Santa Anita Drawing in Race Fans through Social Media

By Favot, Sarah | Pasadena Star-News, April 24, 2014 | Go to article overview

Santa Anita Drawing in Race Fans through Social Media


Favot, Sarah, Pasadena Star-News


ARCADIA» Giving an 80-year-old racetrack a digital personality is how Katie Abbott sees her role as the mastermind behind Santa Anita Park's social media accounts.

"My first strategy was to humanize the sport by showing the jockeys, not just on the horse, but getting ready to go in the mornings, or on the backside, and for the star horses, pictures of them bathing or explaining that they love peppermints or butterscotch candy," said Abbott, the track's director of interactive media and promotional events. "The idea is to inspire that conversation versus throwing corporate promotional ideas at people."

Unlike most octogenarians, Santa Anita has an active presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Abbott was hired by the track two years ago to oversee its accounts.

Before Abbott arrived, the social media posts were sporadic. The track had just 20,000 "likes" on Facebook, 8,000 Twitter followers and it didn't even have an Instagram account.

Today the track's Facebook page has more than 70,000 "likes," nearly 20,000 Twitter followers and 2,666 followers on Instagram. On Facebook, more than 130,000 users have "checked-in" at the track.

Abbott said the social media accounts give the public an "insider's view" to the track, which a fan would not normally get.

She said she sees herself as a storyteller about the personalities behind the people who work at the track.

"It's much more than just racing and gambling," she said.

Abbot said she looks for behind the scenes moments to share like when a horse is acting up in its stall or chomping down on a candy.

She said she spends a lot of time engaging with other people on social media and replying to their posts.

For example, if someone posts that they're thinking about heading to Santa Anita this weekend, she'll reply with something like, "DO IT. Just come out, stop thinking about it."

Abbott also works with a team of eight college and recent graduate interns who help with the track's social media efforts.

A perusal of Santa Anita's Facebook page shows that many of fans are interacting.

A post with an announcement that the track would be offering free admission to the infield for spectators on weekends during the track's Spring Meet received more than 400 "likes" and 100 "shares.

Abbott said the fans on the track's Facebook page are global, especially since the track has been home to the Breeder's Cup in recent years, which attracts horses and fans worldwide.

The page also has contests like entering to win a ride with the Budweiser Clydesdales parading around the track

On racing days, Santa Anita's Instagram account is filled with photos of winning horses and their jockeys, the winner's circle, jockeys posing with their family members or fans, or just a view of the San Gabriel Mountains from the track on race day with comments like "Best place in town" or "Good morning from the Great Race Place. …

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