Saturday, June 9, 2012

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

It was 1967 when the Captain at the prison farm had just about enough of Cool Hand Luke's antics. Between eating 50 hard boiled eggs in an hour on a bet to hustling through a black-topping job to have the rest of the afternoon off, it was clear that the man pictured above was bucking the system.

After an ill-fated escape attempt, the Captain uttered the now famous movie line that has come to define a fundamental difference in understanding.

Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to speak with a Twitter executive by phone. In a pleasant conversation we discussed the new #NASCAR hashtag features coming to Twitter this weekend. My questions were fundamental and his answers made a lot of sense. Click here to read the column that followed.

Thursday the new #NASCAR hashtag "landing page" was rolled out by Twitter as a preview of the weekend's new project. This page is where NASCAR and the media are pointing both users and non-users of Twitter for Sunday's race.

Click here to visit the page.

What was relayed to me was that the "landing page" would continue to carry #NASCAR fan tweets and be embellished with additional content from Twitter's own socia media producer. Thursday the stream was simply a restricted flow of tweets from NASCAR personalities, sponsors and media members.

What was also confirmed to me in the phone interview was that this new page would contain no advertising. Thursday afternoon a "promoted tweet" was featured at the very top of the page. From Ebay Motors to Dove Care for Men, there was a consistent advertising presence coordinated by Twitter as the very first item any user would see with every view.

Sprinkled throughout the #NASCAR stream during the day were seemingly random references to Twitter as a marketing tool. Each of these tweets somehow ended with the identical hashtag of #Twitter4brands. One click on that opened a coordinated Twitter marketing stream and yet another "promoted tweet." Twitter was placing the #Twitter4brands content in the new #NASCAR stream.

One of the aspects of Twitter that makes it so appealing for fans like me is the ability to use it quickly on a smart phone. In addition to my own timeline, the ability to search the #NASCAR hashtag has become the quickest way to broaden my information on the sport in a flash.

Thursday, the Twitter mobile app on my android phone redirected the #NASCAR hashtag search to the controlled stream. That was not in the original discussion and did not result in the information I desired.

Finally, the interesting point of the new and controlled #NASCAR hashtag stream was not the content that was included, but the content that was excluded. After a colorful night at the Prelude PPV telecast, there were plenty of fans talking about topics that did not include Pocono racing or the new hashtag project.

In my phone conversation, it was made clear that fan tweets on NASCAR hot topics being discussed would be included in the new coordinated stream. Nothing could be further from what was presented.

Click here to read the latest NASCAR media release on this project. Here is an excerpt: showcases the best Tweets and photos from NASCAR insiders in an effort to bring the behind-the-scenes story to life for fans during race weekends. The page includes Tweets from drivers, pit crew members, families, media, NASCAR representatives and other industry constituencies like race tracks and sponsors.

Fans also have an opportunity to see their Tweets featured.

Using a combination of sophisticated algorithmic signals and Twitter's editorial curation, features the highest quality, most engaging content about the race and NASCAR. Behind-the-scenes photos, exclusive content and innovative and original Tweets will likely have the best chance of being featured on this new live event page.

It's important to remember that individual timelines are unaffected, that Twitter still makes the raw #NASCAR search available and that users like me are getting this service for free. But that is not the issue on the table.

If this is a coordinated marketing effort by Twitter and NASCAR, then just say it. If this is a starting point for driving advertising revenue, focused product agendas and the brand marketing of the sport that's just fine. Twitter and NASCAR have the perfect right to do just that.

It just seems ironic that the one element elminated from this new content stream on Thursday was the fans. After hearing the theory and now seeing the reality, it really does seem that what we have here is a failure to communicate.

If you are a Twitter user and have an opinion on this topic, we would like to hear it. Comments may be moderate prior to posting.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say "that Twitter still makes the raw #NASCAR search available". When I search that like I did before it brings me to the new controlled stream.

Nascar_Gamecock said...

Once again Nascar is trying to control "what I see" and insert their form of commercials. Looks like Nascar is trying to chase me away from Twitter.

red said...

I'm on Twitter daily & so I checked out the new #NASCAR feature. I am withholding judgement for now. That said:

If someone doesn't use Twitter regularly, this could be a way to touch base on what's being said in NASCAR. And that may, in fact, be the actual audience for this. However, I found that I'd already read all the tweets in my own timeline, either directly or via RTs. So, perhaps I'm not the person they're trying to reach.

The advertising was perplexing, mostly because everything I'd read prior to launch indicated there wouldn't be any. So, perhaps that decision was re-visited and the change was made. Not a big issue to me: it's a business decision, I get it. But at the very least, it was mishandled. After such an effort to promote the #NASCAR prior to launch and get fans interested enough to follow that hash, it's almost as if all communication about the stream just . . . stopped.

I'll check in, now and again, but I don't believe this is something I'll be visiting with any frequency going forward. To be clear, that's not because it's a bad stream; it's because I already read those tweets in my timeline. Essentially, it would be a duplication of effort on my part and unnecessary.

I appreciate the time and effort as well as the concept and I hope that, as it matures, the stream will refine and become more enjoyable for me. I'll keep an eye on it because I want to support the folks who have brought it this far. They get points for trying something different and trying to use Twitter in a new way.

I just may not be the person they were looking to engage.

William said...

Those NASCAR people don't really think this holds any value for anyone but them and their "stakeholders", do they? Those pesky, needy fans are not stakeholders in any way, form or fashion. Note from NASCAR: "We are going to bankroll our lifestyles on the backs of those gumps!"

Anonymous said...

I'm a grown up, I really don't knee Nascar to pick my Twitter content for me.

AncientRacer said...

I have found the same this as @Anon 5:24 reported.

As for ads/sponsored tweets tell me why I am not surprised. When I read that in your original column I was puzzled because why would NASCAR or Twitter launch something like the "Landing Page" if there was no money in it? In theory I could make a case for Twitter doing so, but not in my wildest dreams could I do so for NASCAR except if I considered the contol possible through "curation".

BTW: The actual Strother Martin line is "What we have here is; failure to communicate." there is no "a" in it but does have a semi colon to provide a dramatic pause. I lost a bet on that once and it has been burned into my brain ever since.

LpMv2407 said...

Anon - 5:24 - Yea but at the top of the page there is a link that say continue on or continue seach...something like that. It takes you to the unfiltered search.

JD - They launched it late Wednesday night. Probably around 10pm or 11pm. There were some tweets from fans about the prelude on the landing page. The thing I noticed is the page tends to bring the top stories(tweets) from the last hour. They(past tweets) seem to be filtered more. The live tweets seem to keep coming in at a faster rate or are at least filtered less.

I think I'm gonna wait until after I utilize it after a race to pass final judgement. I would never use the regular #NASCAR search just because its very cluttered, uninformative, & vulgar. If I spent my time reading every tweet from that page I wouldnt see any of the broadcast. Id say 1 in 5 are a quality tweet.

earl06 said...

Not what I expected, but not surprising either.

It seems like anything NASCAR deems "new and exciting" tends to be more of the same and really disappointing. I'm not going to pine for the good ol' days, because they're gone, but NASCAR should look at why things worked well 5-10-15 years ago and try to get a little of that back.

Wiresculptress said...

Congratulations, NASCAR. *insert slow sarcastic handclapping here* You've managed to wrest control of your hashtag from the fans. Great. If you think this is going to shut us up, you better think again.

Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson is telling some Twitter person that they look stupid in their avatar. Stay classy.

Anonymous said...

LpMv2407 said...
"Anon - 5:24 - Yea but at the top of the page there is a link that say continue on or continue seach...something like that. It takes you to the unfiltered search."

Thanks for that. I'm not a huge twitter user so I needed a nudge haha. I clicked on View Search Results and that seems to have worked.

Buschseries61 said...

I saw this coming miles away. If everyone got their tweet on the NASCAR page, it would be a chaotic cycle of waves of tweets during the races. It wouldn't matter if the twitter editor added tweets without the NASCAR tag, since it would just fall to the bottom in a matter of seconds.

This seemed to be aimed at observers not signed up for twitter like me that could view some tweets from various people in the sport on one page. Of course, most of these people have their twitter page open for the public to see, so the NASCAR page is just a little simpler but not really necessary.

Established twitter users have already developed a system of who to follow during race weekends, this #NASCAR page never really made sense for this group.

Ultimately, I just see this as a way for Twitter to try and gain more users & gain advertising $$$. All I see NASCAR getting out of the deal is showing potential sponsors another advertising route NASCAR can offer. The $$$$ circle goes around, and the fans get the empty doughnut hole in the middle.

GinaV24 said...

Surprise, surprise, surprise - advertising and NASCAR - perfect together! I figured it was too good to be true, that NASCAR would allow the fans to talk amongst themselves live during a race. There was an article on the frontstretch yesterday by one of the writers who was essentially blaming twitter for people being negative about NASCAR.

As you say, NASCAR and Twitter can certainly do this and I have the right to avoid it. I wanted no interference from NASCAR or their TwitterGate but that's too much to ask, so I'll do what I've been doing and opt out. I have my own group that I follow on twitter, I don't need #NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

The official "front page" #NASCAR stream would be a good place for someone new to twitter to start. It does feature major accounts. But for experienced users, I'm not so sure. I have twitter lists that are customized to my personal preferences, and therefore remain much more useful to me. I like to look at the raw #NASCAR stream when something significant is happening, such as during a race or breaking news. I also notice that the "official" stream isn't updating properly, though I'll mark that to growing pains right now.

And as for the #NASCARFans... both pro & amateur bloggers will apparently be shut out of the "front page", except for the occasional tweet, as well as the fans. I realise every tweet can't be "featured". But for me, that is the beauty of Twitter, the raw #NASCAR (or any other hashtag) stream that is the most genuine in seeing broad reaction.
Donna in FL

Anonymous said...

It's about making money; sure as heck ain't for us fans.

chrispolk76 said...

Maybe it takes some time for the algorithm to populate? Just a guess. We are, I guess, Twitter's guinea pig for this since none of the other sports care to try. I'll reserve judgment for a few weeks.

KoHoSo said...

Once I figured out where to go to see the unfiltered tweets (thanks to Charlie in the previous post's comments!), the whole thing made a lot more sense to me.

I am not surprised by a "sticky" advertising tweet being on the top. I have already seen that several times for other hashtags for big events. In and of itself that does not bother me. After all, Twitter and NASCAR are not here to be a charities.

I have seen some fan tweets get through including three of my own. However, it is not many. On the other hand, I don't think it is fair to judge the content until we get to a race and, even then, maybe through a few races as the system will surely evolve.

All of that being said, I agree that this setup was poorly explained and makes those involved look like they were trying to fool NASCAR fans even if that was not their intent. I also have to say that, while I want to see how this develops over a few different race weekends, I highly doubt it is going to be something I use after the curiosity has worn off and there is no need for me to try and report on it to my fellow Planeteers. Now that I have a better grasp on how it is going to work, I do not see how it is going to add to my Twitter experience when I have already found most NASCAR-related accounts and decided who to follow in my own timeline...not to mention that it already looks like the #TDP1 hashtag is still going to be more informative (and fun) even though it is intended to talk about the actual broadcast presentation.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

I took a look and agree with Red and others. Many of those tweets are in my timeline. The others I am not really interested in. Didn't see anything that would make me come back.

I like being in control of my own stuff!

Also agree probably not targeted at many of us. It is a way for non Tweeter users to check out what's going on. I am sure the goal for Tweeter is to drive new users to their site.

I didn't notice ads. But then I think I have trained myself to only focus on what I came to web page for.

E-Ticket said...

I honestly made a joke about the #NASCAR hashtag landing page yesterday stating at some point @NASCARONFOX would start messing it up with ads. I was right but just drop ONFOX, oh well. Glad NASCAR has found another way to Monetize their fans and cash in on the #NASCAR that some many fans have come to love.. I won't use that landing page.. I will follow my normal timeline, it is maximized for my time..

Anonymous said...

Once again we can feel that our move to quit Twitter last Jan.1 was a good one.Just eliminated another bit of unnessesary frustration from our Nascar racing enjoyment.

Keith Murray said...

#NASCAR on Twitter was doing just fine before all this happened. I'm not changing anything! I have a NASCAR follow list and I will stick to that instead of following a list that someone else (maybe with a $$ agenda) thinks I should follow. Another great article, John. Thanks for sharing!

Joj said...

As others have stated, this is interesting, probably for those new to twitter. I have worked to get my feed set the way I want it, & commercial free! I'll check in to see it during the race, doubt I'll use it much. Is any one really surprised that something NASCAR is involved in has ADS or isn't quite what they led the needy fans to believe it would be?

AlisonJ said...

OK, just decided to close my Twitter account today. NASCAR has really turned into nothing more than a giant vacuum to suck every possible dollar from our pockets and turn it over to gazillionaires who want us to donate to their "foundations".

Greed. Destroyed. NASCAR.

terri said...

@Wiresculptress - Jimmie was enjoying picking on that person because this person had been very rude and unkind to Jimmie in some Tweets. This person had first said Jimmie looked stupid in his avatar because he had on the Dover wig. Well, this person's avatar was him giving the photographer the bird. Jimmie freely said he was taunting this person on purpose. If you've ever read any of Jimmie's other tweets, you would realize that this is NOT the normal conversation that Jimmie tweets.

Charlie Spencer said...

So, Sunday morning, let's see what we have here:

Denny Hamlin went to the movies.

Jeff Gordon replies to a question about the NBA semi-finals.

Jimmie Johnson says the fireworks at Pocono woke his kid.

In other words, more of the same stuff that keeps me from regarding Twitter as a useful tool. If this is the filtered stuff, what was rejected?

fbu1 said...

The Daly Planet has been a long-time advocate of using social media to grow NASCAR's brand with the fan base. In fact, I originally opened my Twitter account based on your enthusiasm for the service. Therefore, I am disappointed that a Twitter executive used your good will to pass along less than accurate information to followers of your blog.

I am neither surprised nor indignant about advertising and editorial oversight at #NASCAR. I may be a cynical curmudgeon, but I expected as much from the outset. Like most corporations, NASCAR does not have an altruism gene in its DNA unless it will generate a high volume of favorable publicity. Sponsor revenue will always trump fan participation. NASCAR is a monopoly. Those of us who are race fans will continue to follow the sport, despite our grumbling.

As you have said, both NASCAR and Twitter have a right, perhaps enen a responsibility, to generate a cash flow from #NASCAR. It is just sad that they used disinformation to help build enthusiasm for the new product.