Social media has changed the way athletes go about their business, says V8 Supercars driver and Motorsport.com columnist Rick Kelly.
You know that Taylor Swift song about haters hating and shaking it off? I reckon it could be applied to social media, which gives fans incredible access to athletes.
It’s like having a driver’s phone number and being able to text them any time, whether you want to tell them that they’re a d**khead, or doing a good job.
It’s very interesting, and it does give the fans a voice. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s a chance for them to say something to you that they would never have the guts to do in person.
As social media develops, it really is turning into a fantastic tool, not only from a fan-to-athlete, or athlete-to-athlete interaction perspective, but also from a business angle.
No matter which way the discussion goes, you always see a lot of interesting conversation.
I find social media enjoyable, but every driver out there uses it differently. For me, I have a real passion for photography, and I tend to always have a GoPro in my pocket when I’m out and about.
My personal favourite platform would be Instagram over the others; you can share with people the journey, from racing the car at the track to all of the other things we get to experience. I’m probably a little bit less active on the Twitter and the Facebook side of thing.
I generally don’t have too much to say, I just tend to focus on sharing race results and the images from Instagram.The whole premise of social media is good; we can talk to a large group of fans instantly and directly, and people expect that now.
In the olden days you would watch the race on TV, or wait for the newspaper to come out the next day. Now if there is an incident on the track, you fully expect to see victim jump on social media to vent, and the perpetrator trying to squirm their way out of it!
It’s an instant news feed, and from that standpoint you’ve just got to be a part of it. From a Nissan Motorsport point of view, it’s great for us. We have just ticked over to half a million fans on Facebook, which is a huge achievement for our team
Grant Rowley, our social media guru, has done an excellent job with our presence, and it puts us in a really strong position as an Australian sporting team. It’s something that we’re very very proud of.
It can definitely be a competition as well, trying to gain the most momentum on the various platforms and be able to communicate to the most people. If there’s numbers involved, it’s always a competition.
The great thing with digital media is that we can get the actual numbers on engagement, there’s no guessing, the reach numbers are real, and important when reporting back to our team partners.
It is a chance for the drivers to show some personality, but at the same time it’s very risky. In our sport, we work with a large amount of business partners, and have a responsibility on the commercial side of things to represent them properly.
I think motorsport is very fortunate that its athletes are pretty sensible, pretty clued up, and probably with the exception of David Reynolds, don’t post too many things that they shouldn’t.
Whereas with some of the other codes, social media is extremely dangerous, because they don’t have the ability to figure out what they should and shouldn’t say, and generally they put things up that are questionable.
I think that you can’t be too commercial and corporate with what you do; you have to show a bit of emotion, both good and in times when you’re not having a lot of fun.
It’s a balancing act, but you do have to speak your mind within reason.