NASCAR is not the first sport that comes to mind when thinking of pioneering partnerships with social media powerhouse Twitter. However, the two have formed a ‘first of its kind’ collaboration and created a platform that allows fans to see the sport from every angle possible. Fans can now find out who is pitting, how a car is doing, the condition of the track and more, simply by following #NASCAR on Twitter’s new events-based platform.
NASCAR has trailed other major sports in the development of its online fan resources for years, due to the deal they signed with Turner Sports, which had several obstacles to the provision of consumer related content. However, since buying back the rights from Turner to own its online presence, NASCAR has moved forward at a staggering pace.
When launching #NASCAR, Twitter mentioned that the event platform, launched for the Pocono 400 NASCAR race, was aimed at detailing the race experience for the consumer and not agreed in order to grow the NASCAR brand. So this unique partnership is designed purely to enhance the fan experience by putting insightful content at their fingertips.
It’s already possible to track a race on Twitter by following NASCAR officials, fans, media and team PR representatives, but now NASCAR and Twitter are making it easier. During a race, when fans click on #NASCAR, they’ll see the most relevant tweets from NASCAR drivers, NASCAR teams, commentators, celebrities and other racing fans all in one place. In essence it’s a mix of driver tweets from the tracks, fan opinions and observations, blog links and photos.
Why we like it…
NASCAR has 75 million fans tuning in regularly but it has lacked ‘one-on-one communications’ with those supporters. It’s because of this lack of conversation with fans that this partnership is seen as a significant move in the right direction for making one of the world’s largest sports ‘social’. So, if they can crack a strong social media presence and bring fans to the same place on a regular basis, there’s potential for getting in front of the fans on two screens — TV and tablet, at the same time.
The practice of watching TV while tweeting and texting is huge. Some 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smartphone owners picked up their devices at least once while watching TV in the fourth quarter of 2011, says researcher Nielsen. In April, the semi-final of the Champions League between Barcelona and Chelsea pulled in 13,684 tweets per second, surpassing the previous record of 12,233 during February’s Super Bowl. However, the recent EURO 2012 final between Spain and Italy in Kyiv smashed this record after logging 15,358 tweets per second at its peak. Brands and sponsors are now exploring how to maximise the two experiences for the consumer.
NASCAR and Twitter have broken the mould for sponsors, and rights holders, within this split-screen world of viewing major sporting events. They have become pioneers for the social media connection that brands seek during the live environment. Therefore, by creating this one engaging platform for fans to engage with the race, it has given fans easy and quick access to a wealth of content covering every possible angle of NASCAR.
Rachael Horwitz, a spokesperson from Twitter, has said that it is purely an “experiment” to see if the company can somehow make more of the insights whilst fans are watching live events, and engagement levels on the site jump. Based on this, we suspect other major sporting events and entertainment award ceremonies will react to this partnership with Twitter. This is because they already tend to incite a high volume of tweets, but could use the amalgamating functionality of this partnership to leverage the socialability of all stakeholders even further. Interestingly, though, the #NASCAR site is being run free of charge. As Horwitz continues to say: “This is about attracting more people to Twitter. How and if we monetize it is a question mark.”
Twitter has since announced a similar partnership with the European Football Championships, and we imagine there will be similar deals between major sports brands and governing bodies in the future.
By Adam Shapland on July 3rd, 2012