Wednesday, November 14, 2012

And On The Fourth Day He Tweeted

There he was, assuming the position that many of us know so well. That is Dale Earnhardt Jr. and he is on Twitter using his sponsor's account to interact with fans. Earnhardt used the National Guard account and the #DaleTakeOver hashtag to spend an hour Wednesday spontaneously answering questions from all kinds of fans.

This is how reporter Aaron Burns described the experience in the Mooresville, NC News:

Earnhardt has a Twitter account but he’s never used it, preferring to stick to Facebook despite fans’ repeated requests for him to join the Twitterverse. He’s one of only two Sprint Cup Series drivers – Carl Edwards is the other – to not tweet regularly.

Among other items, Earnhardt suggested his fans listen to “I’m on Fire” by Town Mountain. He also said his favorite television mini-series is Lonesome Dove and his favorite sandwich is a turkey burger. He didn’t commit to trying Twitter on a full-time basis, but said he enjoyed the experience.

“This is an awesome way to connect with my fans,” Earnhardt said. “(I) appreciate the involvement.”

Once again, it seems that Earnhardt and the entire PR and Marketing arms of both Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports missed the point. It's not about Junior.

"NASCAR Needs Junior On Twitter" was a TDP column from July. Click the title to read the full content. Here is an excerpt:

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 Mark 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.

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.

It seems ironic that with only days left in the season fans get to interact with Earnhardt on Twitter at 3PM Eastern Time on a Wednesday. As a Twitter search of the @NationalGuard account will prove, even in this limited amount of time conversations were had and questions answered that generated interest and helped to open the door to this elusive personality.

Twitter has proven to be an effective tool for high-profile personalities from NBA star LeBron James to tennis star Rafael Nadal. Earnhardt actively using Twitter would enable that content to be posted on websites that integrate NASCAR tweets through software called widgets.

In other words, websites around the world would be adding Earnhardt's Twitter content to the existing list of drivers from the sport who are already featured. In much the same way that Twitter allows hundred of NASCAR personalities, facilities and media organizations to interact with NASCAR fans the sport would now be able to feature its most popular personality.

James reaches 6.49 million users each time he tweets. Nadal sends each message to 3.35 million fans around the world. It certainly would be interesting to see if an active Earnhardt Twitter account would wind-up having more users than the upcoming Homestead Sprint Cup Series finale has TV viewers.

Anyway you slice it, 2013 is the year of NASCAR taking control of its own digital efforts. It certainly would be nice if the most popular driver played a key role.

We welcome your opinion on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.


Sally said...

Are you sure you don't own stock in Twitter? If not, they should be paying you as a spokesperson for them. Sorry, I just don't know why anyone finds this so interesting. Yet another way to bury people's noses in something that takes up lots of time and avoids any real contact. Glad you enjoy it so much, JD, but not everyone finds the whole communicating by thumbs as interesting as you do.

JakeL42 said...

As a fan of Jr myself i would like to see him on Twitter,not just for him himself,but for the reasons you said,it would be a boon for the sport.

However,i do not see him making a full comittment anytime soon,i don't think he really wants to deal with all the negative aspects involved,i believe he has even said himself it's too big of a resonsabilty.I could be wrong though.

Anonymous said...

JD here you go again. Think about this. Every word Jr utters is talked to death by the media. Complete articles are written about whatever he says. Then the guys on RaceHub. RaceDay, and in the booth comment on them. Why in the world would he expose himself to more harrassment? If you have a swarm of bees hovering around you, you don't cover yourself with nectar to invite more. Jr has more common sense than most, and so far he has done a super job of living his life with integrity and grace. If he ever agrees to tweet, it will only be done after much thought and consideration. Frankly, I hope he never decides to do so.

GinaV24 said...

I only follow people that interest me. Heck, I follow the cat's breath and the orange cone because I think they are funny.

Since Jr doesn't interest me at all, even if he was on twitter night and day, I wouldn't follow him.

Anonymous said...

If it isn't something he wants to do and enjoys doing, there is no reason for him to use twitter. It only becomes effective when the celebrity is enjoying it. You probably don't get that.

Anonymous said...

Hows that saying go? Better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you're an idiot than open it and prove it? More than that, Twitter is an excuse to say "hey I'm involved with the little people" when what you're really doing is continuing to keep them at arms length. You get 1M followers and you reply back to what, maybe 20, 50 even a week? Oooh, you get a retweet from Jeff Gordon...that's a big deal? Please. Put down the iPhone and get out there and meet fans face to face. That means something. Not this artificial digital interaction. But judging by the racing action this year, perhaps cold and superficial is what NASCAR is going for!

Steve in Raleigh, NC said...

Demographic disclosure - WM >50yo. I tend to agree with Sally and matriarch. I actually have a Twitter account, but I find the whole notion, and experience, tragically boring.

Anonymous said...

Yeaa twitter wasn't for me either. I still follow the updates and feeds stuff during races. I follow a few journalists and fun accounts i.e. the Orange cone who is hysterical. But I never bother to update my happenings. Much like junior I just don't see the need. He gives people enough as it is. Everybody would want a piece of him if he joined. Hell he might crash their servers with all the silly question fanatics would ask him. I don't blame him for not wanting to subject himself to that, daily.

MIchael Stoffel said...

Ditto on being WM>50yo. I have a twitter but can't understand most of the messages, and the endless re-tweets and "sponsored" messages. I rarely look at it anymore.
I guess the kids dig it.

AncientRacer said...

I agree with GinaV24. I follow people on Twitter who interest and/or amuse me.

I do not follow many drivers at all simply because, as I believe is the case with many non-racing celebrities, there is some PR Flack punching the keys.

The Loose Wheel said...

I don't see where Jr wins in this. His stock is and always will be very high in regards to NASCAR fans. His following is strong and loyal. As much as they would probably love to have him on Twitter, it becomes an issue of NASCAR needs him on there more than he needs to be there. If he doesn't want to do it, how is he "missing the boat"? If he were to do it because NASCAR tells him to or he gets pushed into it, it's only going to further the belief that the drivers cannot be themselves. The bit I have dealt with Twitter it just doesn't strike my fancy. The format is a little tough for me to grasp between the retweets and hashtags and all that other nonsense. If a driver isn't going to be 100% themselves, rather than shill for the sponsors and teams, then I have no interest in following it. It's not worth the 1 or 2 ha-ha moments a week to see the endless streams of pedestrian posts throughout the week.

It's awesome for the people that use it and love it. Just not sure where I see Jr winning in joining just because it is the will of the sport/media.

MRM4 said...

I'm on Twitter as I follow the people that interests or entertains me. Having said that, NASCAR isn't going to improve or be better just because Junior interacts on Twitter. If he doesn't want to regularly participate, that's his choice. And I have no problem with that. Most drivers I follow only interact with other drivers or might give one-word or two-word answers to fans.

And the person quoted was incorrect. Tony Stewart does not use Twitter either.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a facebook account. I don't have a twitter account. I get along just fine. I don't feel the need to take part in this whole social media fad. I don't understand why you want Earnhardt to be forced to do something he simply doesn't feel a need to do. If he wanted to tweet all the time, he would. I value my privacy, and it appears Dale does as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree Dale does not need to be on twitter.

Some of what they tweet is out of reach for most fans.....trips to very expensive places or pictures of fancy birthday parties that most cannot afford. One tweets things that I cannot think of a sponsor that would want them to represent them.

Dale jr gets ripped even if he sneezes wrong so why in the world would he want to give them more. I honestly don't know how he copes with it all.

So no Jr......stay off twitter.

Anonymous said...

The most volatile atmosphere in NASCAR came out of Phoenix this weekend and you chose to write a blog article about Jr. Tweeting?? Really?
No impact statement? No coverage critique? No stories of the old days when this happened all the time but the press knew better than to cover it?
I know your off on a new adventure and lack for time, but I really thought you might have some futuristic insight to the events that unfolded in the Arizona desert.
Sorry JD, if Jr. doesn't have a heart in tweeting, it won't be worth following.
My two cents.

JakeL42 said...

To clarify,I do NOT(as others have said here) think Jr should be on Twitter if he really doesn't want to be or his heart isn't in it.I also agree with the statement that getting a retweet from your favorite driver in no way matches meeting them face to face.I understand that(as of this writing)he doesn't want the big commitment and that he cherishes his privacy.

I also understand where JD is coming from,It could be a big boon for the sport if it happens.Bottom line,i would like to see it,but i won't be hurt if he doesn't want to do it.

Alex Jordan said...

With alot of Nascar drivers and media personalities already on Twitter, its surprising that Jr and Carl Edwards aren't on Twitter. Nascar needs JR on Twitter so that he can interact with fans. That is the only reason why he should be on twitter. Because JR is always in the spotlight, if he does join Twitter, hoepfully nothing negative comes from it.

West Coast Kenny said...


Although I use it every day I can see why some luddite types would dislike it. Anything newfangled is going to automatically alienate some.

Just the other day I tweeted a web developer on Cornwall England who I met because we both like to watch snooker. I complimented him on the relaunch of one of his sites and asked him for tip about some web design.

In less than half an hour, I got his reply. And it works.

On the other hand, I don't know what I gain by reading Junior's tweets if all he's going to do is tweet that he likes turkey burgers. Ohhh, I like turkey burgers too!!! I can relate to Junior!

Now if he were to keep his iPhone in his car like Brad and tweet pix during red flags or talk about how his car runs in practice, that information might be useful.

But I just found out that NASCAR has banned electronic devices in cars. Keep it up, NASCAR. You'll make it back to the fifties soon enough.


Charlie Spencer said...

There's something to be said for leaving your audience wanting more.

Maybe it's 'not about Junior'. But if it isn't, what's in it for him that he should bother?

OSBORNK said...

I look forward to the day in the near future when Twitter goes the way of Myspace. I think it is a fad whose time is rapidly coming to a close. I can't think of anything more useless and misleading. What makes people think that the celebrities are actually the ones tweeting? some of the tweets are genuine but many are done by the friends or employees of the celebrity. I don't know why people waste their time staring at a screen all day. Get a life!

MortonGroveDon said...

To read the story and the comments, youd think a twitter account was going to save Nascar. More and more twitter accounts everyday. Ratings down, track attendance down......... "I fear the day that technology will surpass human interaction.The world will have a generation of idiots".... Albert Einstein

fbu1 said...

West Coast Kenny said... "Although I use it every day I can see why some luddite types would dislike it. Anything newfangled is going to automatically alienate some."

Actually, I love new technology. It is the profiling / tracking component of social media that I dislike, along with the endless spam-like "updates" that clogged my email account.

I think that Dale Jr can fulfill his fan responsibilities by occasionally using his sponsor's Twitter account and therefore avoid the downsides. It is a matter of personal tastes.


Daly Planet Editor said...

It's important to remember that Junior needs sponsorship for his Cup team next season for multiple races.

The sport is at a new low in TV ratings and attendance. Junior is the most popular driver of that same sport.

The new and a full slate of digital initiatives begins in 2013 with active participation from the sport's top personalities.

Twitter is like any technology including this website. It is all how the tools are used that returns the desired results.

Top drivers including Junior's HMS teammates are Twitter veterans and use the technology to promote everything from charities to other business interests and race teams they own.

This isn't about the NASCAR media, it's not about people being mean and certainly Twitter is far from being a fad.

The decision to ignore the technology that now carries the vast majority of the fan-related content for NASCAR is a big one.

Appreciate all the comments.


glenc1 said...

I agree with Sally & matriarch about Jr--he owes *nothing* except being a good guy & a good driver, which he already is, and I'm sure Hendrick will sort out the sponsorship biz without Twitter.

But I wonder about this--since Brad K enjoys tweeting, what is it about the electronics that has NASCAR so worried? Maybe some techie maybe can explain, is he supposed to be able to turn his traction control on & off or something? I can see the control freaks not wanting him to tweet during a race, but if drivers want to play Angry Birds or text their WAGS during a red flag, what's the big deal? IIRC, Brad had them put some kind of holder in so it wasn't a 'projectile' issue.

Joj said...

Mr Burns article says only 2 Top Drivers do not tweet regularly. Ummm Defending 2011 Champ Tony Stewart does not tweet - check his official account.

Twitter is not required for anything. I find myself using it less and less as it has become more a spam/junk endless info-mercial of a spin machine.

Not everyones everything needs to be sent out for the entire world to hear about.

As for it being a boon for the sport - please - JD do not believe that for a minute. His making the Chase didn't help it - why would JR on twitter help?

Anonymous said...

I don't pay as much attention to your blog now that you do all the races via twitter. If NASCAR chooses to move its content to twitter, that is a huge mistake, IMHO. They won't get the additional attention they hope.

The Loose Wheel said...

Glen, with the EFI system there is some concern that a phone would be able to load a program into the computer that would affect fuel trims. By not allowing electronic devices in the car, you eliminate the question that someone is circumventing the EFI system.

In theory, a team with enough money/resources/technology could engineer a device that looked like a cell phone but in fact could control the on-board computer system in the car. Changing fuel trims/mapping/etc as needed.

Keeping all the devices out of the car saves you that "conspiracy theory" possibility.

Anonymous said...

Most of the tweets we see popping up on Speed are just silly nonsense.I would hate to see junior turn up as just another twit.I want to see him run a good race and whatever he does in his downtime is absolutly of no interest to me nor is it any of my business.

glenc1 said...

Thanks, Loose Wheel. It's good to know there's at least some science behind it & not just whimsy.

Buschseries61 said...

NASCAR needs a lot more than Dale Jr. on Twitter. I was out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings this evening (Saturday). Of the 19 television screens I could see from my table, 0 had the NASCAR Nationwide race on. Not even being on ESPN could get the sport recognized.

Steve in Raleigh, NC said...

To me it seems that eliminating the conspiracy theory surrounding electronic tuning via the smart phone is a no-brainer - just let NASCAR/Sprint provide the devices configured to access a drivers twitter account and nothing else, ala restrictor plates. Make it purely optional to those drivers who tweet I am by no means anti-technology (my favorite racing series are F1 and ALMS) but I really find twitter unnecessary for the enjoyment of being a race fan

James said...

I don't care about any of the drivers being on Twitter. I think NASCAR actually puts TOO much focus on trying to showcase driver personalities. "Hey look, he's a regular guy just like you." I think the unprecedented access to the drivers has killed some of the mystique that used to surround the drivers when I was kid. Bill Elliot, Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd weren't "regular guys just like me," they were larger than life characters who went out on Sunday and went to war and I think I liked it better that way. I guess it was cool to see Harry Gant working on his farm or Dale Earnhardt hunting or whatever, but I didn't need to know what TV show they were watching or what they were having for dinner, which is the type of thing Twitter offers. I am probably in the minority, but that's how I feel about it.