The Social Angle With Bjorn Baker


Bjorn Baker | Getty

By Alex Cairns

The odds were stacked against New Zealand-born trainer Bjorn Baker when he moved to Sydney in 2011. With just two horses in his stable, making a name for himself in a competitive market was going to be a serious challenge. When the ability of these horses proved limited, Baker was under pressure.

Thankfully for Baker, the skills he had developed working with his father Murray Baker, one of New Zealand’s most successful trainers, saw him through. He purchased the gelding Sky Gaze (NZ) for A$6,000 and landed his first winner as a sole trainer with the horse on Sept. 26, 2011 at Bathurst.

Since then, Baker’s string has grown to number 92, thanks to an impressive strike rate and increasing numbers of stakes winners. In May 2016 he took his first Group 1 prize, winning the Doomben 10,000 with Music Magnate (NZ) (Written Tycoon {Aus}). Baker was also the purchaser of Music Magnate, adding additional depth to his satisfaction.

Another key aspect of Baker’s success has been his approach to communication. Effectively employing social media and video, he has an open, client-focused approach. This has seen him garner healthy numbers of followers online and increase his client base as a result. At the same time, he is keen to share behind-the-scenes content with fans and promote the sport to a wider public.

With more and more businesses in the Thoroughbred industry using social media to strengthen their brand and reach out to current and potential clients, TDN asked Baker to share his insights on social media marketing.

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

BB: The benefits are several and include the ability to build on existing relationships, keep our clients engaged and connected, extend our network and increase brand awareness.

TDN: What are your aims with your social media marketing?

BB: Our aims are closely tied into the benefits of social media and include growing our social presence, building on current relationships, and seeking new connections.

TDN: Which social channels do you prefer and what type of content do you post on each platform?

BB: At the moment we are focusing on Facebook, Twitter, and most recently Instagram. We are still refining how we use each platform, but it does line up with most users’ expectations of the type of information they glean from these channels: Twitter is the news broadcast; with Facebook we’re after increasing interactions and getting in front of people currently outside of the industry; and Instagram is about creating the aspirational story of owning a Thoroughbred racehorse.

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

BB: Yes, for sure. This is still an area of learning for us and the tech world is ever-evolving. We look at most others in the industry, from industry bodies to studs and breeders, to bloodstock agents and syndicators, and other trainers. There is a lot to learn from each other and we also can create synergy by tagging and sharing others posts, which is good for the industry as a whole. We have also turned our focus outwards, to see what is best practice and what we can emulate moving forward.

TDN: How do you measure success? Can you convert social media followers into clients?

BB: This is still an area of infancy for us; we start with the overt information about how many followers we have across the platforms, and then look a little deeper into the analytics from there. We hope this will translate to more owners, better bloodstock, and ultimately more wins.

TDN: How did you develop your social media skills?

BB: We initially employed someone within the industry on a contract basis. She has provided the steady presence we have needed. We also have clients from all walks of life, some of whom are marketing experts. They have given us some great pointers. We are still watching and learning, researching and listening to podcasts. It seems that despite our early success, the more you scratch the surface, the more there is to learn, and if we can figure out how to harness the influence of social media it could be an immensely powerful tool for us.

TDN: What are the biggest mistakes to avoid making?

BB: Social media is able to suck plenty of hours that could be used elsewhere in your business, so it is important to stay focused and targeted on what you would like to achieve.

TDN: Can social media be a distraction?

BB: Yes it can, but I have a great team around me who help in managing this, so most of my input can be quite rapid. Believe it or not, most of our videos are done in one take, and there are only one or two photos taken for each shot posted. I simply don’t have the time to spend hours getting a shot just right.

TDN: Going forward, what social media trends are you following?

BB: I think at this stage you might be overestimating my social media nous. Maybe more live posts. Perhaps check back in six months when we have explored it further.

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

BB: Absolutely. It seems that across all industries, as technology advances, people’s appetites to share information and experiences in new ways will only increase. Businesses will continue to want to use this to get their products and services, whatever they may be, in front of an audience.

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