NASCAR Digital and Social Media Numbers Continue to Grow in 2016

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

During his State of the Sport press conference prior to the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France relayed an anecdote about watching a scaled-down, highlight-driven Duke college basketball game on his laptop.

The story painted a broad picture of the shift in fan consumption habits. And for NASCAR, that has meant a shift in strategy to serve fans who want an immersive experience, whether attending live in-person, watching on TV, or engaging with sports at home or on the go.

By all metrics, NASCAR’s digital and social media numbers have shown strong growth over the 2016 season, validating a strategic choice to reach race fans in the multifaceted ways they opt to consume NASCAR contest.

Consider these numbers:

Overall, NASCAR drew 256 million social engagements across all its digital platforms, an 87 percent increase year-over-year, and a massive increase of video content views.

NASCAR saw a 14 percent growth in followers across its social and digital platforms. Of particular note was a spike in the growth of Snapchat followers after NASCAR announced its partnership with that platform in February. NASCAR competitors and fans provided live content from four races, starting with the Daytona 500, under the aegis of “Snapchat Live Story.”

The Daytona 500 itself saw a 63-percent increase in race day impressions, while engagement with NASCAR content tripled.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “I think that what it has done is validated our strategy that we set out at the very beginning of this season, when we talked about leading with digital and social and really trying to talk to our fans where they were and going to reach them at all the places they consume NASCAR.

“We started that with our “Ready.Set.Race” campaign and the Hashtag 500 around the Daytona 500, and it’s really just continued to build throughout the whole season.”

The Hashtag 500, the race to win Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s firesuit, generated 13,000 NASCAR-related mentions in a single minute, a high-water mark for NASCAR content since the advent of the sanctioning body’s Fan and Media Engagement Center.

Central to the success of the 2016 digital and social media campaign was heavy promotion of #TheChase across all platforms, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week playoff.

Capturing the drama of the Chase, which concluded with Jimmie Johnson claiming his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, was the digital film series “Ready.Set.Chase.” All told, the five-film series garnered more than 13 million views.

“I think we’re seeing it at NASCAR, and obviously we see it happening across the sports and entertainment landscape, that fans want to customize their experience regardless of what they’re watching or looking at,” Gregory said. “If we want to talk to those fans, we have to go places that are convenient for them.

“If they’re watching on their mobile app, if they’re watching via NASCAR.com, if they’re watching on television, it’s our job as the league to provide all of that great content in all of those places and then make sure that we deliver the right experience for each of those platforms.”

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