Thursday, March 1, 2012

What #Indycar Can Learn from the #Daytona500

By: Angie King

I’d like to thank @Indycar_MN (a.k.a. Matthew Hickey) for letting me hijack his blog. I needed an outlet after conversations on Twitter Tuesday morning about the Daytona 500 inspired me to create a list of hashtags for Indycar events in 2012. I’ll get to the hashtags in a bit, but first I wanted to fill you in on what inspired me to write this. (If you don’t care, scroll down to see the list of hashtags and skip my ramblings!)

#Indycar Reacts to #Daytona500 #NASCAR Coverage
 I noticed a bunch of Twitter chatter Tuesday morning regarding NASCAR’s use of social media during the Daytona 500. I was interested to see what people were saying, because as I mentioned in another guest post on a different blog (yeah, I’m blog hopping), Twitter was a huge factor in converting me to an Indycar fan last year. (Read that blog: #RIPDanWheldon:  A Tribute to the #Indycar Twitter Community.)

I admit, while I was watching the Daytona 500 on Monday night, I was impressed by the coverage given to Twitter by the broadcast. I was also impressed that #daytona500 was trending on Twitter the whole night. I was left wondering if this Twitter integration was standard or new for NASCAR. And because I'm not a regular watcher of NASCAR (it bores me) and I'm only in my sophomore year of Indycar fandom, I also wondered which motorsport embraced Twitter first.

Luckily, I got my answer on Tuesday. The first thing that caught my eye on Twitter that morning was this convo between @JackOnSports and @jerrcruz1077

@JackOnSports: Kudos to the Fox gang! Long haul and they road it to the finish. Love NASCAR's embrace of social media. R U Listening IndyCar?

@jerrycruz1077: @JackOnSports what? #IndyCar has been the forefront in social media and twitter since 2009. Again Nascar trying to take away from @IndyCar

I actually saw a few other Tweets defending Indycar's long history with social media, so I feel like that's settled. And it made me happy to know Indycar was there first. (Obvious bias.)

But then I started following some conversations between Pat Caporali (@Pcaporali) and many others about what Indycar could learn about social media from NASCAR's example during the Daytona 500. I won't go into all of the details (look at @Pcaporali's feed from Tuesday morning for the full story), but the main point I felt that Pat and others were trying to make was that:

Yes, Indycar has been on the forefront of social media. Yes, Indycar fans have a great community on Twitter. But there are MORE things that the Indycar TV broadcast and the official Indycar organization can do to make improvements.

Lessons Indycar Can Learn From The Daytona 500 Twitter Bonanza:
§  Display everyone's Twitter handle during the broadcast, including the broadcasters, teams and drivers
§  Talk about what's trending on Twitter during the broadcast
§  More consistently use the #indycar hashtag when Tweeting about Indycar (I feel like fans are pretty good at this, but not so much teams and ESPECIALLY not drivers.)
§  Use relevant hashtags for each race to make it trend before, during and after the event (I saw people using the #daytona500 hashtag on Twitter saying they tuned into the race just because it was trending. Imagine that kind of exposure for Indycar!)

Note: These are just some ideas I gathered while watching the Daytona 500 and gleaned from others on Twitter the next day. These ideas, and any others I’ve missed, are extremely nuanced in their strategy and execution. These are just the bare-bones takeaways.

2012 #Indycar Race Hashtags
So, long story short – it's that last idea listed above that prompted me to create my list of proposed hashtags for 2012 Indycar events.  Some of these are better than others, and I welcome your feedback on them. We should keep in mind that they need to be short enough to RT, and will likely also be used with the general #indycar hashtag.
Race Name
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Sao Paulo Indy 300
Indianapolis 500
Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
Firestone 550
Milwaukee IndyFest
Iowa Corn Indy 250
Honda Indy Toronto
Edmonton Indy
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Streets of Qingdao
Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
Baltimore Grand Prix
Auto Club Speedway

It would be nice to decide early on what to call each race. It would be even nicer if the official Indycar website were to post the hashtags next to the race name on the schedule. And put it on the spotter's guides. Anyone want to help me bug them about that? Let's RT links to this article and make sure to tag the official @Indycar Twitter handle!

Feel free to comment on the blog or catch me on Twitter.


  1. Good post, and one good key point was mentioned: broadcasts showing the Twitter handles of the TV personalities and drivers. I'm noticing that happening a lot more lately, so hopefully that is in the cards for IndyCar as well. I've followed quite a few people after seeing their handles on TV.

    1. Let's hope the new NBC Sports broadcast has that planned! =

  2. I like the hashtag list, Angie. Good thinking!

  3. Great input Angie!
    Nice list of lessons learned and #Hashtags of events.
    I'd say we can keep them as simple & short as possible. Easy to remember and less characters ie: #EDMIndy #TOIndy #BALTIndy #MO200 #Indy500

    I also think it would be good to suggest to IndyCar to publish these hastags on their website with the schedule.
    Nice job!

    1. I was also thinking about shorter hashtag ideas, Pat, but was worried the meaning/immediate recognition would get lost. I think as long as the abbreviations are recognizable, that might be the way to go!

      It would be great to gather a bunch of ideas on this blog post and then let the official Indycar marketing/PR team decide on the finalists and post them to their site!

  4. I like the idea of a standard list for all fans to use. I agree with Pat, they need to be short. Here's some thoughts:

    Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg #gpstpete -> good

    Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama #gpalabama
    Barber Motorsports Park twitter handle is already using #HIGPA

    Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
    The Grand Prix of Long Beach twitter handle is already using #tgplb, so I would go with that.

    Sao Paulo Indy 300 #indybrasil
    maybe #SPIndy300 or #SaoPaulo

    Indianapolis 500 #indy500 -> good

    Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix #detroitgp -> good

    Firestone 550 #texas550
    maybe #TX550, I'm not sure on this one

    Milwaukee IndyFest #mkeindyfest
    The Milwaukee IndyFest twitter handle is just using #IndyFest

    Iowa Corn Indy 250 #corn250
    short, but I think we can do better

    Honda Indy Toronto #indytoronto
    PC's suggestion #TOIndy

    Edmonton Indy #edmontonindy
    PC's suggestion #EDMIndy

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio #midohio
    Mid-Ohio twitter handle uses #honda200, PC's suggestion #MO200

    Streets of Qingdao #indychina ->works for me

    Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma #gpsonoma
    Infineon twitter handle has used #IGPS

    Baltimore Grand Prix #baltimoregp
    PC's suggestion #BALTIndy, last year #bgp2011 was used

    Auto Club Speedway #autoclubindy
    mabye #ACSIndy

    1. Great suggestions! I like them; especially good to know about the hashtags already being used by the tracks.

  5. ** BLOG UPDATE (PART 1) **
    So, last night I was on a little Twitter bender. I was cleaning house and adding everyone I follow to lists, and in doing so I realized that the main @Indycar handle was following me back. After getting over the initial surprise of being followed by them, (Maybe they follow everyone that follows them? I’m not sure; but usually “big” names on Twitter do not follow me back.) I realized that meant I could sent them a Direct Message.

    So I shot @Indycar a link to this blog. AND GUESS WHAT? I got a response. Well, multiple responses, actually. Here’s our convo:

    Would love it if you took a look at my suggestions for including hashtags on!…

    Def saw your blog when it came out. We've already created the hashtags for each event a while ago, and are getting the word out! Thanks for
    ...writing in! We have some great things cooking for social media this year and are looking forward to sharing throughout the season. –Kate

    Well, that's fantastic! Can't wait to see what you've got cooking! Thanks for responding.

    Of course! Thanks for sharing your ideas, I love hearing suggestions and ideas on where we can take it. Glad that you've already seen...
    ...#indyfest and #higpa, those are examples of ones we agreed upon w our teams & tracks. Make sure to spread word of #springtraining ...
    ...coming up next week at Sebring! Thx again—Kate

  6. ** BLOG UPDATE (PART 2) **
    Cool, right? There are so many positives to this interaction that I’m going to get the one negative reaction I felt out of the way: If they saw my blog right away, why didn’t they respond to one of the Twitter posts about it in real time? Just a quick: “Hey folks! We hear you and are working on some awesome SM for 2012. We think you’ll like it!” That would have been awesome. That’s the sort of interaction and engagement that @PCaporali has been encourage in her Tweets all week.

    But, still. Kate from @Indycar DID engage, just on a very one-on-one level. Not sure if she knew I would share it with you all, but I am! Cuz that’s what Indycar’s Twitter community is all about. Transparency and interaction.

    Anyway, on to the POSITIVE reactions I have to @Indycar Kate’s responses:
    1. She responded! And was following me in the first place! That’s cool. It shows a level of engagement I haven’t seen from many other “big” names in #Indycar, save @BHA who is KICKING ASS on social media right now and all other teams should follow their example.
    2. Indycar is already working on hashtags for races! That’s great news. I really hope they get those hashtags published soon, though. The season start is just around the corner and people are buying tickets left and right. We should be able to Tweet about our ticket purchases and race weekend questions using the hashtag well in advance of the race.
    3. Indycar is cooking great things for social media in 2012! Part of me suspected this was in the works and that all of the “Indycar should follow NASCAR’s lead and get more involved in Twitter and social media” chatter was premature. I mean, our season hasn’t started yet. And we have a new network broadcasting our sport. Who knows what’s in the works? Maybe we should be patient and give Indycar a break until we see what they’ve got cooking. But another part of me was glad the chatter was going on, because it appears they are taking notice and there is still time for them to refine their social media plans. We can still make a difference by letting them know what fans want!
    4. I haven’t been following this thread yet, but will start looking for mentions of #springtraining now. You should too! Thanks for the heads up, Kate!
    5. This whole interaction took place between 11:30 and midnight Central Time, which is nearing 1 a.m. Indy time. (Kate! Why were you up so late?) This blows me away and shows me they have a real, personally invested person (or people) behind their social media strategy. This is KEY. As the head of social media for the company I work at, I take pride in staying on top of customer interaction and feel an urgency to respond when needed because social media is such an immediate medium. I’m glad to see Kate feels the same way.

    Alright, Tweeps. We know @Indycar is listening. Now let’s make sure to keep the momentum going. Like @PCaporali suggested, we should message drivers and teams to let them know how much we appreciate their interaction on Twitter and encourage them to do so. I sent a bunch out like that yesterday, and was glad to see a response from:

    10-4RT @angiewarhol: @scottdixon9 Reminding my fav #indycar drivers to ENGAGE with fans on #twitter. It keeps things real when u interact.

    I was also disappointed that he was the ONLY driver out of about 10 that I messaged who wrote back.

    But I’m not giving up! And neither should you! We have a good Twitter community going and it will only get better with time and practice. Go out and get ‘em, #Indycar Tweeps!

  7. Well done and thanks for posting - we need this! I tweeted last years Grand Prix St Petersburg - photo essay, Am covering this years track build. Have some pics up and have more to add. I tweeted the walkabout around the track yesterday -search #GPSTPETE. Video from last year is at

    I have more to images to process from yesterday's walkabout and will do so at:

    Objective is share what we see in our city and share the sorrounding area. On Twitter, profile is @5wa

  8. Also, spotter cards need to have social media added to them ;)