Monday, March 26, 2012

Social Media Invades NASCAR

As Brad Keselowski climbed out of his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge in Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway, he paused for a moment to take a picture of the reporters there alongside him.  Honestly, this didn’t come as a surprise to many NASCAR fans that are on Twitter. 

Social media is quickly becoming more present in the NASCAR world.  If you take a poll of how many NASCAR fans use a social media website during the week to keep up with racing news and to talk to other fans, and how many fans use social media during the race to see behind-the-scenes pictures and information, a clear majority would say that they do.  I can guarantee you that almost 40% of NASCAR fans are on these social media websites, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus, etc. 

Credit: Google Images

It seems that this year the social media has blown up - and many people took notice at Daytona when Brad Keselowski was tweeting during the Red Flag that ensued when Juan Pablo Montoya hit the jet dryer and it exploded, which set the track on fire.  Tweeting from the car, Brad was able to engage NASCAR fans in the Red Flag and talk to them, answering questions and tweeting pictures of the track and his fellow drivers standing outside their cars.  These few tweets helped him gain over 100,000+ followers on the popular 140-character social media website.

Twitter and Facebook are two of the biggest media outlets in the NASCAR world; you can find a good majority of the drivers, teams, and tracks on these two websites.  One of the major advantages of following your favorite driver on Facebook and Twitter is that you can see what they're doing while they're not at the track.  This allows you to get a better idea of what they're like while they're away from the track and what they do during their days at home.  Many people are surprised to find out that they are, indeed, regular people who go shopping at Target, food shopping at Food Lion, and do things around the house (besides annoying their wives or girlfriends)!  Another advantage is a large percentage of the drivers, teams, and tracks do trivia giveaways for tickets, pit passes, shirts, hats, autographs, etc., the list goes on and on.  It's also a great way to talk to your favorite drivers and ask them questions that you want answered, making you feel like you are a part of the drivers' lives - therefore making them more accessible. 

Unfortunately, with every advantage, there is a disadvantage.  A majority of the drivers are very careful about what they do and don't post because they (a) don’t want to make their fans mad (b) don’t want to make their sponsors mad and (c) don’t want to cause a riot among their followers.  This is why drivers such as Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., don’t have Twitter accounts out of fear that they will post something that isn't agreeable among their fans and sponsors.  If you think about it, it does make sense; by not having a Twitter, they can avoid all of the problems the other drivers who are very active on these websites worry about. 

If you have to judge social media on a whole - including the advantages and disadvantages - many people will say that it does help NASCAR grow as a sport, mainly because it is becoming more fan-friendly and interactive.  Thinking about it, 99.8% of you reading this article right now have found it through either Facebook or Twitter. 

Social media has helped shape our sport today - whether you feel it is positive or negative.

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