A friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to this post, “NASCAR knows more about Twitter than you do.” A title like that just begged me to read it. You know what? Stephanie Foster’s post is right on the money. NASCAR is doing everything right with Twitter while so many companies, organizations, and sporting leagues have failed.
Some of NASCAR’s keys to success:
- A very open and liberal Twitter policy.
NASCAR not only allows their people to tweet they want them to do it. Foster states, “Unlike other professional sports leagues, NASCAR allows — even encourages — its drivers to tweet, right up until “game time,” the moment the driver gets in the car. In a November 2012 interview with ESPN, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said, “We encourage our drivers to participate in social media. We feel we have the most liberal social media policy in all of sports, and the access we provide is the best in all of sports.”
I am very curious as to whether they have some sort of Twitter boot camp available to their drivers, teams and specialists. NASCAR is not adverse to fining drivers or others for inappropriate behavior or tweets, but it seems with their very open policy we would be more controversy and inappropriate tweets compared to other leagues that have stricter policies.
- Full scale integration of Twitter.
NASCAR didn’t just say it was OK to tweet, they assimilated it into their sport. Foster writes, “NASCAR became the first professional sports league to sign an official partnership with Twitter. The largest initiative was the launch of a platform that collected tweets from drivers, media and fans that allowed even faster engagement on the site. NASCAR also made Twitter a real marketing priority, painting drivers’ Twitter handles on the cars, hosting Twitter-only contests and race day “tweetups,” and allowing fans to tweet questions to race analysts during pre- and post-game programming.” (Read an article about NASCAR’s Fan and Media Engagement Center on race day…kind of interesting.) Now compare that with MLB’s social media policy prohibiting the linking to or use of images, MLB sites, etc. without obtaining MLB’s permission. MLB missed the mark entirely, you want people to go to the MLB sites, you want them to see your product. Twitter is a conversation, if you must get permission to link to an MLB site then the conversation is stunted. I get MLB’s thinking, they are worried about brand association. However, I would think NASCAR is equally concerned about their brand, yet the two organizations approach to their bran on social media is vastly different.
One thing that Foster doesn’t directly mention but is the whole driving force between successful Twitter campaigns and languishing ones is engagement. Foster describes the engagement with the fan when she discusses NASCAR’s policies and integration with Twitter. The liberal policy opens up the opportunity to engage people. The integration is important but not everyone is NASCAR and have the ability to integrate so fully with Twitter. The engagement with the fans is the reason why NASCAR went for full integration with Twitter. Engagement is such a tricky area for many companies, hospitals, librarians, and others to master. Until recently, engagement with consumers was not so immediate and usually did not lend itself to be so public at the press of an enter key. Companies, hospitals, universities, and regular people were used to having far more control over the discussion and message. Not so on Twitter. Twitter is all about engaging with people and also giving up some control on how your message is disseminated and perceived. That is why organizations or people who only promote their activities fail at getting their message. They are no better than spam. Organizations or people who don’t RT or respond to tweets, whose Twitter or Facebook accounts are black hole where only messages are posted but never replied to miss the point. You must engage with people for them to stay interested and keep following.
While the post talks about NASCAR’s use of Twitter to engage its users, the principle of engagement is still applicable to librarians, hospitals, universities and library vendors.