TikTok, the app that allows video content creators to reach millions all within the grasp of a smartphone, has given horse racing access to an entirely new audience.
Not only is the platform helping to educate the masses about the intricate details of breeding, racing, and sales, but savvy marketing and social media managers are using it to supplement their messaging on other social media platforms as well.
Hayley Amoss, manager of communications and social media for Breeders’ Cup, discussed the role that TikTok and other social media play in promoting the sport. The organization’s social media channels will be in full force Nov. 5-6 as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships take center stage at Del Mar.
“I’m in a unique position where I can help build brand exposure and expose the horse racing industry in general to the younger generation. Social media is the way to build those fans. It’s a fun project that I like taking on,” Amoss said.
For Amoss, tailoring posts to an audience and understanding your viewership is the key to success. Audiences on TikTok prefer videos which have not been produced professionally, and gravitate toward educational content.
The Breeders’ Cup TikTok account launched earlier this year and has taken viewers behind the scenes with clips of key contenders in the months leading up to their marquee event.
“We launched TikTok with focus on the backside coverage as our main thing, promotional content featuring 2017 Del Mar videos (Breeders’ Cup was held at Del Mar for the first time in 2017), things like that, and then throwing in an educational angle,” Amoss said.
“You’ve got 30 seconds on TikTok to share your brand and capture the attention of your audience. How, in that 30 seconds, can you make something entertaining and educational enough so that when someone goes to a racetrack, they’re confident that they can place a win-place-show bet?”
Amoss has a system she follows when creating ideas and shooting video.
“We usually get there two days before a race,” she said. “We go out to the backside and cover and capture as many behind-the-scenes videos as we can of horses that are contenders of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge. Whether they’re training on the track, in the stall, we try and get as much content, both video and photos, as possible.
“Following those races is usually when we sit down and see what we captured. We see how we can apply it to certain trends especially when it relates to TikTok. We have come in with ideas of what we want but horses are animals and sometimes you can’t get exactly what you’re hoping for, so we’ve learned that it’s better to have the videos and trends work with what we have rather than expecting and hoping for something in particular that may not come to fruition.”
Another social media pioneer is Spendthrift Farm. While the leading Kentucky operation has over 27,000 followers on Instagram, their TikTok account that launched in early 2020 has more than 97,800 followers—a number that continues to grow. Autry Graham, the assistant marketing director at Spendthrift, runs the social media accounts, heads up tourism opportunities, acts as staff photographer, runs the online store, and also manages projects for the marketing department.
“Our social media following grew quickly,” she said. “(2020 Horse of the Year) Authentic definitely didn’t hurt that, and we had a bunch of fans from Beholder. We started growing our social media platform and using it as kind of a tool to promote our progeny from our stallions, and it just went from there.
“TikTok is the Wild West,” Graham added. “There are no rules. It’s so new… It’s just the general public, there’s no other way to put it. You’ve got anybody from 12 years old to 80 years old on there. The way the algorithm works is just crazy… It’s great because you can interact with comments, and we get all kinds of things. People will say ‘I don’t know how this video showed up in my feed, but this is really cool.’ That’s awesome, we just possibly gained a new fan for the sport.
“We take an educational approach on there… because you’re talking to an audience that’s completely uneducated.”
When Graham prepares to shoot video for TikTok she makes a plan for the entire month, then tries to shoot all of the content on the same day in about four hours. She also discussed the various platforms that Spendthrift utilizes and how each one differs.
“We assign different roles to each platform. The racing industry is on Twitter… it’s very factual. We honestly use that as a marketing tool. We see Facebook and Instagram as more of a space for fans. On our Facebook we make it a bit more lengthy, tag articles that BloodHorse writes and service more of the fans,” Graham said.
“On Instagram we’ve taken the perspective of trying to reach as many people as possible through beautiful imagery, and fun captions, interactive,” she added. “Like for the sale we did a ‘If you’re at Fasig-Tipton this week leave a star emoji’ (comment) just to try to engage our fans and let them know what we’re doing. We moved into the world of TikTok and our whole perspective is honestly you can’t reach everybody if you’re not everywhere.”
Since its inception, the Spendthrift TikTok account has received bids for employment as well as an influx of fans scheduling tours to come out and visit the farm.
“We’ve gotten emails from people looking for jobs, ‘Hi, saw your farm on TikTok. I work on this ranch in Idaho and I want to move to Kentucky. I’m really interested in racing. Do you have any availability?’ We’ve gotten tons of tour guests off of it. They didn’t even know it was a thing… So far we’ve seen it trickle into people spending money in the sport or trying to work at our farm.”
Another person in the industry looking to expand racing’s influence in mainstream society is the senior manager of digital media for America’s Best Racing, Penelope Miller.
Miller oversees ABR’s digital properties, website, socials, and online presence. She has been a longstanding supporter and advocate of making the industry accessible to a wider audience.
“Back in 2011 and 2012 when ABR officially launched, it was mostly Facebook and Twitter. But of course, it’s branched out to everything from Instagram to Snapchat, YouTube, and now TikTok. We really just wanted to make sure people could understand that there was something at the racetrack that could appeal to them,” Miller said. “Whether it’s the betting, the horses, the lifestyle, the sport, the history, there really is something for everyone when it comes to racing and we wanted to show that and do that through our social media and back it up with digital content to put on our website.”
Similar to others, Miller changes content dependent upon the platform.
“For us Twitter is very much a betting-forward part of our content. We have a lot of people interested in handicapping or sports betting on Twitter … We also have really gone into love of the horse, history, and lifestyle on Facebook because that has an older audience and tends to have a little more interest in the feature type of stuff,” Miller said. “On Instagram we go for a lot of beauty and history. It does extraordinarily well on that platform as well. People have an interest in ‘Throwback Thursday’ and ‘Way Back Wednesday.’ We do a lot of lifestyle content as well as showing winners of races. People do love seeing the horses.
“YouTube is where we do a lot of videos, but we’ve also done livestreaming which has been very successful … Now we’re on TikTok and I’ve deliberately made the decision to make it very horse-centric. There is a large ‘Horse-Tok’ audience out there and with the shorter format of videos on there, people like to see more organic content. We do share some video features and really well produced content but a lot of it is just stuff I’ve shot on my cellphone, showing the love and lifestyle of Thoroughbred racehorses.”
Miller feels that social media is an essential part of modern day marketing; now that includes TikTok.
“I would go so far as to call it crucial. TikTok does tend to be content that people gather on their phones. It’s not polished, although it may be slightly edited within the app. It is really heartfelt. I think that having those experiences shared by people who do this day to day is more powerful than most advertising campaigns can be,” Miller said. “There is something about the authenticity of hearing it straight from people who are actively involved in the industry that I don’t think can be replicated.”
Another part of Miller’s passion regarding racing is making an effort to diversify the sport. She does this by bringing underrepresented groups onto ABR’s platform.
“We have tried to take a very active role in encouraging people from all sorts of backgrounds to get involved in horse racing. We do so through a lot of influencer campaigns, working with people of color, women. It’s really important for us to help people of all different backgrounds realize that there’s something in this sport that can appeal to them and to welcome them to our horse racing community because I genuinely believe this is the most fun you can have,” Miller said.
The Kentucky Horse Park’s marketing director, Kerry Howe, recently started utilizing TikTok to advance awareness of the park and help feature some of the horses and various operations that are located there.
After posting their first video in July of 2021, the park’s TikTok account now has a following of 13,600 and has received over 100,000 views on one video, with only eight videos posted in total so far.
“For us it’s a two-sided thing. It helps not only keep people wanting to come to the Horse Park, but a lot of people also find out about us and see what we have to offer and the horses we have here … We have two Kentucky Derby (G1) winners, Go for Gin and Funny Cide ,” Howe said.
Many visitors come to the park with a very limited knowledge and end up learning something which draws them back time and time again. Social media helps them to keep in touch with that connection.
“There’s so many people that have come here and met these horses and even if they weren’t followers of the Thoroughbreds during their racing careers, they learn about them and get to know about what they did. They go back and watch the race replays and see how amazing they really were,” Howe said. “They enjoy these back stories and then they just create a relationship with the horse. With social media it allows us to continue that relationship. We’ll have people who come out here year to year just to see a specific horse. It wasn’t because they watched them during their racing glory days but because they fell in love with the horse and the story once they got here to the Horse Park.”
To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.
As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.
Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.
“The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”
Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.
“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”
That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.
In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.
Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.
That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.
As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.
The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.
The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.
How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.
But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.
With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?
TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time
Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.
TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.
But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos. And businesses are already catching up.
The impact of Instagram Reels
With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.
While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.
But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.
However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.
It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV
With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.
The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.
This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.
Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.
Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?
With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.
While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.
Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.
Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.
Essentially, ask yourself two questions:
First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?
The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.
What this all means for an entrepreneur
Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.
And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.
Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.
Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.
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3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.
4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.
5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.
6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.
How to make a TikTok with multiple videos
Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).
1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video
2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.
3. Select all your media and tap Next.
4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)
5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.
6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.
7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!
5 things to know before creating your first TikTok
TikTok style is less polished than other types of video
Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.
Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.
Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).
There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).
Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.
Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.
Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!