IZOD IndyCar Series Sets A Social Media #hashtag Agenda

This photo is evidence of a fan led social media involvement through Twitter. The photo was posted at IZOD IndyCar Series blog pages on May 5, 2010 and urged fans traveling to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama to log in to, and follow tweets on Twitter through the account set up presumably by the cable media outlet (VERSUS) carrying the race that weekend. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series Admin (2010)

IZOD IndyCar Series Sets A Social Media #hashtag Agenda

Here in 2012, this will not be your father’s IndyCar … or CART/ChampCar for that matter.

Last year (2011) was the last year for a bunch of IndyCar-ism’s, not the least of which was the continued running of a tired and old formula that utilized an old Dallara chassis that was optimized to work well on ovals and adapted for use (with many engineering and driver complaints) on road and street courses with all teams using the same naturally aspirated engine from Honda. The first year of the new DW12 Dallara chassis has a frame that has been designed to be more balanced for use on road and street courses and the teams will run turbo-charged engines manufactured from three manufacturers of Honda, Chevy, and Lotus.

One of the strongest changes, however, concerns itself with the communications medium of New Media and the sub-set known as Social Media. To illustrate the change of visibility and understanding from the top when, during the announcement that F1 standout driver Rubens Barrichello was joining KV Racing Technology’s three car team for the 2012 season, IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard went to one of Barrichello’s test sessions to meet the Brazilian. He said last Thursday it was an exciting day for the series ”and a positive step to start” the year.

“There’s not a person in the world who knows racing that wouldn’t tell you that Rubens Barrichello is one of the greatest drivers of all time,” the series CEO said in a statement. “That will create great competition and expands our international platform.”

What Randy Bernard was alluding to was that Barrichello brings with him an ardent and strong New Media fan base … his 1.47 million followers on Twitter is one million more than Kanaan’s … who leads all IndyCar Series drivers with 448,000 Twitter followers.

So basically, as was written in the article titled “Brazilian Changing Of The Guard, Barrichello In As Meira Leaves IndyCar“, what we will expect to be hearing from the PA speakers in the stands, at every 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series venue during the season is – “Ladies and Gentlemen … start your ‘Tweets’!”

The IZOD IndyCar Series has set an agenda to utilize the Social Media platform of Twitter that allows fans to communicate to one another in 140 character (or less) messages known as “Tweets”. If one were to use their smartphone, iPad, tablet, or laptop to post the messages, and wanted to follow what others who were following the comments and on-track action of a particular race, all one would need to do is employ the search method of locating messages through the use of a “HASHTAG”. A HASHTAG takes the form of an indexing tool utilized in real-time to send messages and look at messages on Twitter … it opens the door to the discussion room of that IZOD IndyCar Series race so socially, we all can participate in the process.

Mario Andretti, always in command, three generations of Andretti get a kick out of Tweet’n on Twitter. Image Credit: More Front Wing

This excerpted and edited from Pressdog –

IndyCar Sees More Twitter Integration, Hashtags, Driver Engagement in 2012
Pressdog – March 05, 2012

IndyCar fans can expect Twitter handles on race broadcasts, much stronger at-the-track Twitter presence and a set of event-specific hashtags in the 2012 race season.

The series is also trying to provide teams with resources and expertise required to engage fans through expanding social media avenues including Twitter.
Kate Guerra (@kateguerra4), public relations coordinator and manager of social media for IndyCar (@IndyCar), said last week NASCAR (@NASCAR) may have made a big social media splash in Daytona, but IndyCar also recognizes the value of social media like Twitter to engage fans and has been building its Twitter efforts since late last season.

Guerra said last fall IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard (@RBINDYCAR) and COO Mark Koretzky “said to me we want you take over our social media and we really want you to just go for it. We want you to do anything you can to help us out. We want you to reach out to everybody in our atmosphere — teams, drivers, sponsors, tracks, local social media influencers and more. We set goals where we want to be every month.”
IndyCar has four primary social media thrusts planned for 2012.

First, more integration of Twitter handles into race broadcast. Guerra said after she saw how SPEED integrated Twitter handles into graphics during the Rolex 24, she met with producers for ABC and NBC Sports who were very willing to do something similar on all IndyCar broadcasts.

Second, Guerra hopes to create “hashtag communities” for each race.
For example, leading up to and during the IndyCar race at St. Petersburg, tweets that include the event hashtag — #gpstpete – will be collected under that tag. By clicking on the hashtag in your Twitter stream, you’ll go to a listing of all tweets that contain that hashtag.

“They really create a sense of sense of community,” said Guerra. “People who click on a hashtag see everything anyone is sharing on it and at the same time see who is

sharing their opinions. It’s really a great place for IndyCar fans to interact with each other about whatever certain event we have going on. Hashtags were something that were asked for and demand by our fans. They are out there now and have been shared with our teams and drivers and tracks. It’s almost like creating a forum, but it’s on Twitter which is such a user-friendly medium.”

Third, IndyCar and Guerra continue to offer help and guidance to teams and drivers who want to up their game on Twitter. In that regard, Bernard invited Omid Ashtari from Twitter to speak to teams and drivers during the State of IndyCar meetings last month.

Guerra said Ashtari’s talk stirred many inquires of her from teams looking to increase the effectiveness of their use of Twitter. Guerra expects Ashtari to be involved in talks with IndyCar’s television partners on ways to best optimize the use of Twitter during broadcasts.
Teams and drivers are also starting to incorporate their Twitter handles into their uniforms, car paint schemes and more. Examples include the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing hauler that features a HUGE “@SFRHindy” on the side to EJViso (@EJViso) doing things to rapidly increase his Twitter followers.

Fourth, IndyCar is trying to increase its at-the-track Twitter presence. “I feel like the second people step onto a track they should be absolutely surrounded by everything social media,” said Guerra. “Whether in our fan village or at autograph sessions when there are massive lines and people playing on their phones. All the name plates we have and use for autograph sessions will have the driver’s twitter handle right underneath the name. It’s little things like that that people tend to underestimate that I feel like could make a huge difference.”
The newness of IndyCar this season also gives drivers an opening to reintroduce themselves to fans. “It’s almost a new sport,” she said. “There’s so much new — with the car, with the engines, with some new drivers — they may want to rebrand themselves and really make this a reintroduction to the sport this season. Nobody has said that specifically, but I really feel they really want to grow and help us grow.”
Race car drivers’ nature may also help fuel Twitter growth. A driver who has half the followers of another may feel the need to pick up the pace. “As you well know, drivers are a very competitive breed,” Guerra said. “So, yeah, it’s even a little bit of that I feel. I haven’t heard any Oh, man, let’s see who can get to 50,000 followers first,’ but maybe it’s something I could push needle on.”

Guerra said she and others are determined that IndyCar will also ride the wave of Twitter s well. “It’s definitely something I am working very hard on,” she said, “something that is very important to me. It has always been a dream of mine ever since I realized I wanted to work in sports that I handle a league’s social media.”
[Reference Here]

Over the last three years or so (2009), we at The EDJE pioneered posting race action blogs that featured selected comment and reaction “Tweets” with posts labeled “Tweet-By-Tweet”. Using Twitter, Facebook, twitpic, Pinterest, YouTube, and any other New Media communications platforms that allow people to have free access to words, photos and action in realtime, of events as they happen, can only expand ones interest and fanbase knowledge with the result of a stronger experience and racing series.

People experienced in using Twitter have expanded their access to message input through the use of “TweetDeck” which allows the user to set up and follow several #hashtag streams … check it out on Chrome (download application) and a laptop.

2012 IndyCar Series Official Race Event Hashtags (16 races) = #name

RACE *** (TWITTER ACCOUNT – @name) *** = #hastag

1.) Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (@GPSTPETE) = #gpstpete

2.) Honda Indy Grand Prix of AL (@BarberMotorPark) = #higpa

3.) 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (@ToyotaGPLB) = #tgplb

4.) Sao Paulo Indy 300 (@IndyemSaoPaulo) = #saopauloindy

5.) Indianapolis 500 (@IMS) #indy500

6.) Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix (@DetroitGP) = #detroitgp

7.) Firestone 550K (@TXMotorSpeedway) = #texas550

8.) Milwaukee Indy Fest (@MKE_IndyFest) = #indyfest

9.) Iowa Corn Indy 250 (@IowaSpeedway) = #iowa250

10.) Honda Indy Toronto (@HondaIndy) = #hondaindy

11.) Edmonton Indy (@edmontonindy) = #edmontonindy

12.) Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (@followmidohio) = #midohio

13.) Streets of Qingdao, China = #Indychina

14.) Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (@InfineonRaceway) = #igps

15.) Baltimore Grand Prix (@BaltimoreGP) = #bgp2012

16.) Auto Club Speedway (@ACSupdates) TBD – Suggestion = #fontana

Again, what we will expect to be hearing from the PA speakers in the stands, at every 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series race venue during the season is – “Ladies and Gentlemen … start your ‘Tweets’!”

Happy tweeting.

… notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as IZOD IndyCar Series Sets A Social Media #hashtag Agenda on Technorati **