Social media can be challenging, especially when it comes to using one of the numerous available platforms to promote yourself, your race team or your business. Apps like Facebook and Instagram have evolved from simple platforms for sharing life updates to increasingly powerful media outlets where individuals go to read the news and where companies go to drive business. With the Pew Research Center reporting that 68 percent of U.S. adults use Facebook and an equal percentage rely on social media to deliver their news to them, now might be the time to establish or step up your race team’s or business’ social media presence.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #141 in February of 2019.]
DRAG ILLUSTRATED sat down with Corey Michalek, an NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver who specializes in personal and corporate branding, to get a few of his tips on using social media to build a brand, share news with fans and customers, and attract new sponsors and impress current supporters. Michalek designs and produces videos, sponsorship materials and social media content for Michalek Brothers Racing and motorsports clients through his React104 agency. Outside of racing, Michalek is the creative director at Wondersauce, an advertising agency that services clients like Google, Outback Steakhouse, Federal Mogul Motorparts, and Stella Artois.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
When Michalek starts working with a new client, he first gets a background on the goals of the client. Then he creates content geared toward those goals, be it building a reputation or selling spark plugs.
“You want to be familiar every single time you pop up on someone’s feed, whether that’s aesthetically or with the way you’re framing the language in your posts,” Michalek says. “Things like that are really important because you can essentially create this continued narrative from post to post where people are familiar with the story you’re trying to tell. It helps the viewer understand what you’re trying to get them to do, whether that’s buying a product or something as simple as getting them to follow you.”
POST CAPTIVATING VISUALS
Audiences on social media often have short attention spans. Including a stunning, rare or interesting photo in your post can grab the viewer’s attention and keep them involved in your posts.
“Having a visual is always number one,” Michalek believes. “People who follow us are primarily racing fans, so we try to have the car in there or show something that people wouldn’t see on the Fox broadcast, like behind-the-scenes photos of the car when it’s torn apart at the shop. Whether it’s a still image or a video, posts that show our followers a unique look seem to do the best.”
INCORPORATE OCCASIONAL VIDEO POSTS
Online news outlets and social media platforms alike have put an emphasis on sharing video content over the last couple years. That trend is expected to continue at a rapid pace as audiences consume content in bite-sized pieces.
“Facebook recently compared the scale necessary for brands and influencers to adopt video to the same transition that they previously went through in order to accommodate for their users’ transition to mobile web,” Michalek reveals. “They said by 2020, 82 percent of consumer traffic on the web is going to be video based. The more you can begin to really harness the different technology, whether it’s standard video or 360 video or virtual reality, the better suited you’ll be to take advantage of that trend.”
KEEP AN EYE ON THE INSIGHTS
Business pages on Facebook and Instagram offer powerful analytical tools, allowing page admins to track statistics like how many people viewed a post, how many times the website link in a post was clicked, and how many times a post was shared with other people. Think of these insights like Racepak graphs for your social media posts.
“We use these tools to follow up on the content after it’s gone public,” Michalek says. “You can take the information and change up your social media strategy based on the content that your followers engage with the most.”
FIND A PARTNER
If you have great content but a small audience, reach out to sponsors and offer to send a post or two for them to post on their social media channels. Similarly, Michalek has had success with doing “takeovers”, where he posts photos, videos and stories on a sponsor’s profiles for a day during a race weekend.
“It doesn’t always have to be what you’re putting out there for yourself, but also being able to provide value and creating content for the brands you’re working with as well,” Michalek says. “Having that creative background, we’re able to come to the table with racing and non-racing-related posts that sponsors can harness on their channels. We do cross-posts on our channels as well, but primarily we do posts for their channels to get the most engagement because they have significant followings compared to ours.”
All of the social media platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses. A post that might go viral on Facebook might not be received as well on Instagram, and as a result require you to buy Instagram likes in order to get it trending. A series of time-sensitive posts on Twitter might get lost in Facebook’s complicated algorithms. Play off of the strengths of each platform depending on what you’re doing.
“On a race weekend, we’re most active on Twitter posting results and frequent updates throughout the weekend because it’s a quick-hit platform,” Michalek says. “We use Instagram stories a lot during the weekend as well, where we’re able to show the ebbs and flows of the day, then we can do a regular post at the end of the day as more of a recap. Facebook is where we have one of our larger followings, so we generally try to post on there just as much as we are on Twitter and Instagram, but it all comes down to the message we’re trying to communicate.”