Post by Nate Ludens
Sunday’s rain-soaked Daytona 500 was doomed from the time race officials checked the forecast. Since we’ve seen some creative social media usage at Daytona before, I was curious to see how the delayed race would extend to the so-called second screen – 2 years after Brad Keselowski famously tweeted from the race track during a rain delay.
The race was delayed for over six hours, which stinks for everyone – the fans at home, especially. When the race resumed late Sunday night, the race finished in thrilling fashion – with fan favorite, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. taking the checkered flag. As a casual fan, I know Dale, Jr. has had a roller coaster of a decade since winning his first Daytona 500 in 2004. I also noticed that the guy is amped up right now – understandably so after winning the first race of the year, and at a track that claimed his legendary father years ago. Dale Jr. is fired up – sporting a glowing, positive attitude evident in dozens of interviews and on his new Twitter handle, @DaleJr.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 24, 2014
So, what’s so special about Dale Earnhardt, Jr finally joining Twitter? Lots of NASCAR racers are on Twitter. 138 to be exact, at the time I’m writing this post. (NASCAR’s Twitter List of drivers). @DaleJr opened the account early Monday morning, after he won the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Spirits were high, but here’s precisely why he’s getting about 125,000 new followers a day since:
1. Showing Some Skin – a.k.a. he’s using real photos of himself, not advertisements or insincere messages pushed from “management.”
2. VIP Access for fans – Jr. is taking us along for the ride. It’s not 200 mph, but so far it’s been an entertaining ride for 500,000 of us.
3. Reciprocation - of the first 80 or so posts he’s sent, more than 60 have been responses to fans. That’s called caring about your community.
4. Lessons Learned – in this era, social media users have a keen sense for who’s legit on Twitter and who isn’t. Celebrities and athletes have years of messing up chronicled on Google for Dale Jr. and his team to learn from. That’s a huge advantage for high-profile people considering boosting their profile via social communication platforms.
Athletes and celebrities everywhere know that what will remain to be seen is how his fans will respond after a bad day at the races, and how “Junior” will respond to twitter trolls and the
haters passionate, competitive NASCAR fans of other racers/sports. As long as he continues on this path, however, we’re confident that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his fans are in for a fantastic ride – together.