West Hartford native and Kingswood Oxford grad Matt Shulman has been integral in connecting NASCAR to its social audience. Here’s more from him on NASCAR’s social campaigns and their Northeast engagement:
How are you finding the NASCAR audience is responding to your various social media campaigns? How is marketing the sport different than say five or 10 years ago?
At this year’s Daytona 500, during a race that had been postponed more than 24 hours due to rain, with our stands still packed with fans, one of our biggest international stars, Juan Pablo Montoya, had a brake failure and collided with a jet dryer. While the jet dryer was being safely removed from the track and the asphalt was cleaned, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski began tweeting. He was sharing what he was witnessing from his front row seat during the red flag and our fans were loving it. Brad actually broke Charlie Sheen’s original Twitter following record that night! Social media is so important to our sport and our fans, that we also became the first sports league to announce a partnership with Twitter.
Our brand loyal fans are the reason why NASCAR has more Fortune 500 company involvement than any other sport. Our sport has a military flyover at every event, and we and our corporate partners honor the men and women in uniform throughout our 10-month season. Thus, we wanted to launch a comprehensive social campaign entitled, “NASCAR Unites: An American Salute,” in which we profiled military heroes and their families during Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Fans were invited to visit Facebook.com/NASCAR and leave personal messages of thanks. We were so touched to read some of these messages directed to our troops at Ford Bragg, ships in the Arabian sea, families at home and soldiers currently stationed in Afghanistan. We even paid homage to the families of the USS Vicksburg over Facebook and our sport hosted them at the Coke Zero 400 race weekend. This was one of the most successful programs we have ever executed over social media.
One other item I helped to develop is with UPS, and it’s an online video series. The new series features six videos, each showcasing UPS’ logistical capabilities through racing themed content. The videos live on a custom microsite developed with Turner Digital and hosted on NASCAR.com as well as on UPS Racing’s Facebook page. The videos cover topics such as the evolution of the modern day pit crew and online racing simulation.
How do you intend on expanding NASCAR business and fan engagement through technology and social media?
We’re increasingly making fans a part of our Official NASCAR fan events and enabling them to help us produce and share our content. During NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, we ask fans to be a part of our show, “NASCAR After The Lap” which is sponsored by two official NASCAR partners, Ford and Coca-Cola. Fans in attendance interact with the Top-12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers over their Sprint phones and via Facebook and Twitter. Last year, our champion, Tony Stewart, actually drove his race car into the venue, which set the tone for the event’s highlight: Jeff Gordon’s rousing breakdancing performance. The event is hosted by one of our favorite NASCAR personalities, ESPN Pit Road Reporter, Jamie Little. Jamie knows the drivers so well, that she can get them to admit a lot of things you would never hear them say over their in-car radios. We created a website for fans called Nascarafterthelap.com, so they can learn more about this fun event, as well as enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to Vegas, and win a 2013 Ford F-150 FX4 truck.
What can you say about what business is like for NASCAR in the Northeast? The general perception might be that it’s more of a “southern thing.”
Business is solid for us in the Northeast, and we have a tremendously loyal fan base here. Almost 25% of the people who live in the Northeast are NASCAR fans. ESPN, a fantastic broadcast partner for us, helps to get the word out about NASCAR constantly throughout the Northeast and the nation. ESPN broadcasts 14 of our NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the next one this Sunday night in Atlanta at 7:30 p.m., as well as NASCAR Nationwide Series races. NASCAR was the #2 rated regular season sport on television in all Northeast designated market area’s, including New Haven, New York, Boston, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.
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