NASCAR Goes Into High Gear With Twitter

Twitter Head of Sports & Entertainment Omid Ashtari wrapped up the opening day of the ‘12 Motorsports Marketing Forum put on by SportsBusiness Daily by discussing the company’s unique partnership with NASCAR, whereby Twitter compiles and delivers tweets related to the sanctioning body. He also talked about what the mircoblogging site is working on with other sports and what it takes to have an effective Twitter feed.

NO SLOWING DOWN: Ashtari discussed Twitter's growth potential and said, “People are still learning how to use Twitter. …What’s great is the conversation has picked up. There are more high profile people on Twitter and more fans on Twitter, but there’s still a lot of room for growth. … All of our users use Twitter in a different way. Many people use it to get their news in the morning. Many people use it around sports events to get a sense for things. What is the roar in the crowd?"

THE FAST LANE: In regards to Twitter’s NASCAR partnership, Ashtari said, "We started talking to them a couple of years ago. We wanted to reach out to a very unique fanbase where the fans are all watching the sport at the same time. You don’t have that with the NFL. I may be watching the 49ers game. Someone else is watching the Eagles game. … NASCAR since the beginning of the season has more than doubled their fanbase … and engagement has gone up. We saw a huge lift after the start of the partnership, and that lift has not gone away."

SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES: Ashtari, discussing drivers who tweet well, said, “(IndyCar driver) Tony Kanaan is awesome. He’s constantly communicating with fans and he’s doing it internationally. He’s doing it in Portuguese and he’s doing it in English. … Brad (Keselowski) and Tony are two that stand out to me because they communicate with their fans. Jimmie (Johnson) does a great job of rewarding his fans. He does a retweet thing where he awards (swag for the) 48th retweet." He added, “The Stewart-Haas account was one of my favorite accounts of the year because it had an edgy point of view."

COMING SOON: Ashtari, when asked what is next in the sports-social media relationship, said, “We want to help our partners grow the way they communicate. Some people may have seen this last weekend, but NASCAR and Turner streamed what was going on inside Brad’s car through Twitter. In terms of what’s next, it’s figuring out what’s next in a tweet. A tweet is so much more than 140 characters. We want to figure out how we get the fans closer to being in the car."

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