Dear Mr Ecclestone,

I felt the need to write this letter following on from recent comments and changes which are being made to our beloved sport, Formula 1. The comments are in relation to social media, and you stating that social media is shortlived. That’s alongside some of the ridiculous suggestions to “liven up” our sport, such as the new safety car restart procedure.

Bernie Ecclestone, in regards to social media and falling television figures

“But I think the change that is currently taking place is very shortlived, as these social media people are starting to think it is not as good as they thought.”

When asked if he believed F1 needed to change its approach, and officially embrace social media like other sports have done, he said: “No. We’re commercial… If they find people to pay us [to do that] then I will be happy.” Source, Autosport, 5th June 2014.

Firstly, lets look at a few facts. Facebook has 1 billion users with 802 million daily active users. Twitter has 250 million users. Youtube sees more than 1 billion unique users per month, with over 6 billion hours watched per month. Those are only the key channels, I’m not even mentioning current secondary channels (Instagram, Vimeo, Google+, Pinterest). These are channels which cannot be ignored, regardless of your personal opinion. Next, lets look at device useage. It’s changing, enormously. Check out the graph below to see how much of an impact tablets and smartphones are having. By ignoring social? You’re essentially saying you don’t really care about that segment. Yes, different channels have different solutions in place (Sky Go is good enough), but it’s fragmented and the casual fan isn’t going to sit and watch an entire race on a mobile device.

Source, Techcrunch Internet Survey 2014.

Looking at other sports will show you exactly how powerful it can be. Moto GP? They’ve utilised it incredibly effectively. Short clips are uploaded when incidents happen, social channels are active, users engage with them and they’re providing a fantastic service to users. At time of writing, they’ve have 316,211,433 views on Youtube alone. You know you can show ads to all those users.. right? Formula 1 has incredible content. Social media is designed for good content. It’s a match which could prove extremely successful, increase the reach of the sport (especially to a younger audience) and at the end of the day increase revenue for FOM. I could go on, providing you numerous other examples (WRC are very strong in this area, as are non Motorsports such as Fifa and the World Cup, but you probably don’t care – it’s all about the $$$s.)

A point I really want to address, and one which I feel will be close to your heart is how you can make money out of these channels. I’ll say it now, they’re not going to pay you for  to show F1 content. Fact. Having said that, you can still earn revenue from these channels – so I’ve put some suggestions for you below.

  • Youtube ads: All that content you’ve got? Upload it. Put ads at the start. You’ve got a readymade revenue source that can be up and running straight away. Pre roll ads, side ads, in video ads… the list goes on!
  • Social takeovers: You know how track advertising is sold? Why not do the same for your social channels? Segment your content into different sections, and sell off the sponsorship. Think about it, after every qualifying session, the Formula 1 channels could upload the pole position lap. That could be “brought to you by official timekeeper Rolex”. Straight away, you can reach millions of people – without any real cost to you.
  • Increased overall reach: At the end of the day (taking out the B2B side of things), brands want the logo’s they have to be seen. Alongside your television channels, adding an enormous social audience will mean you can charge even more. Winner, right?
  • Traffic generation: Social can and does generate a LOT of web traffic. That’s eyeballs on, or whichever site you’re sending them to. In turn, you can sell display ads, simples.

I’m really passionate about the use of social within Motorsport, and it’s incredibly frustrating when Formula 1 is missing such an incredible opportunity. You’ve got sites like WTF1 that have built huge fan bases simply by posting great content across social and on site. Heck, here at 5G we’ll create you the entire social media strategy, share insights from our range of Motorsport clients and get everything set up and help you select the right staff for FREE. You’re missing a big opportunity, not just for increasing the fan base but for generating increased revenue. If you’ve got 30 minutes spare, let me come and explain how to make money from social and increase the reach of the sport and at the end of the day, increase revenue for FOM.

Yours Faithfully,

James Dunford.

Chief pixel pusher at Motorsport social media agency 5G creative, and avid Formula 1 fan. @Jimbobarooney_d on twitter.

*Stats are from the respective platforms websites.

Agree with comments above? Sign this letter by adding your support in the comments, and don’t forget to share on social!

Oh, and I’m not alone – Toto Wolff has also argued with Mr E. Source, Autosport.