Imagine the sport of rally in the 80’s. You just got a postcard inviting you to the next rally and the results from the first event of the year still haven’t shown up in your mailbox (post office a.k.a horseback). You scour “Dusty Times” for a write up, and if you’re lucky, they might mention you in the final results for the weekend. Last week you spoke with Bill (the press guy from the rally) on the phone and told him the crazy story about how you passed car 403 on stage 2 with a millimeter to spare, and bullshitted about how your VW with a cam is faster than those silly Fire Arrows.
In order to get the story out you had to physically type and mail it – or call someone who would do this for you. You flip the pages and head straight for the rally section. Pure joy as you see a grainy shot of you and your co-driver with wheels off the ground jumping your European 4 cylinder. You can just make out the tire sponsor sticker on the back fender. Time to call your pal Mike at the local Firestone. “The team made the paper! Now how about a good price on four new tires?”
A couple hours of hard work paid off, and ALL OF THIS can be accomplished in 5 minutes with your smart phone in 2015, but you still have to be willing to do the work. Occasionally rallies that I go to have dedicated PR, but for the most part though, the organizer is own their own to tell the story. Some organizations are much better at this than others, and you generally won’t see a consistent message from rally to rally. Which is why you have to do it yourself, and keep doing it. It amazes me that we have phones that can send text, pictures, and video directly to outer space – yet I frequently see only 2 or 3 tweets and one dedicated instagram’er from a rally with over 60 competitors. 🙁
Why social? Here’s 5 reasons: People love a good story (and love to live vicariously through you) ; You document your adventure for the future; Cyber spectators (more people are tuning in to get the scoop); You can get help at the event; Support from friends and sponsors!
Twitter: Twitter is my top pick for getting started with social media. Especially since you can send a tweet with SMS when 4G data is nowhere to be found. Figure out what the event hashtag is going to be beforehand and make sure to add that to all tweets.
“Fast on last two stages. We’re trying to maintain 2nd amidst FAST #2WDRally competition! #prescottrally” The rally doesn’t seem to have a hashtag? Make one up!
Some people worry about all the etiquette. Don’t – You’re not Taylor Swift and you’re not tweeting to 1.2B followers. Write a sentence like a human, cut it down if you need to. Tweet pictures as much as possible, but know that they take up message space. This tweet (below) caused TWO concerned rally friends to CALL US and see if we needed their help. How’s that for the power of social media?!
PRO-TIP(s): Keep your team message on point and consistent. Once the rally is over you’ll want to post links to video and picture galleries, resist the urge to tell your new found 30 followers about your European vacation, or the sandwich you just ate in a diner. Got sponsors? That’s GREAT! No one really cares… So keep the shout outs to a minimum. Just like a TV ad, your followers will tune out. Pick brands that you are working with that WILL retweet you.
“We think we might have bent a strut, but @Bilstein is keeping us in the game. #presson #gorman2015”
(is 100X better than)
“#struts @Bilstein @KCDaylighters @Subaru @SWRTUSA @Monster #sidewayz #carmerica”
Instagram: For a rally weekend, Instagram seems to make more sense than Facebook for getting the info out. Plus your Instagram can be shared automatically to Facebook and Twitter. A picture always tells a better story than just words, and you have tons of free text to put in your descriptions.
You get a much higher social engagement from people involved IN the rally as Instagram is ONLY a phone application and it caters to picture and video – which you’ll already be wanting to do on Twitter. Your followers are 70% more likely to see what you posted as Facebook hides posts from pages and will be cluttered up by 1000 other things on their network.
PRO-TIP(s): Follow the people that follow you. Search for other rally teams that are also going to be running the event. Don’t worry about filter etiquette, just get those pics out there! Hashtags work the same. Set your account up to share with Twitter and Facebook.
Facebook: 85% of adults in the US have it, so you should consider having a page. At this point though I recommend just aggregating your Twitter and Instagram posts here to start with. Pushing content from your blog or Tumblr is good, but don’t spend too much time building out your “likes” on Facebook. As I mentioned – Facebook wants money to show your posts, and unless you have a $1000 yearly media budget, your fans will only see 30% of what you post on their feed. Think of it as yet another place where you can engage fans and followers that just happen to not have Instagram or Twitter.
Notice the ift.tt links on our page? That’s because I use IFTTT.com to push content to Facebook from rallynotes.com. I’m way more interested in people reading my content HERE than on Facebook. Did it just get #meta?
Inside Tip: Speaking of #meta, let’s talk @NASARallySport for a quick moment. Much more engaged with the entire field of racers rather than just the top five. If you want to see your rally car show up on their feed, you have a 1000X better chance if you tweet during the event or post your pictures to photos.nasarallysport.com afterwards. Their main focus is to promote rally in the US. Transparency Full Disclosure: I am currently the Western Director of NASA Rally Sport! I am on your blogs tweeting your pics.
- Final thoughts:
- Favor quality content and images over quantity text. Blasting people with hundreds of messages will just get your volume knob turned down.
- Twitter often seems like “shouting from mountaintops“, but with a general #usrally or event hashtag, people will find you. We’re social!
- Looking for something in service? I’ve seen this work first hand! Once for a battery, and once for a strut top! Rally people stick together!
- Consider that your friends and parents are your first followers. Do they need to know about a @Sparc0 seat sale? Probably not…
- When the rally is over you might tweet a few more times, but don’t feel like you have to be on there every day cultivating likes and followers. It’s okay to just use it on rally weekends.
- Be social and tell that great rally story!