Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gentlemen Start Your Hashtags (Updated)

Updated: Tuesday ESPN's John Skipper told CNBC that ESPN is also cooperating with Twitter to control hashtags for live sporting events seen on the ESPN networks. Skipper admitted that while one goal is to make it easier for fans to see the content in one place, ESPN and Twitter will be inserting advertising into the hashtag streams and splitting the revenue. Maybe we finally got the real story that NASCAR never mentioned. Here is the video: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000091778

Amid the news from the All-Star festivities at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, there was one announcement that pertained to social media and NASCAR TV. An executive from Twitter and the Chief Marketing Officer of NASCAR announced a partnership that will begin with the Pocono race in June.

Here are some of the details in the media release:

NASCAR and Twitter announce a unique digital partnership that will create a new way for the sport's millions of fans to experience what happens inside NASCAR and its teams on race day.

During a race, when fans click on #NASCAR, search for #NASCAR on Twitter.com or visit twitter.com/#NASCAR, they'll reach a new Twitter experience where they will see the most relevant tweets from their favorite NASCAR drivers, NASCAR families, teams, commentators, celebrities and other racing fans and personalities.

Twitter.com/#NASCAR will be available starting with the Pocono Raceway race weekend and will be most active on Sunday, June 10, in conjunction with TNT's first of six television broadcasts of the Sprint Cup Series season. This new product will provide a complementary Twitter experience to TNT viewers looking for in-depth access to the happenings at the track and in the garage of a NASCAR race weekend.

Twitter is a simple concept. Each user selects from a huge list of folks on Twitter and creates a timeline that allows a stream of tweets from those selected to appear. A tweet can contain a link to a picture, video or webpage. This service is useful because it appears in real time and can be accessed on any kind of portable device.

Over the last few years, Twitter has gained a strong foothold with NASCAR fans. Teams, drivers, sponsors, tracks, and NASCAR officials have found it an incredibly quick way to get information to fans. The NASCAR media including the radio, TV and online news reporters have also gravitated to Twitter. News is now often reported first on Twitter and then in longer form on NASCAR news websites.

When an event is happening, Twitter uses hashtags. This feature has a # symbol and then a word or abbreviation. So, #BBMA was used for Monday's Billboard Music Awards. Twitter users just type that into the search box and all the tweets with that hashtag pop right up. It's a handy feature.

This hashtag search is automatic, but that seems to be on the verge of changing. Here is what Twitter executive Omid Ashtari explained on the topic of NASCAR.

"During the race, we’ll curate accounts from the NASCAR universe and surface the best Tweets and photos from the drivers, their families, commentators, celebrities and other fans," said Ashtari.  Mashable reported Ashtari called the arrangement "part search algorithm and part editorial."

What Ashtari is talking about is a Twitter social media producer taking active control of the #NASCAR hashtag during a race and adding an editorial voice to what is now a fully automated feature. Control is a word that NASCAR already knows very well in terms of social media content created about the sport.

Just as SPEED created the Social Media Garage to try and encourage Twitter users to interact with the network's TV offerings and personalities, it seems that NASCAR and TNT are combining with Twitter to try the same thing on a much broader scale. There is little doubt that the content from the new supervised and coordinated #NASCAR hashtag is going to be actively featured during the TNT telecasts.

It's still a puzzling issue as to how many active Twitter users will follow a #NASCAR hashtag for an entire race. Most users have worked hard to create a timeline that is perfect for their taste in teams, news and information. The real impact of a coordinated and produced #NASCAR hashtag might be on non-users.

TV viewers not using Twitter will be seeing tweets about the sport on the TNT telecast throughout the race. Apparently, non-users will also have access to the #NASCAR hashtag stream of comments online. This second stream of information is one that current NASCAR fans on Twitter are very familiar with these days. There are many voices all competing for the attention of the NASCAR fan base. 

This shift signals the insertion of the marketing arm of NASCAR into social media. The issue of what content will be included also brings up the issue of what content will and can now be excluded. It's no secret that social media has empowered a portion of the fan base not pleased with the current state of affairs within the sport.

Ashtari said working with NASCAR will enable Twitter to learn how to move into a more editorial role when it comes to working with professional sports leagues. It's interesting to remember that a key attraction of Twitter to many is that users are judged on what they tweet solely by the other Twitter users.

By encouraging NASCAR fans to move to this controlled hashtag environment Twitter gets an opportunity to dip its toe into professional sports, TNT gets a unique TV feature and NASCAR gets a user-friendly feed full of positive content about the sport.

What is not very clear right now is what benefit fans get from the arrangement. While not actually blocking user access to any NASCAR content, this adding of an "editorial voice" during Sprint Cup Series races simply means fans will now see an edited and controlled stream of information on the #NASCAR hashtag.

For a global business built on delivering real time digital content, moving into controlling and editing that same content for a specific target group is a curious move for Twitter. Ultimately, all of this may be just a confirmation of the significant impact that NASCAR fans using Twitter are having on the sport.

We invite your comments on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

I'll be curious to see what this is all about. I really don't know how that can be improved other than letting those in the sport be themselves and no fines. I'm happy with what I have right now.

As always, will be looking to your guidance to make this easier to understand, JD.

fbu1 said...


I'm not sure that I understand the purpose of #nascar. Is it supposed to be interactive or will it be an alternate official media stream that is primarily a promotional tool?

I'm still wrestling with the concept of instant communication via social media. The benefits are obvious when the information sources are responsible individuals. However, social media has also revealed that a sizable segment of our fellow citizens, including race fans, are ignorant and cruel people who derive their pleasure by trashing and humiliating others.

Will a moderated #nascar delete or ignore anything that might, in the proper spirit, question a NASCAR decision or an official post. Or will they restrict the comments to those who are 100% positive. Naturally, nobody wants the cyber bullies to spam the stream, but will there be room for honest differences of opinion?

#nascar should be interesting.


Daly Planet Editor said...


Some good questions. In the past, a hashtag was just an auto-search function. Changing that to a controlled stream will be interesting.

The good thing about Twitter is that only folks you select appear in your timeline and it takes only a second to block a user who is out of line.

Just like Facebook, I appreciate that Twitter has controls built in to handle those kind of issues easily.

More info on this from TNT next week.


Steve L. said...

I've read this two or three times now and the thing that keeps popping out at me is "While not actually blocking user access to any NASCAR content, this adding of an "editorial voice" during Sprint Cup Series races simply means fans will now see an edited and controlled stream of information on the #NASCAR hashtag.

Edited and controlled are scary words to me and makes me wonder that if a remark is not positive, it will be deleted or not appear in the NASCAR hashtag. NASCAR has fined drivers in the past for Tweets that were detrimental to the Sport, what now they're going to fine the fan by either removing their Tweet or blocking them from the NASCAR Hashtag?

I'll be watching for more on this so I can wrap my head around what the purpose of all this actually is.

We can all still Tweet without using #NASCAR and I bet someone out there will be reading every single one of them. To be continued.....

KoHoSo said...

It is going to be quite interesting to see how Twitter controls #NASCAR with the deluge of tweets that come in with that hashtag during a race, many of which are not nice or suitable for a family audience. For both NASCAR's and Twitter's sake, I also hope they have an extremely Net-savvy person directing this effort because the payoff for a good, motivated troll would be tremendous.

Mike in Pittsburgh said...

Like you said there is certain people I follow and certain people I don't want to hear from.

I don't want to hear a sanitized version when something happens which is what I'm going to get.

When I look at #nascar I should get everything everyone is thinking and if I want something from NASCAR it should be @nascar

If Twitter is going to manipulate the search functions its going to as useless as the website or the Fox broadcast.

The Loose Wheel said...

I will further question, is this being done by NASCAR themselves or is it being done by Turner. Since Turner pretty much (from my understanding) controls all online NASCAR content. Since it's being tied to the NASCAR on TNT portion of the season, it makes me wonder.

Be curious how it shakes out once NASCAR has full control of it's online rights.

Spring Rubber said...

Two things I worry about:

1)TNT's broadcasts being bloated with Tweets and Twitter hype nonstop.

2)TNT differing to Twitter as people's primary source of information and thus not providing as much info in their broadcasts.

I sure hope these don't come true.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to wait and see what happens. But from what I've read from various sources including the press it seems like Nascar wants to take control and add a form of censorship "so that only good things" appear under that hashtag. Twitterers are smart and will find another hashtag to use in its place to vent should they start with the censorship. Hope I'm wrong.

Tracy D said...

All I can say is WOW. If Nascar thinks it can control the Twitter flow. . .good luck with that. Either they'll add Tweets they dislike to the "actions detrimental to" Big Fine list, or they'll demand each team have a Nascar official examine every Tweet before it's posted if they're determined to control the Twitter flow. Can you see fans tolerating that nonsense? Sadly, I think Nascar wants control over this freewheeling, instant connection between fans and the pros.

Colorado said...

I sense an impending landslide of DW -type tweets, where all the drivers, etc. will pour the Kool Aid all over the fan-tweeters. DW probably cried and moaned about being picked on after his tweets, so NASCAR comes to his aid, and then hides their real intent with "this is the way to connect with your favorite,etc." I wouldn't trust NASCAR any more than I would trust DW.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. People have already used #nascar for years. I also don't understand the advantage of NASCAR aggregating drivers, etc when Twitter is pretty much set up to do that already based on who you follow. Seems like a useless announcement to me.

OSBORNK said...

I think NASCAR is doing this to control the message. I think they will choose positive tweets and avoid anything critical of the sport. They have been able to control the TV partners, drivers, owners and others directly associated with the sport but they have been shocked by the message the fans have been putting out on social media. This is the first attempt to control the fans.

Ron said...

Ooh, I can't wait for NASCAR to start censoring the voices critical of #NASCAR! We'll have to adapt by using a modified hashtag like...oh, I don't know...like #NASCAR1 or #NASCARuncensored maybe...

GinaV24 said...

I'm not interested in an "edited" version, especially not one where NASCAR is controlling the message. I think I'll keep following twitter in the regular fashion with my own selections.

If NASCAR wants to control the message, someone ought to have a talk with people like Robin Pemberton who've apparently never taken any lessons in PR and how to keep their customers happy.

I'll give them a clue - it isn't by insulting them.

Vince said...

Sounds like a good thing to me especially for Twitter noobs. As long as NASCAR doesn't get into the censorship business.

Daly Planet Editor said...


When NASCAR is officially involved, you are absolutely right about creating positive content despite the reality.

If this new "us vs. fans" mentality continues to spread, it's not going to yield good results.


Garry said...

Vince: NASCAR is in the censoring business. Always have been. From the boycott in 1969 with the PDA, where Big Bill pulled a gun on the drivers, to the "secret fines" in modern day. As I've stated before, when a revolution happens, the oppressing party starts to silence the critics, but eventually cannot stop the people. Message to NASCAR: We're coming. And there ain't nothing you can do to stop it.

Roadgeek Adam said...

I so hope that TNT runs in HD so its blocked on my SD TV.

Most people know, despite my age, my hatred for that site. I cannot see how this improves the sport any, considering the backlash we're getting as fans.

AncientRacer said...

"Curate" is an interesting choice of terms and I picked up on it immediately in the press release last week.

If I had to guess I would guess #NASCAR is, due to the structure of the sport, e.g. one "Major League" game per week over a very long season, being willing enlisted as the Guinea Pig for a method of truly monetizing Twitter by controlling and commercializing content. As sports go NASCAR has a history of a near-fanatical obsession with control, but I would note (just for example) the NFL does too and all sports leagues want to make more and more money.

The trick to now has been how to do this and I predict an evolution has begun. The simple #NASCAR will evolve and will become the only means one can follow, oh say, the driver currently known as #Kesolowski, etc.

#NASCAR's long season and fan concentration for marquee events will help in the development and once it is underway a stop will be put to the squawking and bedlam of the uninformed, the ignorant and the irrational malcontents who disturb the peace.

We will have no more needy fans. We will all be happy.
And #Boogity will shine down upon the Land.

So let it be #Written; so let it be #Done

The Mad Man said...

Controlling the message has been going on since Bill France Sr brought in journalists, got them drunk, and had models parading around in front of the journalists.

NASCAR will probably do as they have done all along. Any criticism, constructive or not, will be stifled so that the "happy happy joy joy" message is sent out to maintain the illusion that everything is beautiful in the NASCAR world.

Sophia said...

I worry about TNT bloating the show w tweets, too.

For crying out loud every business has a FB & Tw account. It's all so corporate & in some cases sanitized.

I liked twitter better years ago but then again, I think FB STINKS w all the corporate sites too. Some just sit there, a few mom & pop shops, I understand to keep in good with customers, feedback, to fix a gripe.

But it dilutes the original way of twitter for individuals. Now folks use it to "sell things or sell ideas" or chastise fans as in the case of NASCAR.

Like news outfits tweet about accidents, fires, local happenings without knowing the who, what, when, where, how and tweet too SOON before getting out facts.

Thus you gotta be sure who you follow and who you RT (repeat the tweet)

I'm careful who I follow so it should be interesting to see how TNT does this since their broadcast in the past have been good!

Also sorry to read on Twitter Bob Jenkins is retiring due to ill wife. Will miss him in Indycar and hope they don't bring back that Marty guy with the fake excitement!

Can't find official link to the Jenkins story as of this post. Best to he and his wife, though.

PS Remember when word veri was easier to read & had less than 14 characters? Me either ;-)

Buschseries61 said...

I'm not on Twitter, but I do like to check some of the pages by people in the sport.

I'm not thrilled about putting twitter posts on the TNT broadcast every ten seconds. It's useful for viewers to ask questions or for the booth to get more information. But I really don't care what ___________'s wife says about her husband.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Might freak you out a bit when DeLana Harvick, Samantha Busch and Denny Hamlin's mom tweet race into you will not get on the FOX telecast.

Sometimes, Twitter is the ultimate reality check.


Eric B said...

I have read the Jeff Gluck's(http://www.sbnation.com/nascar/2012/5/18/3029244/nascar-twitter-partnership-2012/in/2788889) Release on this and it shines a little bit more light on your worries:

{Both positive and negative tweets will be visible on the page, he said. If the tweet is one that "resonates," it could end up as featured content – even if it doesn't put NASCAR in a positive light.}

I dont think this is meant to censor fans but rather bring the tweets that have importance & merit to the top.

"#NASCAR sucks" will NOT be a tweet you see but occasionally u'll see random people tweet that in #NASCAR.

"i dont think #NASCAR should have fined kurt busch" is one you may see for example.

i would venture to say #NASCAR is one of the most used sports hashtags yearly. there are so many "Bots" that post under that like 3rd party travel agencies, ticket brokers like stub hub etc. this will clean all that up so the #NASCAR feed is relevant to fans.

I have seen some1 who went mudding in a truck use the hashtag #nascar. that is not relevant on raceday.

AncientRacer said...

That is why I said "evolve" "development," JD.

An effective means must be found to control any untoward outbursts from Denny Hamlin's mom.


Anonymous said...

Nascar has zero credibility with me. There will never be unvarnished truth if they are even remotely involved. No matter how much they deny it, there will be retribution if Nascar writers/TV personnel say negative things that are factualy true

Daly Planet Editor said...


Please refrain from posting links in the comments section as Blogger does not support hyperlinks.

Gluck and many other NASCAR bloggers repeated what Twitter and NASCAR said in the press conference.

There is no other Twitter hashtag, including #NFL and #NBA that needs editorial control.

Inserting a producer adds three elements. One, passing along tweets that Twitter and NASCAR see as relevent. Two, adding content to the stream to support Twitter and NASCAR agendas. Three, eliminating "negative" tweets as part of the big movement this year to place the blame for everything wrong with the sport on a mysterious group of fans.

Please refer to my earlier columns about Darrell Waltrip calling out Twitter as something that is bad for the sport and Robin Pemberton called "needy" the fans who tweeted that TV should show debris when a questionalble caution is thrown in a Sprint Cup Series race.

Social media is having an effect on NASCAR and there is an ongoing struggle to figure out how to deal with it and who should be in charge of it.

As NASCAR transitions all the digital assets away from Turner and brings them in-house it will be interesting to see if a diverse social media community blooms or if "brand marketing" tactics will be used to divide fans into either supporters or haters.

Away from the track, the evolution of NASCAR's social media presence may be the biggest story of the year.


Daly Planet Editor said...


If Denny's mom updates me on pit road penalties that TV does not, she can tweet all she wants during the race IMHO.

The amount of NASCAR race information available on Twitter that never makes it to the TV telecast is amazing.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see some of that content. Sounds like to see spam and other things I'm not interested in filtered out. I hope this is more of a robot tahn an editor.

Anonymous said...

Not only will this introduce censorship to a previously uncensored medium, it will also introduce a delay. It will require some amount of time for a human somewhere to read, comprehend and make a decision on every Twitter message that has the hashtag on it. One of the great things about Twitter is it immediate nature. Add into it a team of censors having to rule on each message before it is released to the public is sure to take some of that away.

Dennis said...

So, if I Tweet "@NASCARonFox Pan the cameras back! #NASCAR", will people see this if they have #NASCAR as a "search" hashtag or are all tweets containing #NASCAR going to undergo an approval first?

West Coast Kenny said...


As others have said, in the presser, the Twitter PR person said that negative tweets will appear too.

Sure. How many #phantomdebriscaution tweets will they permit.

I'll bet if there are enough, Robin Pemberton will stop it. Oh, wait, the ossified Pembersaurus doesn't understand this newfangled Internet thing the kids do. He trusts his semaphore. (See J.D.'s post about him telling us all to "get a life.")

How many #rain tweets will they display? (A NASCAR play-by-play announcer told me they specifically do not mention rain because their research says people start switching in anticipation.) If there's rain 5 miles away and it's headed to the track, it might explain a crew chief's decision not to pit or only gas and go.

Something tells me this is going to be like the song, "Home on the Range." ("Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word.")

I'm from #Missouri on this. #NASCAR and #Twitter will have to show me.


Joj said...

Well this should be interesting...
Hopefully it gets more casual fans involved.

I have worked to get my twitter race feed just like I want it. Not real sure about the "editorializing" of a nascar hashtag.

Actually (tongue in cheek) maybe its NASCARs way of helping us fans not be so "needy"
WV= grangive oldscum !?

diane said...

I have a firm belief that this will progress in an Orwellian fashion. This is a definite attempt to control the message.

OSBORNK said...

I think the ESPN interview on MSNBC shows the main reason NASCAR and Twitter is partnering up. They are going to fill it with ads because apparently, there is not enough of them on TV.

With the addition of a bunch of ads and the cleansing editing, I'm afraid they are going to kill any reason for fans to follow #NASCAR on Twitter at all.

Joj said...

Now it makes sense. Splitting ad $$
I see clearly now.

After thinking about the original post my husband & I were wondering where the $$ were gonna come in at....

He had a few interesting questions about the #hashtag scheme

1 relevant to who? the censor?
2 who decides whats relevant to us?
3 Who is worthy? What race teams top 35? Cars on lead lap?
Popular drivers? Those who pay?

All that changed with you update! We got our answer, just show me the money! NASCAR will be there

GinaV24 said...

Well, that's just great! More ads, wow, what else could a stupid needy fan want? Censorship AND ads, #NASCAR will soon be left off my twitter list.

crabber1967 said...

Well...Well... Well... NASCAR says they will "curate" the Tweets they show... I see the word "curate" as more non-negative 'corporate-speak' that means they will be censoring any negative Tweets. Anyone who saw my [@crabber1967] Tweets at the end of the All-Star race will see things that WON'T appear on a "curated" site. IMHO. I had to turn the TV to another channel as soon as Darth Hendrick did NOT fall off the car window as JJ gave him a ride, as I knew that the drivel about the wonderful-ness that is Everything Hendrick would begin to spew from the mouth of "dw" [lowercase intentional.] I doubt NASCAR will be able to control public opinion in the ultimate public forum: Twitter.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

The best thing about Twitter is being able to choose who you follow.

I rarely use the # feature. When I have taken a look, much of it is meaningless drivel.

I don't want to see ads. Unless that means they will reduce the ad content on the telecast. Then I hope tons of folks follow #NASCAR. LOL!

I have seen #'s "hijacked". So I can understand why NASCAR would want to do something to control content while making a few more bucks.

Will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Of course I will trust that JD will give us the low down.

Charlie Spencer said...

This comes closer to what I want from Twitter than what I've seen in previous experiments. I get more information than I can assimilate, much of it off the subject I'm interested. In short, I need someone to filter it for me; unlike some of you, I haven't figured out to do that effectively for myself. I don't want to subscribe to multiple posters; I want to subscribe to subject-specific hashtags. That way, I'll only get what people post during the race on Sunday without being bombarded by their personal, non-racing posts the rest of the week. This sounds closer to what I'd like than what I've seen before, but I've just finished my biennial Twitter exploration so it will be a while before look at it again.

As to TNT and others overdoing the Twitter content inserted in to broadcasts, I confess I don't get it (like many other aspects of Twitter and social media in general). If I wanted to see what was on Twitter, wouldn't I be looking at it? Broadcast partners don't stream MRN / PRN audio during the race (although many wish they would); how is this different? It's just another distracting bar across the screen, leaving the images smaller than ever.

Anonymous said...

It went live today on https://twitter.com/hashtag/nascar . I believe that it is separate from the #nascar that anyone can put in their tweets. This seems like a twitter for lazy NASCAR fans to follow easily during the race w/o having to figure out twitter and follow 100's of NASCAR personalities. I created a new account and signed up to follow the #NASCAR page and it automatically signed me up to follow 15 nascar personalities who tweet alot: @nascar , @nascar_tnt, @jimmiejohnson, biffle, kenseth, kyle petty, delana, jeff gordon, keselowski, samantha busch, etc. Seems like a marketing ploy to get people to sign up to twitter while at the same time enhancing the TV coverage. I expect some other sports or live events to go the same route in the future.