Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Repost: NASCAR Needs Junior On Twitter
As impressive in post-race interviews as he was on the track, it's now easy to place him among the top contenders for the series championship. Many things have changed in the sport since he first came to the Sprint Cup Series. One of the most profound changes in dealing with the fan base is social media.
Earnhardt's Twitter account is @DaleJr. If memory serves me correctly, his sister reserved it for him should he decide to become active in the social media world. It was a good move on her part because the time for him to make that move is right now.
It's easy to see on TV the deep integration of Twitter into NASCAR. The past two weeks have also featured a heavily promoted special online page created and staffed by Twitter employees for NASCAR tweets during the races. There is currently no more efficient digital platform to get a message out to the NASCAR fan base than Twitter.
From 53 year old Mark Martin to 22 year old Austin Dillon, almost all professional NASCAR drivers have come to realize the power of social media and what a single Twitter account can accomplish. While top NASCAR stars like Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson both have over 200 thousand followers, an international motorsports star like Rubens Barrichello has 1.7 million.
The early fears of Twitter as being unkind to major sports personalities have been put to rest. Smart use of social media just means that top American athletes provide information that helps with marketing, sales and ultimately the bottom line. Like most digital communication tools, the user controls the content.
Every time Brad Keselowski sends a tweet, he does so to 271 thousand people. Keselowski worked hard for those followers and continues to interact with fans, other personalities in the sport and media members. One tweet from Earnhardt would make its way to 132 thousand fans immediately. That is how many Twitter users are already following his empty account and just watching and waiting.
Twitter does not have to be personal. It can be used for marketing purposes, provide links to websites and offer pictures or videos in support of a company agenda. That is precisely the purpose that almost all of the NASCAR sponsors use the service to provide. The race tracks are there too, as are all the major teams including Hendrick Motorsports.
There is little doubt that if and when the official Earnhardt Twitter account becomes active it will quickly top one million followers. The marketing power for Hendrick, JR Motorsports and NASCAR in general would be tremendous. In a time when sponsors are looking for exposure and the sport is looking for a spokesman, cranking Earnhardt's Twitter account up would make a lot of sense.
It took a little encouragement for some personalities to join Twitter. Perhaps, this might be the encouragement for Earnhardt. Simply by asking folks like Martin, Darrell Waltrip or Kevin Harvick about their experiences Earnhardt would find out just how much a simple app on a cell phone can accomplish. His sister and his Nationwide Series sponsors would also perhaps point out what it would mean to JR Motorsports.
Ultimately, the most powerful force in welcoming Earnhardt to Twitter would be the NASCAR fans. While all celebrities using social media have to learn how to screen out the haters, the success stories for NASCAR drivers and personalities where Twitter is concerned are plentiful.
Perhaps the best example of someone close to Earnhardt using Twitter successfully is crew chief Steve Letarte. His personality shines through and his Monday evening tweets suggested he was going to be giving away the hats worn in Victory Lane by his winning team but first he was off to his son's swim meet.
If there was ever a time for the most popular driver to get in the social media mix, it is now. Perhaps with a little encouragement, Earnhardt can sign-on and discover what many of his celebrity friends, teammates and fellow drivers already know. Twitter is the ultimate way to say thank you to the fans.
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