Scottvoight's NASCAR Blog

May 10, 2011

Social Media In NASCAR survey paper

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Voight @ 12:01 pm

Social Media Survey Paper

By Scott Voight

Professor Shaluta
Journalism 300
11:30-12:45
April. 06, 2011

The purpose of this study is to analyze how NASCAR fans view the way public relations practitioners use social media to communicate with them. There are 3 areas to focus on Facebook, Twitter and the use of web sites.
Web pages can be used to broadcast races and events leading to races. Provide information for fans about their favorite drivers or teams. Provide statistical information, and be used to sell merchandise. There are many other applications in addition to what is mentioned, but for this study these will be used.
Twitter is new to NASCAR teams; it is in its infancy stage. Teams use twitter very little and have not yet realized its full potential. The applications used are purely social in nature. Some drivers talk about where they are and what they are doing, others use it to announce appearances. But most use it to inform fans or one thing or another. Twitter has many more possibilities that will be discussed later.
Facebook in NASCAR began after a PR summit in 2009 when the sanctioning body mandated all teams develop and maintain a Facebook page. The purpose was to provide new avenues of access to fans. NASCAR is a sport that prides itself on its service and accessibility to its fans. This was certainly to a new aspect of communications from the teams to the fans; however, it has only been use and in social and media application.
The first question I asked was how the fans rated the overall coverage of NASCAR through social media avenues? I did this because I wanted to get a general pulse of what is being done and to see if the fans knew what I was talking about with the term social media. I will explain further later. In general I got good ratings across the board. I also asked as part of this question how we could improve the coverage. This is where I got only one suggestion relating to social media and that was about Linkedin the rest were either general answers or good job to excellent and a suggestion concerning operations and not related to social media at all.
I followed up the ice breakers with three questions where the person surveyed was able to rate each service from one to ten with ten being the best. They averaged out to be about a five point two rating for Facebook, a five point three for twitter and not surprisingly a seven for the web. There was a pattern though, the people who did not understand the opening question voted lower consistently than the ones who did. Although this survey is two short for an opinion I did find it interesting nonetheless. I gave another spot for comments but the feedback had no bearing on the survey.
The next question is of my greatest interest in the survey, because it will be at the heart of my synopsis for graduation. I wanted to find out if public relations people translated what is going on during the race to tweets, would there be a market to reach the fans in a new way. During the race there are 43 cars on the track all racing for pride and money; however, television coverage will only talk about 10 to 15 of them unless the car is involved in an incident. So how about the fans who are at home, if they could get updates through twitter about what their favorite drivers are doing , this could enhance the coverage and the overall experience of the NASCAR fan. The PR person can be the announcer right from pit-road; we do it already for the pit road journalist, so why not the fans? I got mixed results, it was almost 50- 50 if they would use this service if available the people who said not were not the ardent fan and did not attend or watch many races if any at all. With so few respondents (6) it is hard to tell if there would be a genuine interest, but I do listen to the fans outside the track and they are dying for more individualized team coverage.
The next questions went on to see what kind of fans they are that took the survey. The first asked which medium they would like to see more coverage from and they all agreed on all three social media sites. I asked how often they watched, went to races in person and how often they visit sites to catch up on what is going on. I also asked their age and sex to get an idea of what kind of fan I was looking at. They all were from the three demographics’ as far as age 35-45, 45-55, and 55 and older. I had two females one was the most ardent fan, according to how often she went to races and watched them.
No, this was not the most thorough survey taken by far, I spent most of the time requesting to get into social groups and I am still waiting for most. I tweeted so many invitations to take part in the survey, but to get a good response I would have needed a few more weeks. I received six responses in all.
I did get a sense of what some people think and that encouraged me. I wrote a nice explanation explaining what this survey was about and also added more in the description blank of the survey. I tried to reach where the fan base is the strongest but regretfully those sites were the ones I am still waiting for access to. It shows the people who run these sites do not actively monitor their sites. The biggest site that fans visit was Jayski and they would not post the survey. Other avenues could have produced better results, but it would have taken much more time.

I think a social media survey may not have been the only way I would have gathered the info, a mail survey in conjunction would have gotten better results. Hand outs with paid postage at tracks throughout the circuit may have also bolstered response to the survey.

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