Twitter lit up.
Then again, Twitter lit up when Juba did anything: if he entered a race, if he worked. If he won, if he lost. If someone visited his stall and fired up Periscope on their phone.
For something that started as a way to cheer on stablemate Wicked Strong, Juba’s Twitter account became far more than that. His account became a textbook example of how to do the Tweeting Horse right.
Tweeting Juba was always informative. He kept fans on top of Juba’s racing career, tweeting about races, workouts, and moves from track to track in New York and Florida. If Juba the horse was doing something, Tweeting Juba would let you know.
But, plenty of informative Twitter accounts never gain steam. Part of the real beauty of Tweeting Juba was that he made people enthusiastic about Juba. Juba never ran in the Kentucky Derby or the Breeders’ Cup. He only tried stakes company once, and finished fourth in a field of four. Sure, Juba was hardly a lunchpail horse: the Tapit half to graded stakes winner (and stallion) Saint Anddan went for six figures to one of the premier racing syndicates in America, and he was competitive in the allowance ranks on the NYRA circuit. A hard-knocking claimer he was not, but neither was he a big-time stakes horse.
With so much enthusiasm focused on the Grade I types, why did people outside his ownership group and his local racing circuits come to care about Juba so much?
Most people love a striking grey horse, but you can find cute greys on any racing circuit. Tweeting Juba had a perfect personality for social media, and that carried him.
Tweeting Juba was as sweet as the actual Juba’s wide-eyed grey face. The original concept for the account, a cheerleader for Wicked Strong, inspired a personality that was always present even after Wicked Strong’s retirement. In addition to informing readers about Juba’s own racing career, Tweeting Juba always cheered on his fellow Centennial Farms horses and his stablemates in the Jimmy Jerkens barn. Tweeting Juba always stayed in character: playful yet respectful, gracious toward his owners, his team, and his (equine and human) friends.
He also used his powers and his following for good: promoting racehorse retirement causes fit right in with Tweeting Juba’s friendly and helpful character, and that helped make charitable endeavours such as his Moneigh a resounding success.
Tweeting Juba proved that a horse does not have to be a Grade I winner to garner an intense social media following. Connections and fans — at all levels of the game — should take what made Juba so successful on Twitter and translate that into more fun tweeting horse accounts. Have a character concept for the horse. Be kind. Be informative. Find a way for your tweeting horse to help the community. And, if you’re a fan thinking of starting an account for another person’s horse, reach out to their connections and build a relationship.