How INDYCAR Uses Social Media to Engage with Fans Worldwide
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) May 26, 2016
— Matt Archuleta (@indy44) May 23, 2016
We’ve also been doing end-of-day highlight clips on Instagram that have been really popular.
How much of your reach is global?
Some of our most popular drivers are Brazilian, Colombian, Canadian, French, and British. Our reach is big in these countries.
In fact, since Juan Pablo Montoya joined the series, Colombia has ranked third on our traffic source list–the United States and Canada being first and second. On our Facebook page this month, we reached over 3.1 million people in Brazil!
How are you using live video to bring racing to people who can’t be at the track?
We stream all of our non-televised track activity on YouTube and have recently added Facebook Live to the arsenal.
Facebook Live has a 90-minute limit, so during May it’s a bit tough, as our sessions are sometimes six hours long. So we’ve taken to pushing “happy hour” (the last hour of track activity) to Facebook for fans to enjoy.
We also have a live video Facebook chat with each race’s Verizon P1 Award winner (fastest qualifier) and the race winner. This allows fans to get a one-on-one conversation going with the drivers. It’s been really neat to see how everybody has embraced it.
A couple weeks ago, after Simon Pagenaud won the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, he actually didn’t want to stop answering fan questions during the chat! We ran out of time and he kept going. The same thing happened when we let Ed Carpenter Racing’s three drivers take over. The chat ended up lasting almost 40 minutes.
How do you translate fan feedback to use by the rest of the organization?
We are always listening. Whether it be in providing real-time feedback to a facility regarding complaints from fans or identifying areas where we need to clarify rules changes or developments with our product, we’re constantly paying attention to what the fans tell us. In the past year, we’ve made changes to our platforms and quickly reverted those based on fan feedback.
It’s our job to provide the best experience possible for the fans. If we’re not listening to what they want, we can’t make adjustments to ensure they’re consuming what we provide. That includes our on-track product. We review our social data on a minute-by-minute basis with our race data to see if there are moments, types of moves on track, certain types of racing, or incidents that drive spikes in social activity. Our hope is to identify what makes fans love our sport and create more of it.
Which social channels do you want to try next?
Snapchat is what we’re most interested in right now. Our drivers are very active, and the Indy 500 is going to be featured as a live story for the next three years.
We’re also working with their group on getting more of our races covered as live stories in our other markets. It’s an incredible platform and talks to a group of people that we need to reach. My only frustration with it is the lack of measurement involved. It’s tough to know if you’re really being successful. I hope that they’ll include more measurement for brands moving forward.
What’s the #1 thing you’ve learned from your experience doing social for INDYCAR?
That’s a tough one. I’d say patience and a better sense of humor. Social media is tough. There are people out there whose only persona online is to be snarky or negative. I’ve had to learn to laugh through some of the tough times.
Being a part of the event business means that you can plan for everything, or so you think. There’s always one thing that pops up unexpectedly and kind of knocks you back on your heels. I’ve had to learn to be patient and agile and stay solution-oriented when we have problems. If the web stream goes down during a session, you’ve got to keep calm and get through the troubleshooting. It’s technology. Things fail. You have to be ready to deal with the negativity and find a solution quickly without pulling out your hair.