A while back, a couple of friends in Atlanta called to ask if my buddies and I could help them with a site they were launching called Riding Resource. Word has it, it’s hard as hell to find a quality place to ride horses today despite the omnipotence of Google. After a load of hard work, including manual searches and cataloging of horse barns across the country and the development of a Rails application to search 12,000 barns, they needed a logo, a site design, and some good ways to promote the site. We were happy to help with all three, and I’m pretty excited by the initial things I’ve seen.
Obviously, the design is awesome, the due diligence has been done (it’ll be a useful site, not just a usable one), and the application works. But how to promote it? And for free, you say?
You: “Uh, that’s an easy one. Social media!”
Me: “Thanks for reading.”
Initially, my homies from the South were a little hesitant to use Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo and Facebook, and for good reason. They didn’t want to seem spammy, didn’t want to seem like a lot of the “promoters” out there.
Me: “Thank you.”
So we worked through a way to involve people in the process of making Riding Resource better (offering beta test invites to anyone who follows on Twitter or fans on Facebook, while asking for submissions to the database that might have been missed), and integrating Flickr and Vimeo into search results and onto the homepage of the site. I’ve always been really impressed by sites (like Incase) that allow customers to directly affect the content on the homepage. To me, it shows some serious balls and commitment to being “real” in today’s web.
I’m pretty happy with the results so far, especially given that nothing has been launched, and people are following on pure speculation (at this point, the beta invite list will be around 272 people). I’ve been tossing Twitter tips their way as necessary, but really, it’s all about just committing to it and playing around. This isn’t about a short-term launch strategy using many media channels and big bucks to launch a huge site; it’s about sustained communication to a small group of people that actually care about what Riding Resource has to say. And I think if you look through their Twitter, you’ll see that they’re really participating, answering @replies and truly engaging with anyone out there who talks about horses on a semi-regular basis.
Anyhow, become a follower on Twitter and maybe fan them on Facebook if you want to see it when it comes out. I’m excited. If you like horses, you should be too. This seems to be answering a real need online. Yay.