Fan engagement is a big subject for the FEI, as it is for most International Sports Federations. Always seeking to increase the outreach of our sport, one of the big questions we came across was, how do we become increasingly engaging for a youth audience in today’s world?
For Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2000, social media has been a constant presence in their daily lives, making them the most connected generation ever, and a discerning group of consumers. Also called Gen Zers, they are in search of hyper-personal experiences on social media that coincide with their belief system and their values. They embrace change and have great facility at adapting to change, which can make this generation quite challenging to engage with, as their behavioural patterns and media consumption vary rapidly.
Understanding the need and desire of this progressive generation to fully interact with brands that value authenticity, dialogue and uniqueness, the FEI created My Horse World Club in 2019 which brings to life the vision that FEI President Ingmar De Vos presented in his ‘Roadmap for the Future’. In his manifesto prior to his re-election in 2018, he highlighted the crucial role that youth play in the ongoing growth and sustainability of any sport and the need for equestrian to be relevant to this young audience.
While pony mad youngsters exist everywhere, we realised that if we wanted to attract more youth to the sport we needed to expand our equestrian horizon and create something entirely dedicated to young people that would respond to their digital expectations.
The FEI launched My Horse World Club with the intention of bringing young people together around what they love most, the horse, and to celebrate the precious horse-human connection. While this required a new approach to social media in comparison to what the FEI had done in the past, the focus was clearly aimed at providing a platform for expression that reflects the dynamic and vibrant nature of this new generation of equestrians.
Initially starting out on YouTube and Instagram, it was the move to TikTok that truly allowed My Horse World Club to fully come to life. TikTok, the easy-to-use video creation app that provides a host of editing features allowing users to sing, dance and act to the backdrop of pre-recorded audio clips or songs, has grown exponentially over the past year. With over two billion downloads on mobile devices, it is one of the hottest apps for fostering creativity and socialisation on the market today.
TikTok provides a space for equestrian sport to reach a completely new audience and connect in a meaningful way with followers who are not passive consumers but active participants. When the FEI started on its TikTok journey, it was clear that our fan base would only grow if our followers could connect with relatable people and identify with their tone of voice. For this reason, it was important that the content creators of this youth focused social media channel were themselves members of Generation Z.
This strategy proved really successful and was key in unlocking the potential for the FEI’s new My Horse World Club TikTok channel, reaching an impressive follower count of close to 37K in a matter of months and over six million video views with the numbers continuing to grow.
This motto has meant that the name and visual identity for the brand were created by Generation Z itself.
Additionally the FEI works with a network of young creators who are closely involved with the content planning process and are responsible for regularly publishing videos to the channel. They are given as much creative freedom as possible so that their individuality and personality comes through, allowing for a more dynamic content creation process.
From fun to educational and keeping horse welfare at heart, there is something for everyone passionate about equestrian on this account. By engaging with a young audience through compelling content and interesting storytelling on a platform that is easy to use, the FEI hopes that it can spark a life-long interest in the unique and rewarding aspects of an equestrian lifestyle, as well as the sport for some.
The My Horse World Club journey has only just started and in this fast-paced world of ours where change is constant, we hope that this new interactive channel will, in the near future, become the reference point for young people globally and a place where they can all come together and truly experience the best our equestrian community has to offer.