Thursday, June 7, 2012

NASCAR Emerges As Social Media Leader (Updated)

Updated: Told NASCAR and Twitter will be unveiling the new "landing page" for users of the #NASCAR hashtag sometime on Thursday. For you social media types, keep an eye on twitter.com/#nascar to see how this project of embellishing the #NASCAR hashtag experience on race day may look.

The idea of establishing a page for both users and non-users of Twitter as a dedicated "second screen" during the race is a bold one. It's a totally new concept and one that may bear watching if it takes off. The column below details the idea and what both Twitter and NASCAR want from the project.

Original column from Tuesday: Marlon and the other 500 million Twitter users around the world are about to get a little more NASCAR in their lives. Being unveiled this week is a new "landing page" on Twitter that will allow fans to get a lot more race information with one click.

Even though this column will use phrases like embellished hashtag, curated tweets and second screen the fact is that the bottom line is easy to understand. There is now so much information flowing on Twitter during Sprint Cup Series races it makes sense to manage it.

Many NASCAR fans use a second electronic device in addition to the TV while watching the races. Smart phones, laptops and tablets are part of what is called the second screen. That simply means that while watching the race on the TV screen many of us are actively involved in using another screen for more interaction and information.

The program of choice on the second screen for NASCAR fans has become Twitter. It is faster than Facebook, more flexible than texting and puts any live website-based chat into the weeds in terms of ease of use. Drivers, teams, racetracks, NASCAR officials and many other parties use Twitter to get information out to fans on race day.

On Twitter, users build timelines by selecting other users they want to follow. Tweets from all those users automatically pop-up in the timeline. It makes Twitter unique for every single user. Now that NASCAR has become so populated with various users sending information to fans, it's almost impossible to manage the volume.

One feature of Twitter is called a hashtag. This was created to allow users to focus on one event without changing their own timelines. By typing #NBAPlayoffs into Twitter's search box, all of the tweets that are being made about the live NBA game in progress can be seen. Once the game is over, users simply click back to their own timeline and return to the normal flow of information they had built.

The popularity of the #NASCAR hashtag during a Sprint Cup Series race is amazing. Any Twitter user can simply type #NASCAR at the end of a tweet and suddenly their opinion is automatically published side-by-side with teams, media members and even the NASCAR officials managing the race.

To focus on this issue, NASCAR is partnering with Twitter to enhance the #NASCAR hashtag during Sprint Cup Series races beginning this Sunday in Pocono. The idea is simple. Let the Twitter professionals look at the big picture of everything coming down the pipe about the race. Then, point the tweets that can embellish the fan experience over to the #NASCAR hashtag. That is not going to be an easy task.

The theory is that a Twitter editor/producer will be able to embellish the existing flow of information by picking and choosing featured tweets and highlighting them within the #NASCAR hashtag stream. If that sounds complicated, it really isn't.

Monday I spoke with Twitter executive Omid Ashtari about this new project. We recapped some issues fans had been discussing and focused on what both Twitter and NASCAR wanted this agenda to be.

Here are some hot button topics he addressed:

Content: Twitter will not restrict any content. All tweets containing the #NASCAR hashtag will continue to be automatically placed in the hashtag stream.

NASCAR: Twitter is providing the editor/producer for this project. NASCAR is not involved in what tweets are gathered and redistributed. The project will be coordinated from the Twitter offices.

TNT: The NASCAR TV network showing the race can sample any tweets from the #NASCAR hashtag stream, but there is no direct contact between the parties. There will be no promotion of TNT programming. The tweets selected for the hashtag stream will be NASCAR-related.

Advertising: There is no advertising being integrated into the hashtag stream and that is not on the agenda. No Twitter, NASCAR or TNT advertising will be added.

Editing: No tweets selected to be added to the hashtag stream will be edited.

Goal: The goal of this project is to embellish the existing #NASCAR hashtag stream with timely tweets from various NASCAR users throughout the Twitter universe. Many of those users are not involved in the hashtag stream, so their tweets will be added by the Twitter editor/producer.

The idea is to make the #NASCAR hashtag the place to be during the race for both Twitter users and non-users. The non-users will be able to view the stream at the twitter website, while the users will continue to be able to contribute through their own accounts.

Ashtari referenced that there is a wealth of NASCAR content during the races that simply goes to waste. By grabbing that content and adding it to the #NASCAR stream it may create an amazing second screen of content for fans. It certainly is an interesting concept and one that may pay big dividends for NASCAR if it picks up speed with the fan base. We will update this topic again before the weekend.

Please add your comments or questions on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

23 comments:

KoHoSo said...

I am definitely glad to read that this will be an enhancement of the #NASCAR hashtag and not any of the more intrusive things that many of us thought about when this idea was first floated. For me as one that enjoys Twitter, I am excited to see how it plays out and evolves.

dara2k said...

I don't like the idea of twitter " highlighting" hash tag #nascar tweets. They should just let every one roll thru with equal attention. The act of selecting tweets makes me apprehensive of manipulation. Great informative post, John!

Buschseries61 said...

I just see that as being way too cluttered and fast-paced to enjoy. If I understand correctly: drivers, pit road observers, reporters, PR people, and fans all have their tweets posted on one NASCAR page if they add #NASCAR to their tweet. That's a huge flood of people commenting at once with pretty much the same info, or chaotic with a bunch of different conversation POV's on one page.

I'll take a look this weekend, but I'm skeptical. As long as I have good tv, I'm happy. As long as we have RaceBuddy when there is bad tv, I'm happy.

PammH said...

cannot see how in the fast paced twitter world that this will work, but we shall see.

GinaV24 said...

Thanks for asking the questions, JD, that were things that most concerned me.

For example, was the content going to be "edited" in that only certain things would go into the twitter feed and how involved NASCAR will be in what I was concerned would be censorship.

Sounds like it could be something worthwhile to the fans.

Are you planning to still use your #tdp for the race? I hope you will, since a lot of us want to talk to one another, not necessarily to some of the NASCAR crowd. Quite honestly, there's a reason I don't use the NASCAR community chat rooms - some of those people are so rude they are simply not people I want to "talk" to so I don't.

Paul03 said...

#TDP1 returning Sunday?

Lisa Hogan said...

Since I no longer watch the races live, I don't use other sources for information during a race.

I think it would be interesting to know if the Twitter "editor/producer" will have any knowledge of NASCAR.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Yes, we will return the #TDP1 live stream for the Sunday race. One of the things we will follow in addition to the TNT telecast will be this new #NASCAR social media stream.

JD

Adam Wood said...

Thanks for asking the questions I was concerned about. Enjoyed your column for the last 2 seasons. This will be interesting to watch.

Anonymous said...

I usually add #NASCAR to those tweets I want seen by that stream audience. From this article I'm understanding that they will still be seen in realtime, and it's the relative tweets that are NOT tagged #NASCAR that's going to be manually added. Do I have that right? I'll be watching.
Donna

West Coast Kenny said...

J.D.

How will I know which tweets are the featured ones? Will they have an asterisk or some extra characters in addition to the limited 140?

Let's say #2 is the featured tweet.

#NASCAR Love me some June-Bug!

#NASCAR Smoke took 4 50 laps ago. He's gotta come in next lap. 2 or 4?

#NASCAR Danicas a swimsuit model she don't deserve a ride.

If none of the tweets with #NASCAR in them will be deleted, how can I tell which ones the Twitter producer selected?

Will there be a separate page on Twitter.com or NASCAR.com for the curated tweets?

@Lisa: On May 18, Jeff Gluck wrote about this and linked to the Twitter job posting. Besides a thorough and fluent knowledge of Twitter, they said the candidate must have a strong sports background. A link to the posting is at the bottom of the article.

WCK

earl06 said...

I don't think I'll be using this feature. As it is, I get the info I want from the folks I follow, adding more voices seems like it would be redundant and cluttered.

Yesterday, when the KuBu suspension was announced, I opened a second tab with just "Kurt Busch" tweets. It gave me what I had in my timeline, plus a whole bunch of others' retweets and fan opinions, neither of which added anything useful.

We'll see how it turns out, but it seems like it would be too much information to be useful while watching a live race.

GinaV24 said...

Thanks, JD. Glad to know that the Planeteers will still be able to talk to one another live during the race

Colorado said...

I'm curious as to how far-reaching the Twitter thing goes, as far as someone within 10 feet of a teams Pit Box, listening to pit strategy, and then Tweeting it to someone else's team down pit road? Or perhaps this is already happening? Social Media may be the new deal in technology, and although on the surface can be a great addition to sports fans, in NASCAR, I think it can be manipulated, much the same way Chad Knaus had manipulated the cell phone technology during his suspension(s) supposedly sitting at home, yet still called pit stops.It may be great for fans to see an inside look at the sport, and their faveorite drivers, teams, owners, but I get an eerie feeling that teams are using this technology as a backdoor to "stealing signs". Just a thought.

Lisa Hogan said...

Thanks, West Coast Kenny.
The term "strong sports background" is what had me concerned.

We've all seen media members with "strong sports backgrounds" totally lost when it comes to NASCAR. :)

AncientRacer said...

"Fascinating," I said in my best Mr. Spock voice as I read the post.

However, there seems, at least to me, one issue left out of JD's conversation with Omid Ashtari and that is the one of capacity and traffic.

Perhaps it is just me, but it seems that when a race is run Twitter nearly collapses. We NASCAR types have embraced the Twitter platform with such gusto that it slows down nearly to the brink of a catastrophic crash and on occasion freezes. I cannot number the instances where either on my Mac or my Tablet or my PC or my IPhone where I have had to close and reopen the app and the only thing I can reason is that the stream is jammed with posts and I do not experience this when races are not running.

Now, I am not by any means a computer geek (I have kids for that purpose) and I may be wrong but IMO this is one issue that needs to be addressed

Sophia said...

Interesting to see NASCAR finally get with it but . . .

I love SM but it's just too much to keep shoving on television!?. The tweets I see on tv, for the most part, are MINUTIA! I don't care what ChubbyHubbyinTN says, ya know?*sig*

If they are informative & pertinent, ok. Or even funny.

Just.Show.Us.The.Race.

You can yap about Twitter & FBook until the cows come home, but unless there are better pictures, I don't give a flying fig.

oh, I am watching season 1 dvd -from library --of Beverly Hills 90210, where the Brenda character daydreams of being a NASCAR driver. This is 1992 and they show some GREAT NASCAR race footage for a good 20 seconds of headlights coming at me, side sweeping glances of a track of several cars passing each other.

I thought something had happened to the dvd and then it came back to the story of Brenda (who took 3 attempts to get her driver's license)

All I could think was I'm so depressed I didn't watch NASCAR in the golden era of tv viewing.

Today's Fox & BSPN's coverage is nothing more that jumpy, Attention Deficit Disorder camera shots that must resemble a video game and leave viewers clueless at home.

I'm hopeful TNT will do their usual good job but still grateful I have local radio for CUP races!

Paul03 said...

Try going to #NASCAR now....it's like a chat room. Going to be a mess on Sunday I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

"Content: Twitter will not restrict any content. All tweets containing the #NASCAR hashtag will continue to be automatically placed in the hashtag stream." Well I haven't seen any of my #NASCAR tweets show up in their stream.

KoHoSo said...

Anon 11:47...my record so far is two out of six tweets with #NASCAR in them getting through. For now, I will just write it off as being a work in progress that will need some inevitable tweaking and hope for the best.

Anonymous said...

Forget about social media, how about some basic TV coverage. Practice and qualifying sessions were scheduled for today for the truck race. Where the heck are you SPEED? Do you even care?

Charlie said...

If you go to the #Nascar hash-tag page and you don't see your tweet you may want to try this and see if it helps.
At the top of the hash-tag page you will see to the middle right the word "Tweets" next to that Top / All.
Try clicking on the "All" and see if that helps.

KoHoSo said...

Charlie...you just hit on the key for this. For me, I'm not seeing "Top/All" on the #NASCAR page but there is a "View search results" link to the right of "Tweets." For there I can get to the usual hashtag page with Top/All.

This now makes a heck of a lot more sense to me in what NASCAR is highlighting yet still being able to see everything that is being tweeted with #NASCAR.