The rapid growth of social media over the last ten years has changed a lot of things about the world we live in. Social media has had an impact on the way that racecar drivers interact with the world around them.
As a whole, social media is good. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have given up-and-coming drivers a platform to share their story. The online communities have given drivers a voice to brag about their accolades, support their sponsors and connect with other drivers in the industry. I also find that social media, Twitter especially, can keep me posted about what is happening at different tracks across the world. I may be racing in New Jersey one weekend, but through Twitter I am able to know exactly what is happening at the NASCAR race, the IndyCar qualifying, and the results of Formula 1. It's an incredible tool.
There are some drivers who have mastered the art of social media. The Shorty Awards are awards that honor the best in social media annually. As of January 22, 2013, seven out of the top twenty leaders for the Athlete Shorty Award are racecar drivers (1- Fernando Alonso, 4- Dan Wells, 8- Raymond Osalla, 11-Pippa Mann, 12-Lewis Hamilton, 18- Ant Felix da Costa, 19- Graham Rahal). That's pretty impressive.
I was surprised though that Brad Keselowski wasn't topping the list. Keselowski made a big splash in the water when he tweeted a photo from inside his car during a red flag delay at Daytona last year. NASCAR wasn't sure how to react to the event, and made a rule shortly after noting that personal electronic devices would not be allowed in the car during races. Despite the new rule, at a November race in Phoenix, Keselowski sent another tweet from inside the car, again during a red flag situation. NASCAR officials reacted by fining the driver $25,000. Was it worth it?
During the Daytona 500, Keselowski tripled his twitter followers, gaining over 100,000 followers during the race. That's a pretty significant increase. If he had experienced similar increase in followers during the Phoenix race, a cost of $4 a follower doesn't seem all that crazy to those who advertise with social media. In the grand scheme of things, the $25,000 fine is a pretty low cost for that kind of attention.
There has to be some kind of method to the madness of this social media craze. People invest time and energy into their tweets and daily Facebook updates. So while the Twitter-world may be a bit of a saturated market for grabbing attention of those potential sponsors or race teams; there are drivers like Brad Kewslowski and Pippa Mann who are proving that it's possible to share a big message in 140 characters or less.