Users prove Facebook is for more than just catching up with friends

More than 1300 Facebook friends have turned a 20-year-old horse-lover’s hobby into a nation-wide business.
And she says it would never have happened without the social network’s help.
A few years ago, Facebook was synonymous with young people pouting and planning parties.
But these days, many users log on for a different reason: they have realised that the social media giant is an excellent business tool.
Two savvy Sunshine Coast ladies revealed how they have used Facebook to launch their careers.
Stephanie Cameron has been around horses since she was six years old, so it seemed only natural for the Landsborough resident to start her own business for horse lovers: WinnersTouch Browbands.
“It has really taken off since I made the Facebook page and has grown into an Australian and New Zealand-wide company,” Stephanie said.
“When a horse is in a competition, most riders use a browband, basically a final touch to your horse to make its head look more professional and showy,” she said.
Most WinnersTouch customers are from Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales – the most horse-populated areas in the country, Stephanie said.
Many people in the horseriding community use Facebook to network, and Stephanie has met many like-minded individuals.
“We all help each other out by sharing each other’s pages,” she said.
University of the Sunshine Coast Advertising lecturer Kelly Choong agreed that Facebook’s one-click ‘share’ feature is a major drawcard for business owners.
“With the rising cost of advertising through traditional media, many companies are now turning to the cheaper option of social networks,” he said.
“But because comments are placed in real time, it can also be difficult to monitor and control unwarranted opinions.”
Despite this, he said Facebook is an important promotion tool for today’s business.
Another Sunshine Coast local who has recognised this potential is Jasmin Smith, owner of High Life Beauty Boutique.
From her salon in Pelican Waters, 19-year-old Jasmin specialises in hair extensions, nails, tanning and more.
She also holds a Certificate IV in Photography, and loves to give people makeovers followed by a photoshoot in her spare time.
She chose Facebook for her business because it is free, but also because of its flexibility.
“I am able to have everything on the page including a store to sell hair extensions. It’s easy and is very popular,” she said.
Having worked in the beauty industry for the last three years, Jasmin discovered that Facebook was a great way to reach new clients.
“Most of my customers are aged between 14 and 40, and are from the Sunshine Coast all the way to the Gold Coast,” she said.
Perhaps it’s because these Sunshine Coast businesswomen have grown up in the Internet age, or maybe young people are simply growing more outgoing when it comes to commerce.
Whatever the explanation, Stephanie and Jasmin belong to a new age of Gen-Y entrepreneurs who are tapping into the potential of social media, and getting down to business.
By Prue Leigh

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