How NASCAR is using social media to connect with millennial fans

NASCAR is using social media to connect with millennial fans.

NASCAR drivers competing in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will display their personal Twitter handles on their respective car windshields during the first three-race round of #TheChase, NASCAR and Twitter.

That coupled with the five-part digital action-film series, which will live on NASCAR.com and the league’s social channels, as well as two Snapchat Live Stories during the Chase, NASCAR is clearly committing to more social this season.

For more on how it is evolving social media and new platforms, The Drum spoke with Jill Gregory, senior vice president and CMO of NASCAR.

You are teaming up with Snapchat to create two live stories. What do you see the value of Snaps being for the NASCAR brand?

This partnership gives NASCAR the opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the fastest-growing platform in social media. Snapchat has doubled its Live Story coverage of our premier race events this season. Given the platform’s enormous reach, younger audience and innovative storytelling approach, that represents a huge win for NASCAR and its fans.

Our strategy on the platform is unique in sports. If you’re following us, you won’t see cars on the track. Rather, we leverage Snapchat to bring the race experience to life – the pageantry, the behind-the-scenes – so audiences unfamiliar with us can see what attending a NASCAR race is all about.

Tell me more about the digital film series: What inspired the idea? Why this format?

The heart-pounding action film series will star NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers reenacting the intensity of The Chase. After each Chase round, dramatic foot chases will recreate the on-track action and highlights of the previous races and we’ll share each film on social media and NASCAR.com. The film series will feature five chapters and is designed to tell the story of The Chase in an engaging and relevant way that, at the same time, is fun and unexpected.

NASCAR has evolved its marketing strategy to prioritize fan engagement and lead with digital and social media. The digital films complement an already robust, multi-platform social media push and will bring to life the drama and excitement of The Chase for fans online and on their mobile devices. The idea for the digital films was inspired by the Hollywood action films our fans know and love.

How do you see the overall strategy between the social components leading up to and during the race tie in with the live broadcast?

With our Chase campaign, we want fans to engage with us and our partners on digital and social media, but at the same time we’re also encouraging fans to buy tickets to Chase races and tune-in to the broadcasts on NBC or NBCSN. It’s all about driving consumption of our sport during the most exciting time in our season, and different platforms help in different ways. Snapchat brings to life how cool and unique our races are, in an effort get new fans to attend. The digital films underscore the intensity of races and will serve as a midweek reminder to tune in that weekend.

It doesn’t get any better than the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, so we’re channeling the drama and excitement through an integrated campaign designed to reach and inspire fans across multiple platforms.

Live streaming, and more specifically Facebook Live, are becoming very popular, will we see that from NASCAR during the "Chase for the Sprint Cup”?

Facebook Live has become an increasingly popular part of the social media mix for NASCAR and is a great way to bring fans behind the scenes and even closer to our drivers. Throughout the 10-week postseason, we’ll feature several Chase drivers on the platform, engaging with our fans directly and telling the story of The Chase from a driver’s point of view.

This isn’t the League’s first foray into social media, how has the strategy evolved this time around?

Social media now leads our marketing efforts, which wasn’t the case the last few years. It’s not just a bolt-on component to our strategy. Rather, social guides the strategy and creative process, and that’s evident in this year’s Ready. Set. Chase campaign.

We anticipate this year’s Chase to be the most social postseason in our history as the entire industry – tracks, teams, drivers and partners – rally around #TheChase. From featuring driver Twitter handles on car windshields to a first-ever #TheChase emoji to Snapchat Live Stories and innovations on Facebook and Instagram, there are no shortage of ways our content-hungry fans can engage with us these next 10 weeks.

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