Tag Archives: fans

Four years of racing and social media

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Today four years ago, I wheeled my car into the parking lot at 1500 Highway 19/41 in Hampton not too long after I got a phone call gauging my interest in a job that entailed a growing trend of social media and implementing it at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Now, four years later, it’s so hard to believe how big social media has taken off. In 2009, most brand barely had a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter. Now, they cannot afford not to, and more energy than ever before is being directed towards social media than before.

Any time you work within sports, chances are good that you’ll have some memorable experiences, and there have certainly been more than a few for me at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

1. You’re the brand advocate.

Thanks to mobile devices in part, more fans than every before reach out to brands with feedback and questions around the time of events. I’ll never forget then fan who was unhappy with a seat location on Friday of race weekend and let us know about it via social media. We were able to get their seating info and get them taken care of, and that fan went out of their way to make a post on our wall singling out our customer service efforts. That process began because of social media. There was also a Facebook wall post from a family member of a serviceman killed in Afghanistan, lamenting that the upcoming race would be their family’s first without them. We were able to do a few things for this family on race weekend – and fans in a campground put up a makeshift banner ensuring fans to sign it in memory.

You are the face of your brand on social media and if fans are excited about your brand, or displeased, you are the first one that they will turn to.

2. Social Media Is Two-Way

Yes, it is a valuable tool to sell tickets, but social media cannot only be about promotional elements. Do what you can to show your fans that you’re just like them…ask about their lives, find out what makes them tick. When you know your fans, you can produce better content.

3. Victory Lane

I’ll never forget being in victory lane during my first race weekend. It’s the place all drivers and crew members strive for, and being in the midst of it is surreal. The cool thing was that Richard Petty Motorsports was in victory lane…which meant seeing Richard Petty himself. I instantly thought of my grandad who died in 1998 who was a huge fan of “The King.”

4. Wear A Flak Jacket

You have to have thick skin in this deal. If fans on social media are unhappy with your brand, you may very well be the one feeling the biggest punch of that criticism. Don’t take it personal. I’ve been through two pretty heavy crisis events at AMS.

The first came in 2010 with the news that we would no longer have a spring race. Having to be the person to tell fans that the days of joining us for a March race weekend were over…was very sobering. Even though you knew the backlash was coming, that didn’t make it easy to face.

The second one was a year later with our Labor Day Weekend race being postponed from Sunday night to Tuesday morning due to rain. Obviously, many fans were not happy and they quickly took to social media to express their displeasure. In a situation like that, all you can do is keep your head up and make sure all response is aligned and to keep everything even-keeled. 

5. Laugh at yourself.

Accidentally playing “Crazy Train” instead of The National Anthem over the sound system at an event with 5,000 people is embarrassing at first, but becomes funnier as time goes on.

 

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Pinterest Still A Good Option For Sports Brands

During the Christmas holidays, when I told my mom that the brand whose social media I manage had a Pinterest page, she was somewhat surprised and curious. What in the world, she wondered, could a sports brand gain on Pinterest?

Actually, there is and continues to be quite a lot still to be gained from pinning and repinning.

It goes without saying that there are a lot of options out there to engage an audience via social channels. Some, like Facebook and Twitter, are more established that others.

Each time a new social media channel comes along, there’s the tendency to expand social reach there and do what you can to make your brand’s presence make an impact and stick.

That’s where brands such as Pinterest were about a year ago. Once the opportunity to create a Pinterest brand page, there may as well have been a ‘Oklahoma Land Rush’ to set a sports brand’s page up on Pinterest.

Now, a year later, it’s easy to move away from Pinterest and focus on areas such as Facebook or Twitter.

But Pinterest can still be very valuable for brands, as odd as some casual observers may find it.

For starters, if you have any merchandise to sell, it’s a tremendous tool, especially if its new.

Photos of great moments or fans having a great time? That can be a gold mine on Pinterest. If you can get fans to re-pin content like that, it can do a lot of engage fans – especially in off-peak times.

Here’s a look at who does it well among sports brands

The Portland Trail Blazers cast a wide net, posting content for current promotions, great historical moments and even use it as a means for fans to keep up with them on other social networks.

The University of Washington does a nice job of upselling the entire experience of being around Seattle and the UW campus.

In the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins use multiple boards to push out images of current and former players plus images of Penguins and hockey inspired food. Few things can energize fans for about the at-game experience than posting about and talking about food!

And who doesn’t love posting about their young fans? The Atlanta Falcons have taken advantage of that with a board of baby photos of fans in Falcons gear.

Pinterest is not a one-size-fits-all network. And with different brands looking to emphasize different things, that’s a good thing.

Social media lessons from ‘Nashville’

Within our household, ABC’s “Nashville” has become a favorite, either to watch live or catch up on later via DVR.

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As one working within social media, there are always instances which arise that can be applied to connecting audiences online. That happened this week.

This past week, one of the characters, Julliette Barnes (played by Hayden Pantierre) injected herself into the midst of a social media crossroads, one of which is very familiar to anyone managing a social brand.

Barnes went ‘off-script’ during a concert. After asking to see tweets about the concert, many negative, Barnes initially was taken aback. Later, however, she was referred to a video with overwhelmingly positive reviews.

The point is this. When you run a social media brand, especially when it’s only a few handle the messaging, it’s easy to take what is said about a brand personal. You are on the front line – you are excited to pass along the good but cower when being charred by the bad. It’s easy to be trapped into taking it way too personal.

But it’s always important to step back and look at the big picture. In social media, everyone has a voice, and odds are it’ll be on both ends of the spectrum no matter what you do. The key, however, is the embrace all facets of a social community.