In recent years, Formula 1 has gone through some of the biggest changes in its history, with the transition to smaller engine cars and a real focus being put into the ecological aspect of the sport. This has all been incredibly well documented, but an aspect which hasn’t been touched upon properly is the advancements in technology and specifically the introduction of social media.
If we asked you what happened in 2005 and 2006 respectably, most would point towards a certain Spaniard taking two world championships aboard his Renault. Not the launch of Mark Zuckerburg’s social network facebook (2005) and Jack Dorsey’s micro blogging site, twitter (2006). These two American start-ups have since become an enormous part of our daily lives, and have proved incredibly successful in Motorsport circles.
The problem before social media was simple: the fans didn’t get to see anything that wasn’t shown on television or printed in the press. It’s hardly breaking news when Alonso and Webber go out to dinner, or that Lewis Hamilton’s dog is wearing a flat peak, but that is exactly the type of information fans want to know – the life behind the camera.
As far as mainstream sport goes, nothing else comes close to the glamour or spectacle of Formula 1. The on track action (in our opinion) only makes up around 70% of the sport as a whole. It’s the work that goes on back at the factory, behind garage doors at race weekends and in the ever-enormous motorhomes present in the paddock at each Grand Prix. This is where fans can only ever dream of visiting, and for that exact reason is one of the most interesting aspects.
Why use it?
The first and most obvious reason to use social media is for increased team coverage, and as such sponsor exposure. Gone are the days when a logo on the side of a car or on the drivers overalls was enough, sponsorship today is far more than that. Looking at it from a marketing perspective (brushing over the corporate hospitality and businesses to business opportunities), social media offers an incredible way to really target fans who are interested and to get them involved with the brand. Few realise the targeting options which are now available and the tracking which marketers have – from choosing the age, gender, relationship status and interests of fans to target, to the tracking that follows you from the social network across to the appropriate website.
Having a presence is one aspect, but engaging and posting interesting content is an entirely new one. A like/follow/circle/view is one part of the puzzle, but engaging users and getting them involved is quite another. Sport in general is unique in the business world, because the customers (fans) are interested in what’s going on. Most industries are still understanding social media and questioning the benefits, whereas sport is able to reap the rewards. The reason it’s so successful is the mindset we’re in when visiting a social network. The mind set of a facebook user can be likened to going out with friends, it’s all about socialising. Sport fits perfectly into this category, whereas traditional business doesn’t fit as well. If you were in a bar, and someone started talking about sport – you’d consider than normal. If somebody came up to you and started talking about a generic washing up liquid, you’d think they were a little strange.. right? It’s exactly the same when you move this experience online, and is why so many large brands are still struggling to make it pay.
Keys to success in Formula 1 and Motorsport
The first key is to be present on the major networks and create specific and interesting content for each one. Facebook, twitter, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram are the key places to be, with flickr, Linkedin, Vine and foursquare following suit.
Each channel has a very different feel to it. Twitter for example is a fantastic place to post lap-by-lap updates during the race, because tweets have a short lifeline and aren’t going to overwhelm the user. Facebook is the best place to post your full weekend race image gallery, with easy browsing between images for users who are used to scrolling through. Instagram is where you post the really interesting imagery, whether it’s an awesome shot from the weekend or a quirky piece of local culture. Youtube’s the place for race reviews or promotional shoots, with Linkedin being best for posting career opportunities.
Next up, it’s engaging with your fans. Some are really good at this, but a number of teams and drivers are equally terrible. If you’re representing a team or driver in Formula 1, it’s going to be impossible to reply to every interaction. The sheer number of them will mean that it’s simply not possible. It depends on the size of your following, but we’ve found even replying to one to five tweets per week can make a huge difference. The Lotus F1 team are really good at this, whereas other teams such as Ferrari simply don’t reply to fans.
Being unique with your content and humorous is the hardest but potentially the most lucrative technique of all. Content which is a little different, and amusing really stands out. If you look at some of the most successful posts, you’ll see that they all share this common trait. Take a recent post from the Lotus F1 team. Having both cars penalised for the Canadian GP isn’t ideal, but creating an image teasing themselves about the problems went down really well with fans.
Everyone. Fans get to see the real world of Formula 1, teams have direct access to an enormous (and highly targeted audience) and sponsors are able to directly promote to engaged consumers.
Once you get onto the inter-team battles, it’s Lotus Renault that are currently leading the way. With a twitter following of 220,000 they might not have the largest, but they receive more retweets and replies than anyone else. The way they’ve done it is simple. By being funny, witty, interesting and most importantly ENGAGING with real life fans. Especially on twitter, they engage like no other team on the grid. Got something really funny to say about them? They’ll often reply. Mentioning them in a news article? You’ll see them favourite it.
— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) April 21, 2013
The Winners – 5G’s Formula 1 Social Media Grid
7. Force India
10. Marussia F1 Team
4. Toro Rosso
7. Force India
10. Marussia F1 Team
5G Creative are the Motorsport social media experts. Working with drivers and teams across the world to optimise and develop social channels. Not appearing at the top of the list? Contact us today for a free consultation.