Live From Daytona 500: NASCAR’s Social Strategy Includes Assertive Use of SnapChat Spectacles, Facebook Live
NASCAR’s Scott Warfield looks to use social media to build FOMO
In this day and age, say the term offseason to a media professional at a league, team, or network, and you’re likely to get a sarcastic laugh. Social media is always on, and the need to entertain and engage with fans and followers is a 24/7/365 task. Scott Warfield, managing director, social media, NASCAR, is not just up to that task; he relishes it.
For him and his team, planning for the biggest day in stock-car racing — the Daytona 500 — began the moment the checkered flag dropped on the final race of last season, and its execution began as well. With network-television partner Fox Sports carrying both the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500, the two sides partnered on numerous crossover opportunities to build anticipation for the race, much of that integration coming through social campaigns.
“The way our schedule sets up uniquely positions us to have a very long and thorough runway to the biggest race of the year,” says Warfield. “What we want to do is come up with something that enables NASCAR drivers, teams, and other constituencies to have something to activate against in January and February. In years past, I don’t want to say we were quiet, but we probably held most of our bullets until a couple weeks [before] the [Daytona] 500.”
Scheduled Facebook Live Shows Are Excelling
NASCAR hit the ground running to hype Daytona last week by executing a major Facebook Live activation at Daytona 500 Media Day. Warfield’s team hosted four two-hour shows that aired on Facebook Live with more than 40 drivers appearing as guests.
An impressive 20- x 20-ft. mobile studio was built featuring professional audio, couches, and live interaction with viewers. It resembled more of a television shoot and was a dramatic uptick in the effort that was put into the platform that was brand new at this time last year.
For this weekend’s coverage, Warfield reserves the right to go live on the spot when something exciting is happening, but he’s the first to note that he finds greatest success with scheduled programming that users can expect. It’s in that format that he sees the greatest reach.
Are Sponsors Buying Into Live Social?
As the quality of content and understanding of the reach of live social grows rapidly, Warfield believes that it won’t be long before live social programming can be a revenue-generating opportunity for NASCAR.
“The more and more we are doing [the shows] and the more [sponsors] are seeing the numbers associated with them, yes, I think there’s going to be revenue opportunities there,” says Warfield, noting that NASCAR brought its ad-sales operations in-house at the beginning of this year. “The opportunity to do branded content with Facebook is something we are really interested in.
“More and more clients are looking at their online spend and saying they want digital for sure,” he continues. “NASCAR.com’s market share in the motorsports space is incredible, and [management wants] to supplement that with some cool and well done social content.”
SnapChat Captures the Racing ‘Spectacle’
NASCAR execs are well aware of the challenges in appealing to and attracting young fans. As a result, the organization has identified Snapchat as a major priority in meeting the challenge of grooming the next generation of NASCAR fans.
The race will have a Live Story on Snapchat this weekend, and the cornerstone of NASCAR’s programming for Snapchat will feature NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. using a pair of Spectacles as a race-day correspondent.
For Warfield, Snapchat requires a unique approach. Content for this platform is done in a way to showcase more the fun of attending the event over the actual results of the race. He’s very much interested in building interest — and FOMO — among a younger fan base.
So, at a race of this magnitude, the content developed for Snapchat will focus largely on the fun of being at the event: inside looks at the prerace concert, parties, tailgates, and more are intended to motivate fans to make it out to the track this season.
“We double down on that philosophy for Daytona 500. No pun intended, this is a spectacle,” he says. “It’s the Kentucky Derby meets the circus meets the Super Bowl. This is a marquee event that is circled on the calendar by sports fans around the world. The garage and the infield and the campgrounds on Sunday morning into Sunday afternoon are unlike anything else in our sport, and we want to bring that to a young fan base that may have preconceived notions of what NASCAR is. Our goal through Spectacles — and through Snapchat in general — is to have a 12-year-old grab his mom or dad’s arm and say they saw something on Snapchat and that they want to go check out a NASCAR race.”
Other Social Features To Look For
NASCAR will be heavily active on all the major social-media platforms this weekend in Daytona. The organization has partnered with Twitter to launch a Daytona 500-themed emoji that adds a colored waving flag to any tweet that uses the hashtag #DAYTONA500.
Warfield’s team will also be active on Instagram and Instagram Stories and could potentially play around with Instagram Live a bit, though that’s not a major part of his plans just yet.
NASCAR also recently struck a relationship with GIPHY to build out a supply of NASCAR-related GIFs that fans can use to express themselves with NASCAR content.
Stay tuned to SportsVideo.org throughout the weekend for SVG’s live coverage from the Daytona 500.