RODEO CULTURE AND FACEBOOK
by: Julie Baish-Sproul
The cowboy culture has caught onto a new social networking trend…Facebook! With each passing day, Facebook is changing how cowboys and cowgirls do business and compete more and more. Leaders in the rodeo world such as Speed Williams, Trevor Brazile, and Sherry Cervi, and companies like Equibrand and Pro Rodeo Live have realized the influence Facebook has on the new era of technology-driven society.
The best of the best in the rodeo world are using the site as a tool to promote, market, and keep their fans (“friends”) informed, updating them on what’s been happening, and letting them know where they’ve been winning. With over 41.6 million Facebook users in the United States, the possibilities for business to grow are exponential (Wikipedia, 2011). As such, Facebook is proving to be a platform that has the ability to provide a marketplace composed of each individual’s ideal demographics.
What exactly is Facebook? Facebook is a social networking site, launched in 2003 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and a few of his friends, with an original investment of $19,000. It was originally designed for Ivy League College students, enabling them to communicate and share information through the creation of profiles that display interest, education, employment, age, relationship status, and photos. Since then, it has branched out, and is now accessible to anyone who is over the age of 13 and has access to a computer or mobile internet.
Facebook’s mission statement is simple, “Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected” (Facebook, 2011). As of 2010, the estimated net worth, of one college kid’s late-night idea was estimated at $50 billion. Facebook is now being used in 207 countries around the world.
As technology advances, businesses are discovering that social media forums are great ways to connect with thousands of people instantly, and for free. Team Roping legend Speed Williams believes Facebook has been a vital part of building his business, www.speedroping.com. After posting, “Who should I rope with?” on his profile page, he got hundreds of comments from fans all over the world. “I had to laugh at the response,” Speed said, “it was overwhelming”. It was at that time when Speed realized the power of Facebook, and how helpful it would be as a marketing tool to reach thousands of potential clients.
Facebook is often dismissed as a site for individuals seeking friends or companionship; however, quite the contrary is true. Businesses such as Equibrand, Wrangler Twenty X, and The Jud Little Ranch use Facebook to share with “friends” their new products, new videos, schedules, and merchandise. People can stay informed with minute-to-minute updates on you and your business, without the huge cost of pre-Facebook advertising. These perks are accessible not only to huge companies, but also to small boutiques all over the world…one reason 500 million people have created accounts on Facebook.
Being part of the rodeo lifestyle requires competitors to be miles away from loved ones. The upside is, however, this lifestyle gives you the opportunity to make great friends along the way. With the help of Facebook, staying in touch has become much easier for those who leave home to chase that rodeo dream.
When talking to Arena de la Cruz, wife of NFR-Qualifier Cesar de la Cruz, about how she uses Facebook while going down the road, she stated, “Since having my son, Facebook has become a huge way to share his big moments in life with all my family and friends – from our rodeo friends that live across the country to family that live in the same city. I can post updates and photos of the moments they don’t want to miss”.
Being a parent myself, I am aware of the debates about how bad social networking sites are for our children. Please allow me to reassure you that, by no means am I overlooking these facts, and this article in no way supports those abuses. Parents should keep an eye on their children that have Facebook accounts, and should make sure they are being used responsibly. The internet is easy access to our children’s lives, and should always be monitored by an adult.
As a parent, business owner, and a Facebook user, I believe the benefits of using Facebook are endless and can vary to meet an individual’s needs. Barrel Racer and NFR-Qualifier Sheena Robbins explained that she uses Facebook as a tool to help her while going to rodeos, stating, “Facebook keeps me updated about how each rodeo is going, what is winning it, what the ground is like, what the weather is like, it helps me prepare for my runs even before I get there, and it helps me make a plan”. Essentially, being able to keep in immediate connection with someone who is already where you are going is just one of the ways Facebook is helping the best compete, and stay competitive.
This change in the way we communicate with each other via computers and mobile internet is just the beginning. Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are the first of many sites that have paved the way for a new era – an era allowing us to connect with one another from the comfort of our home, trailer, horse, or wherever it is that we currently call home.
(Note: This is a re-publishing of this article…It was originally published in Rodeo Fame Magazine’s Issue 1, in Summer 2011.)