By Hans Ebert

There was a time when terrestrial television station HKTVB Pearl had an animated character named Freddy to tell viewers what to expect the next day.

Why? Who knows? But every day, Freddy would either melt, or his teeth would chatter and to symbolise a drop in temperature, clouds would fall down over Freddy who would squeal that “It’s faaaaaaaaliiiiing”.

Thoughts of Freddy- is Freddy dead?- crossed my mind while going through Twitter to see what else was going on in the world other than “Roseanne” and Trump and LeBron etc.

Depending on one’s Twitter timeline, the social media platform decides what might interest someone, and so for me, horse racing pops up regularly with tweets from the usual suspects. But there’s been a huge paradigm shift. There’s a very different thought bubble screaming out a very different tune from those days of yore.

As Freddy would say, “It’s faaaaaaaliiiiiing”- the number of “likes”, the number of “followers” for those with a Jesus complex and a basic lack of interest in what some jockey has to say or the knee jerk reaction to just press that “like” button for no other reason than old habits die hard.

These days I am far more interested in “liking” and retweeting great street art, cute animals, brilliant looking destinations, appetising cuisine and always going to the Rolling Stone Twitter account for news and which is shared with the usual group of five.

“Liking” horse racing news? Not really. Joao or Zac? May the best rider win, but most important of all is making sure I win. What’s wrong with that, Tweety?

We’re all different and with very different likes and dislikes and priorities in life. Like getting on with it and travelling to broaden the mind and escape from that OTHER MeToo movement of being sheeple- only following, but very seldom actually doing something that might lead somewhere or getting out of that comfort zone so there’s the chance of meeting someone who’ll rock your world. Even if it’s for the night.

As for Twitter, one wonders how many racing clubs, like Freddy, have noticed that interest in this social media platform to market and promote the sport is “faaaaaaaliiiiiing”?

As someone in marketing with an interest in promoting and marketing horse racing, there appears to be less and less mediums for the messages. Either that or the messages are just corporate press releases and replays of races.

How many care? Hasn’t the race been run? And though there are enough horse racing news sites in Chinese just as there are numerous cable channels carrying the ‘live’ coverage of Hong Kong horse racing, the once influential SCMP has cut back drastically on showcasing the sport.

Gone is racing editor Alan Aitken, apparently on leave is racing writer Michael Cox with only Tom Biddington left to carry the load. It shows the importance in which the newspaper places on horse racing while also showing the dwindling interest in publications.

Again, it’s progress calling the shots and readers going along for the ride because, well, what’s the choice? Anyone?

These are very tough times for every industry as so much of everything has created so much clutter. There’s no filter to separate the wheat from the chaff. There’s no selectivity nor exclusivity other than bailing altogether from social media. Just maybe it’s run its race and become irrelevant?

To be true to one’s self, there’s perhaps a need to turn off your mind and that iPhone and float downstream in order to rediscover what’s truly relevant and how not to be overawed by the ordinaire and the dangers of worshipping false idols? Do it.

Horse racing is not going anywhere. It’s here to stay. But in what form and how long can it continue with the same old players who have seen their “brand equity” erode almost overnight? The number of “followers” has nothing to do with anything. Look at those in horse racing with thousands of “followers”. If not part of a jockeys fan club, how many tweet anything that’s going to blow your mind with intelligentsia? Or bring something new to horse racing?

Seeing people trying desperately to hold on to past “glories” and remain relevant by embracing a new cause célèbre or transparently looking for a new gig or free handout or dragging up names from horse racing’s Night Of The Living Dead is reminiscent of those creatures from “Star Trek”- the Klingons. It’s not a good look.

#horseracing #twitter #socialmedia #relevant #irrelevance #marketing