WHY Do Social Media?
Your Social Media Obligation As a Driver
So you might be asking yourself “Why do social media?” You have about 300 followers on Instagram. You post a photo of your car, throw in a witty one-liner, a few hashtags and get about 40 likes on your post and reach around 200 people who are mostly your friends, colleagues, family; people who already know you and people who already have an interest in drifting. You post to keep your friends up to date with what you’re doing, and also it feels good to get a few likes here and there. But believe it or not, social media has more to offer us than GIF comments and shared inspirational quotes..
Social media is one of the main tools available to us to help make our sport bigger and better. Being deliberate in the ways we use it can go a long way in getting more spectators, bringing larger sponsors to the sport, and enabling bigger, better, more frequent events. It also means more cash flow to our clubs, making main track hire for D1WA finally possible. It’s easy to place the responsibility of marketing and growing the sport at the feet of the clubs, however many of us forget that these clubs are run by volunteers, on a tight budget, with already limited capacity to create content and promote our events. We almost need to consider the clubs as the wholesalers, and the drivers as the product. If the wholesaler has a bad product, it will be hard to find customers..
If we want to see these types of changes in drifting in Western Australia then it’s going to take effort from everyone.
I learned of the potential that social media had for us a few years ago after seeing the impact that some international drivers were having, and quickly enrolled into a six week online Social Media Marketing diploma with the Shaw Academy. Whilst the principles and concepts aren’t worded in a way that apply directly to drifting, the goal is the same – expand reach, and convert engagement to sales. The idea of social media marketing is to reach as much of your target audience as possible and achieve the highest possible engagement. Engagement means when a follower messages you, or likes, comments or shares one of your posts. When you get a high amount of engagement, the social media algorithms put your post in front of more people giving you a larger reach. Reach means the total number of individual profiles/accounts that have seen your post.
Image: Spectator attendance at Formula Drift – Long Beach 2015
Since completing the diploma I’ve experimented with some of the ideas and have seen limited success. There are an infinite number of ways to grow our reach, engagement and influence, and we’ll look at these in the next blog post “HOW TO Social Media”. But in the meantime let’s focus on WHY do social media…
Without a social media presence you are relying on word of mouth for people to know who you are, and more importantly, to know about drifting. Social media grows your profile, your brand, and makes you more marketable as a driver. If you become a marketable product (i.e. you can offer return on investment for sponsors) the sport as a whole gets more attention from more companies.
Think about it like this; if two or three drivers in WA really invest in social media and managed to accumulate 5,000 followers each, that’s a combined reach of 15,000 followers. That’s pretty good, and might land those guys some small business attention, but you could achieve the same thing with a $20 paid promotion. If every single one of the drivers entering Matsuris, practice days and competitions had 5,000 followers each, you’re looking in the hundreds of thousands for reach, which yes could also be achieved if you spend enough money through paid promotions, but a paid promotion doesn’t have the influencing power that a driver you know and support has. With such a large reach associated with the drifting community, drifting as a whole becomes a more attractive prospect to sponsors. It means more drivers, more spectators, bigger competition prizes, bigger events and more events.
There is a lot of debate around which is more important; be a good driver with poor social media, or be a bad driver with great social media. The general consensus is somewhere around 50/50, particularly when it comes to running large teams. This is because even at the most elite level of drifting you cannot guarantee a win, or even a podium, but you can guarantee exposure for your sponsors product if you have good social media reach. That is risk free investment as far as a sponsor is concerned, and is why we see people like Adam LZ, Caleb Quanbeck or TJ Hunt having more of an impact than many of the pro drivers despite not actually competing themselves.
The worst thing we can do as drivers is to be a victim of our own poor marketing. Pick up that Instagram account and start helping grow the sport we love.
One last suggestion I will leave with you is to check out a podcast called Maximum Driftcast. This panel of three has formed around the U.S Formula Drift series and although they can be painfully immature at times, they do offer great insight into the inner workings of the formula drift series and how to run an effective marketing campaign. Each of the guys brings forward an essential perspective with the panel consisting of a media guy/content creator, a former Pro 2 driver, and a business owner who sponsors several Pro 1 drivers.
What do you think? Do you think social media is a waste of time? Am I drawing a long bow by linking the success of a series to the reach and profile of the drivers themselves?
Let me know what you think in the comments below. Otherwise, feel free to get in touch with me directly through the Lyncho Drift Facebook page and YouTube channel, or @lyncho_drift on Instagram. Regards Matt