment, expression and much more.

TDN: What social media trends are you following?

AC: I believe that we haven’t seen the end of media specialisation. In the early stages of social media, Facebook used to be the universal platform, while now you see people using separate channels for their various needs: interacting with family and friends, promoting and cultivating their professional profile, expressing their artistic inspiration, keeping in touch with the latest news, etc.

TDN: Do you think social media marketing will continue to expand?

AC: It seems inevitable to me. I was reading recently that in France alone, social media already accounts for 71% of digital advertising and 97% of its growth. As social media use continues to spread and intensify, these platforms will become increasingly valuable and brands will be willing to pay considerable amounts for a share of their users’ attention.

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