Social Spotlight with Matt DiBenedetto

Each week, I’m asking someone from the racing industry about their social media use in a feature called the Social Spotlight. Up next: Matt DiBenedetto from GoFas Racing, who is in the midst of a campaign to get voted into Saturday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race.

Ever since you’ve opened up your Snapchat account to the public (username: mattdracing), I’ve seen a whole new side of you. What kind of reaction have you gotten so far since you opened that?

I didn’t expect it to blow up quite as much as it has. Every race so far, after I opened my Snapchat account to being public, I’ve gotten tons of people who are like, “Oh my gosh, your wife’s gonna kill you one day. That’s so hilarious.” So it’s been cool. It’s getting like thousands of views.

No kidding? That’s crazy. I’ve been on Snapchat for quite a long time and I don’t have anything close to those numbers. So why did you decide to open it after being private for a while?

I was already like famous amongst my friends for my Snapchats, you know, pranking people and torturing my wife (Taylor) and all that crazy nonsense that I get into. But all my friends were like, “Dude, the fans would love this stuff. It’s hilarious.” And so I was like, “You know what, I think I need to do it and post on my story. It’ll be fun to share with everybody.”

And man, it’s gone damn near viral amongst the fans. They think it’s hilarious. Even Dale Jr. tweeted about it because I’m friends with him on Snapchat and I’ll send him some stuff and he’s like, “You wanna see someone who pranks his wife and funny stuff, all of that?” So that’s been good.

You sing in the car on Snapchat, you definitely prank a lot of people. Last week, you were using an air horn to prank your wife and things like that. Do people not ever get mad at you? Are they just like, “That’s Matt,” and they just laugh? Surely people must sometimes be like, “You jerk!”

I’m just annoying and people are just kind of OK with it at this point. (Laughs) Yeah, my wife’s a good sport — I don’t know why she tolerates me. If I was in her shoes, there’s no way that I would.

Actually, her and my neighbors did try to get me back and scare me with a firecracker the other day, so she’s on it. Her prank game just isn’t quite on my level yet, but I think she’s gonna start learning — or is gonna have to learn pretty soon.

Do you have your messages open, where random people can send you stuff? Or are you not at that point yet?

I don’t think so. I don’t know how that works quite yet, so no, right now I think I just have it to where it’s public and everybody can go and view my stuff that I put on my story.

The more you get into the public eye, the more your life becomes public. How do you decide how much you want to share with the fans and people like that out there?

I think it’s just fun that we have the ability to share our lives with all those folks. That’s what it’s about. Racing and being able to do what we do for a living isn’t in any way possible without the fans — really, we’re nothing without them — so it’s a privilege for me be able to share all that stuff and share my life with them because they’re the ones that make it possible for all of us to be doing that. I’ll definitely never forget that, and I hope none of the other drivers or anybody else ever forgets that either because that’s what it’s about.

I would never be rude to a fan or anybody — I treat everybody with respect and I appreciate them because they’ve allowed me to be here and I’ve gotten a good following from all of them. Whether they know it or not, they’ve been a big part of why I’ve gotten to where I am now, because all the fans have given me a ton of support and that’s important. That’s attractive to race teams; they know I’m personable and fans like me, which is great. I’ve been fortunate enough to have that. So I have fun with it.

You’ve been active in the Reddit world where there’s a lot of fans and a lot of people who support you. What’s that experience been like when you log onto Reddit?

Dude, those people are passionate. It’s really cool. It’s fun being part of their community. It started a long time ago when I wore one of the old Dogecoin shirts with Reddit on it and stuff. It was a Reddit-backed effort, and I thought it was neat, so I kind of jumped on it and I was wearing the shirt and then it kind of went viral amongst the community.

I’ve gotten a lot more active just because, for one, it’s fun and it’s kind of addicting. Those people are so passionate and they really are intelligent — they know a lot about (NASCAR). Heck, they know more about racing and what’s going on than I do! (Laughs) I learn a lot of stuff on there.

So it’s been cool with just how knowledgable they are, how funny some of the stuff is in there. In the comments, the stuff they come up with is absolutely comical, so it’s been fun to see how supportive those guys are. Every race I go to, I meet tons of people (from Reddit), and that’s a good bit of my following, which is cool.

I feel like you’ve genuinely embraced it. Sometimes I’ll be looking at a thread and be like, “Well, Matt just weighed in on that.” It wasn’t necessarily something about you and you weren’t specifically called to it; you just were clearly looking through the comments and decided to chime in. So you’re trying to be part of the community and not just when it’s about you.

Yeah, I just have fun surfing through there. There’s always interesting threads and reads on there, so I just kind of scroll through it like I would any other form of social media. I enjoy looking at the stuff people say. Some of it is really funny, but some of it is interesting. So yeah, I just go through there, comment, chit-chat with people, and start some threads every once in a while.

(A couple weeks ago) I picked up my new Can-Am Maverick X3, so I shared the thread on there with everybody so they could all see it. It’s been fun.

As we record this in Talladega, the All Star Race voting is not open at this moment (Note: It’s obviously open now). But when it does open, it’s going to be a short amount of time. Maybe that will help, because your fans will be able to mobilize for you and get you into the race.

Yeah, we’re lucky to have all their support. And Reddit, specifically, they have some really cool ideas on there, you know, things we can do and they’ve talked about wrapping a race car in a Reddit paint scheme if we get voted in.

So I took that idea and said, “Hey, maybe so.” We talked to the team and they were OK with it, so we got the approval on that. So we’re gonna get back to them and hopefully wait on the voting to open up.

But hopefully, we can lean on all those folks from all sorts of different social media outlets and all the fans. I think they understand our situation, that we’re a small team, and they really back it and support us a lot. It’s pretty overwhelming.

Did you ever get any sense of how close the voting was last year?

Yeah, it almost ate at me because of how close I learned it was. I think if Chase Elliott raced his way in, we would have gotten that second fan vote. So we were right on the border. It was very close. So it was cool for all those people who voted to get us that close.

You know, those people (like Elliott) drive for powerhouse teams, so it’s a lot easier for them to get a huge following and to get voted in with all the backing and support that they have and driving for a big team, while I’m a little guy. For us to get that close was pretty neat, so I feel like we can do it this year with everyone’s support.

Let’s talk about Twitter. That’s another form of social media, and you’re on there as well. How often do you use your Twitter account?

Every day, and I’ve searched through there, same deal. So every day, I try to interact with the fans, share all the funny stuff. Actually Ryan Ellis, my PR guy, got a good picture of me on the airplane that he shared on social media this morning of me passed out saying I was revved up and excited for the weekend. (Laughs) But yeah, I use Twitter a lot, probably as much as anything.

Is it something where you’re using it to stay in touch with what’s going on in the sport? What’s your primary reason for being on there?

I think there’s different groups of fans in each social media outlet. You know, one may fit some fans over others. So I try to cover them all so I can engage with all the different groups of people and fans. I don’t know if I have a preference on any of them; they’re all so different and they all have different groups of folks within each community. So I like to reach out to all of them.

You use Facebook and Instagram as well?

Yep! Both of them. So I’m trying to figure out which one I’m on the most. I’ve been hopping on Reddit a lot lately just because it’s kind of addicting. I’m probably on Twitter the most because I have the most followers on there, but I like Facebook for how easy the engagement is — you know, doing a Facebook Live and such. Instagram I’ve been getting into more. So I feel like I cover them all fairly evenly. I try not to focus on one and forget about the others.

What happens when you come across a hater or somebody that’s trying to get a reaction out of you, somebody trolling you? Do you ever use the block button?

No. I make fun of myself probably more than anybody could make fun of me, so if I get something like that, I usually roll with it or just make fun of myself some more, you know?

I have a theory in life: when somebody makes fun of you or tries to pick at you and make you mad, if you in turn make fun of yourself back to them, what do they do? There’s no response. I’ve done that to people who have made comments or have tried to make me mad, and I say something to make fun of myself and they’ll just sit there dumbfounded. They’re like, “Oh…what do I say now? That kind of backfired.” That’s usually my tactic.

That’s a good point. It sounds like in general, you find a lot of the positive sides of social media. It can be very negative at times, but it sounds like you have good experiences for the most part there.

Yeah, all good, really. You just have to be really careful in today’s world about what you say, and I like to be a pretty open book and share my personal life. You know, I don’t want my stuff to be really boring, straightforward and everything about, “OK, we finished here today in my Can-Am No. 32 Ford Fusion.”

Obviously, I want to share my performance and how we’re doing from the team side, but I like to give everyone a more in-depth look of, “OK, I actually own a Can-Am vehicle. I grew up riding, and that’s how I got into racing.” Or from the team side, just showing how hard they work behind the scenes. (Or) what I do during the week at home, my personal life, like going to the gym. Stuff like that, that’s more interesting and that’s the stuff I like sharing with people, so I try to use it as an all positive thing.

With being so open, I have to be careful a little bit about what you say, but I feel like I live a pretty basic lifestyle; I don’t do anything that would get me in trouble, so I’m pretty normal.

Except for blowing airhorns at people.

(Laughs) Yeah, OK. I should be careful when I say “pretty normal.” My friends and my wife probably wouldn’t agree with me on that. She’s sitting right by us…

She’s shaking her head right now.

Yeah, she knows better.

This interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race next month, please consider using my ticket link.

Social Spotlight with Jim Utter

Each week, I’m asking someone from the racing industry about their social media use in a feature called the Social Spotlight. Up next: Jim Utter of Motorsport.com. This interview is also available in podcast form.

What is your general philosophy when it comes to using Twitter? Are you using it as your business account, personal account, a mix of both? How do you look at it?

Well, I don’t know if you remember this, but I was actually one of the last NASCAR beat writers to go on Twitter (he joined in July 2009). I vigorously resisted doing so, more because I saw it as more of a personal thing. … At the time I just really wasn’t interested in it.

Then I started to get some blowback from the (Charlotte Observer) office about utilizing it as a work-related tool. And so I really only got on Twitter because I was kind of encouraged by work to start doing that. But I told them when I did it, I was like, “Look, this is gonna be me. I’m not gonna try and pretend to be someone else, I’m not gonna try to not say stuff.” Because I always thought and viewed it as a representation of myself: What I like, what I don’t like, how I feel.

But at the same time, I always viewed it as something — and I still don’t understand to this day why people do this — that shouldn’t be used as an escape mechanism to say nasty things to people that you wouldn’t otherwise say to their face.

So I was one of the last to get on. When I did, my theory was I was just gonna tweet about what I was doing related to work, the racing stuff.

At one time, there were so many (NASCAR media) people on Twitter that there was a running joke. Like you would say, “Caution,” and 17 people would say, “Caution,” on Twitter all at the same time because we’re all right (next to each other).

So my thing was always during races to try to listen and tweet things that other people weren’t necessarily tweeting about. I would try to — and I still do this to some extent — tweet snippets from radio conversations.

I do keep track of the race on race days, but I try not to just (tweet), you know, “Here’s the lineup,” or, “Caution.” Sometimes you still do that, but I can understand the other perspective of people looking at their timeline and watching it blow up with the same exact tweet 15 times if you’re following 15 different NASCAR media people.

And then, while I was still at The Observer, I went to a Poynter Institute seminar about tweeting — it was like a webinar, I guess, through your computer. And the people who put it together basically said that they found the best use of one’s Twitter, if you’re also using it for work, was to use the “one-third rule.

One third of the time you tweet about the work that you’re doing, the actual work that you’re doing that goes on Twitter or sending out link, stuff like that. One third (is) about the things you like/dislike, your own personal stuff — like I travel and visit lighthouses, I’m a big Civil War buff, the shows that I watch on TV, I’ve met WWE people and I’ve been to see The Voice taped in Los Angeles, so I tweet about that a lot. And one-third (is) communicating with the people that you follow.

So I’ve kind of followed that. I’ve never been one to think about having your own personal account to follow, because I kind of figure it’s probably hard enough for me to get somebody to follow me anyway, I don’t need to ask them to do it twice.

Well it’s funny, because I don’t watch The Voice and I try to keep up with your hashtags and try to mute them. So I’m like, “Gosh, Utter’s tweeting about The Voice again, how do I — ?”

One time you said something on Twitter about it, and I responded to you, “For somebody who’s so social media savvy, it’s kind of odd that you would criticize a show that is one of the best at utilizing social media.” They incorporate Twitter when they got to their live shows.

Peter King from the NFL, he’ll just start tweeting about his dog or coffee or something, and I really don’t care about it, you know? I’m like, “Dude, I’m just really following you for the NFL news. I do not need to know about your dog.” You know what I mean?

Yeah, and I understand that there’s people who follow you for a particular reason. But my response generally to people who say that is: It’s my Twitter, and work is only part of what I do; it’s only part of me.

And you would be surprised. As many people as you might get who say, “Man, I don’t want to hear about that crap, blah blah blah,” I get just as many people who go visit a lighthouse, they send a random picture and share it with me, they ask me if they know which one it is, if I’ve been there and visited it.

We’ve had a lot of people within the NASCAR community who are also big Civil War buffs, and even drivers and stuff, so I get comments when I post pictures if I’m visiting somewhere. And you’d be surprised, but there’s a few that follow The Voice too, but they don’t always tweet about it.

In addition to your lighthouse pics and your Civil War stuff, you’re also known for rarely backing down from your opinions on Twitter. If you have an opinion, you’re going to state it and then if other people disagree, you’re going to take them on. You’re not going to say, “OK, yeah, that’s fine.” You’re going to say, “No!” And then you’re go back and forth with them.

The arguments, do you enjoy going back and forth with people or are you frustrated they’re not seeing your point of view?

I have absolutely no problem with going back and forth with people. In fact, I enjoy it. Where I draw the line is if you can’t have a civil conversation without turning to profanity and calling people names and stuff, or just people saying, “Well that’s just stupid, you’re a dumbass,” and all that stuff.

Look, opinions are opinions; that’s what they are. They’re supposed to be what you think. If your opinion can be swayed every time by someone disagreeing with you, then you really don’t have an opinion; you’re just going with the flow. So when people say, “You never back down from your opinion,” that’s probably (why).

There’s a difference to me between things that are factual and can be looked up and decided whether you’re right or wrong, and things that are true opinions, where it’s just me and you or whoever just stating what they think the situation is or is not. And it’s alright to disagree with people.

And I know you hear a lot of people complaining about me blocking them, but I can promise you that every person who complains about that said something really nasty in their tweet. Usually I send them a reminder of what they said; I usually send the reminder before I block them. So like, “If you’re wondering why, this is why.” And people complain all the time.

The kind of funny thing is, when I was at the Observer, there were people that I blocked who said really nasty things — and they would complain to my editor. And it would be like, “Well, you said this.” (They would respond by saying) “Well, you didn’t have to take it so seriously.”

Look, you choose your life; we’re all responsible for what we say.

But there were people who wound up saying something to me, who I blocked, who went to the Observer website. When you write bylines at the Observer in the paper and online, it had your e-mail address underneath — (so they would) would email me and apologize and ask me if I would unblock them.

Did you do it?

Honestly, I have relented a couple of times. And I don’t make a big deal about it. You know, look, if somebody’s willing to realize that they made a mistake and can carry out a conversation without being a jerk about it, that’s OK.

Some people say some things that are really nasty, and I’m just like, “Ugh, no, sorry. You had your chance.” One and done.

Do you ever worry you’ve blocked too many people? If you have a story that you need to get out there, it could impact the overall scheme of page views?

No, because in general — and this wouldn’t necessarily be true for you because you’ve kind of branched out on your own now — but for me, far more people see what I write by going to Motorsport.com and looking it up in various ways or having it shared on Facebook and their Twitter account than ever see it just from mine, even if I do have a lot of followers.

And that’s the other thing: Twitter is a tool, but it’s not the only tool, and it frustrates me sometimes. I had this conversation with you, about trying to make generalizations about the fanbase or the world in general based on who shows up on Twitter, because everybody is not on it and everybody who uses it is not on it at the same time.

It’s (one) method of gauging response — but it’s not necessarily an accurate method for gauging response. The funny thing to me is how many people, and you’ve probably run onto it, who actually believe that most people are on Twitter.

It’s really, honestly, less than 20% (actually 21% of all U.S. adults, according to Pew Research).

Yeah, it’s very small. And then you take that number and then divide it down to a NASCAR fan, right? Twenty percent of the general population — what level of that is the general NASCAR fan who’s on Twitter? The number keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller. So the world that you’re talking to is really not that big in the general sense.

But before Twitter existed, we never had a method to communicate with people, fans, other drivers, people in the sport, other sports…

You had to wait for a letter to the editor.

Exactly, a letter to the editor or they emailed you, when email came around. That’s the part I think that has changed the dynamic and it has made it where people — even if it’s an unrepresentative sample, and even if it’s not the majority — they still have a method to communicate with you that they’ve never had before.

So I try to appreciate that, but at the same time I also try to keep in mind that it’s not necessarily a representative example of all that’s going on. One thing I saw that’s very interesting was, you know, NASCAR has the fan survey that’s entirely not anything to do with Twitter or social media.

The fan council thing.

And the responses the fan council gets are, in many times — and I’ve seen some of the stuff — dramatically different than from, say, a random Twitter poll. So that’s why I say you’re talking to a group of people who happen to be on Twitter at that moment. They may all agree at that moment that it’s a bad thing.

But you have to remember why you follow people, too. Do you necessarily follow people that you don’t like what they say? Generally not, right? On your personal side, you’re generally following people that you’re interested in, you like what they say, you share their opinion, maybe share their politics.

So you’re not, in general, going to expose yourself to people who have contrary views, which is why many times on social media, everybody always seems like they’re complaining about something — because they’re hearing something that they don’t like to hear in general.

What’s interesting when I think about this sort of echo-chamber concept for Twitter is even though the data might be different from what NASCAR sees on the fan council, doesn’t it feel sometimes that NASCAR makes decisions or reactions on stuff based on what they’re seeing on Twitter?

So it’s sort of this very powerful thing, and you’re right: It may not be representative of what’s going on, then NASCAR makes a decision, then all of a sudden people are mad. And they’re like, “What happened? Everybody on Twitter felt this way.”

And the reason is because all the people who are fine and dandy with it didn’t say anything: “I have no reason to complain. I’m happy with what they did.”

Then they make the decision, and then the other side is what you hear from because they’re the ones that are upset now because they changed it: “I didn’t want it to change.”

But it’s the truth if you look back at the letters to the editor in the newspaper. Most people don’t write in to say that something is wonderful — they write in because they don’t agree with something. There are exceptions, of course, but let’s face it: Even responses to stories online, most people are saying something contrary to the premise of the article — they don’t agree with it, they think it should be more this way, less that way.

Most of them don’t sign on to say, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever read.” I mean, sometimes they do. You’ll write a great story and you’ll get people who will call you out on Twitter and say, “You should really check out this story that Jeff wrote. It’s really good.” But by and large, that’s not what you see.

Do you view your real life persona and your Twitter persona as the same thing? Do you play it up as sort of a character at all?

I don’t try to change. If your only interaction with me is on Twitter, like if you never hear me speak or you’ve never met me in person… (and) the only time you come across what I do is on Twitter, (then) maybe most of the time it appears I’m in an argument with somebody, right? So you probably think, “Wow, that guy’s a jerk. Every time I turn on Twitter he’s arguing with somebody.”

But that’s what we do. Do you know what I mean? That’s part of our jobs: we all have opinions and we share (with) each other. I’ve actually joked about this with NASCAR people who say, “I hate that tweet. I really hated that tweet.” I say, “You know what? Next time that happens, wait five minutes, and I promise you I’ll have moved on to something else.” You get too wrapped up in things.

The other thing I can’t stand is being corrected about spelling. First of all, I don’t get graded on spelling on Twitter. I don’t get any prize if I spell correctly. I don’t get paid more — I don’t get paid a dime to tweet, by the way, it’s just part of what I do. So I don’t care about spelling on Twitter. I don’t care if I used the wrong verb tense or anything.

The things that irk people sometimes are just really strange to me. Why would you even care? It’s like writing on Facebook — do you check your grammar before you do a post? I use Facebook generally more for family and stuff, I don’t really do too much with work. Sometimes I’ll share articles.

But you’ll get people who are like, “Well that was a crappy picture. You should have used a better camera.” Well I’m like, “I don’t have a better camera! I used the camera I have! Thanks, though.”

Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and I think if we just accept that not everything is and everybody has faults, you just have to get past them.

One last thing. If some people read this and are like, “Man, Jim, can you unblock me?” How can they get through to you? Do you want people to email you, or what can they do?

(Laughs) If you’ve been blocked and you really have a good reason why you shouldn’t be, you can e-mail me at jim.utter@motorsport.com.

But to be honest with you, I have this little comeback when people say, “Jim Utter blocks everybody on Twitter!” And I’ll be like, “I have almost 60,000 followers. So you’re saying that I would have 125,000 or 300,000 followers if I unblocked everybody?” I can promise you that’s not the case.

This interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

Social Spotlight with Kenny Wallace

Each week, I’m asking someone from the racing industry about their social media use in a feature called the Social Spotlight. Up next: Kenny Wallace, the longtime driver and FOX Sports analyst. This interview is also available in podcast form.

You were one of the first people in NASCAR to really understand social media, understand how to use your Facebook page, your Twitter page. You’ve always been so into it. Why did you embrace it early on? What did you see in it that made you feel like you need to be part of that?

Well this is incredibly true: It had nothing to do with me. What happened was I had a gentleman who was running KennyWallace.com, and I thought it was boring, and I said to him, “We need to put video on KennyWallace.com.” He said to me, “It’s too expensive.” So then all of a sudden, he said, “Let’s go to Facebook and you can do videos for free there.” And then I remember saying, “Facebook is for children.” And he was appalled; he says, “No it’s not.”

So fast-forward. My career was kind of not going real good and I was driving the U.S. Border Patrol car for Jay Robinson (in 2009). Well, they said, “You’re gonna have to start and park in Montreal, Canada, because U.S. Border Patrol is not gonna be a sponsor there.” Made sense. But I remember being appalled (about being asked to start and park).

First of all, I want to say this: we all do what we have to do, and I’m no better than anybody, but I do not start and park. Maybe it’s just because of my father and my family being so competitive. And I wasn’t broke, but I was not going to start and park.

So I called NASCAR up and we had this idea to create a fan car. So NASCAR said, “You can get away with it, Kenny Wallace.” I remember them saying that. So then that’s how it started: it was everybody could put their name on our car that we raced in the first Xfinity race in Montreal, Canada.

We raised an enormous amount of money (roughly $100,000) and some 7,000 people’s names were on the car, and I wrote Jay Robinson a check and that is the way that I got it out, on Facebook. And then that’s when I went, “Wow. OK.” Then it became entertainment and that’s how it all started with me.

So you are very entertaining on all social media. I’m sure there’s been times where you put out something and you were like, “Oh my gosh, did I go too far with this?” Because you are not afraid, from what I can tell. How do you know when you go too far on social media?

Well, when I look back, there’s things that I’m embarrassed of. In my early days, I still listened to Howard Stern — and I still listen — and people just had this fascination with going to the bathroom. So I felt, “Well, I’ll try this. I’m not gonna copy Howard but…” So I was taking pictures of myself around porta-potties, in porta-potties, and I’m like, “This is ridiculous.” They had the most retweets, they had the most (reply) tweets. Am I embarrassed by that nowadays? I’m like, “Oh my gosh,” you know.

But we all have this fascination with bathrooms. You know, I don’t know if I’d do that over again. Of course, I did something a little about pooping today, which was a little lighthearted. But you know, I really do get something ready to go, I read it and read it and go, “Nope.”

Oh my God, I’ve deleted so many things. I can promise you right now, the hardest thing for me to do is not involve myself in this political viewpoint we have right now because I’m a Republican, and I have so much to say, but I just know you can’t win. And then it becomes no fun and that is when I think I’ve gone too far nowadays.

And I don’t like to hurt. For some reason, I like to crack a joke. I did say something the other day that I did delete. Somebody said that (Eric) Thames with Milwaukee in Major League Baseball has 11 home runs, and what do other players think of that? And I sarcastically tweeted, “Ask (Ryan) Braun” — Braun got caught with PEDs, steroids. And a fan said, “Come on Kenny, can’t a guy just have a good start this season?” And I thought, “Yeah, that was mean of me.”

But I did put that laughing face behind it. But I went back and deleted the tweet. You know, it just came to my mind right away, so it is natural for me to be conversational, tweet because I’m bored at an airport. I don’t like going too far.

You talked about some of the blowback that you might get sometimes — you know, political tweets, whatever. How do you handle people who say something mean, because you’re a very positive person from everything I’ve been able to tell all over the years. Do you just block them, or do you ignore people? How do you handle it if somebody’s coming at you?

That’s a great question, because I’ve had to teach myself and I’m like anybody else: I get my feelings hurt. I’ve been roughed up, I’ve felt like it’s been 300,000 people against me. But I’m tough, so I never say, “Why me?” and I’m really into therapy. I mean, I don’t take therapy, but I tease some really good friends of mine that are very mature and are good to me.

So what I did is when people would rough me up, I would turn it around and I would kind of play a game with them. I would say, “Wow, what happened in your childhood to make you so negative? I really feel sorry for you.” And I would never argue with them. And so I would always use the childhood thing. That always seemed to work — go back to why they’re so mean.

Then all of a sudden, I felt, “Well, this is silly. Don’t even respond.” So I literally started this one deal I had. I said, OK, you can say, “Hey Kenny Wallace, you were no good as a race car driver.” And I would say, “Well, you know, at least I tried.” Or I would say, “I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, but I made a lot of money doing it.” That would be a little bit of a sarcastic innuendo.

So all of a sudden, I said OK, you can debate with me. You can rough me up. But as soon as you cuss me out, if you go really hardcore, I block people. And I’ll tell you, I’ve probably blocked 100 people, I would say that. And it really silenced the noise.

Well it’s interesting because you want to be interactive with people, you want to be fan-friendly, you want to be approachable, all that stuff, but once somebody is like ruining your day with their tweets, they forget that everybody on the other side of it is still human. You still have feelings. You can’t just say, “Whatever, that doesn’t mean anything to me.” If somebody says something, it can get to you. So you can actually make it more fun for yourself by eliminating seeing these tweets in some way.

Here’s what I learned about. Years ago, a dear friend of mine, Felix Sabates, and myself got in a knock-down drag-out over something I said about Chip Ganassi Racing. I simply said they weren’t a top 10 team. I said Kyle Larson’s goal should be to run in the top 20. Well, Felix got really mad at me, and he attacked me and we talked to each other, we were about in tears hugging each other.

So here’s what I say about tweeting: I can start at first in the points in any series. I can start with Kyle Larson and I could go to the 40th place driver, and I could say negative, mean stuff about them — and it’d be true. But that’s not right. So my point is: you can take a four-time champion, Jeff Gordon, and I’ve got enough on him where I can really hurt his feelings. Just because he won 90-something races, everybody’s still got… you know they can be hurt, and they all got secrets, and I know them.

So I said to myself, “Isn’t that something? If I wanted to, I could hurt anybody. Anybody that’s really good!” I could hurt Jimmie Johnson. Just because you’re good at any type of sport doesn’t mean you’re perfect. And once you realize that, and you see Jimmie Johnson get roughed up, it’s like, Jeff Gluck, you, or I, we could get roughed up. Hell, they rough up a seven-time champion more than they do us, so that’s when you really start to bring in the scope. If they can rough up anybody, then that’s when everybody’s free game. And then, it’s just not right.

Part of your social media success in my view is it’s an extension of your personality. When I see you with people, you’re very warm, you’re very approachable. Somebody will come up to you and say, “Hey Kenny, I’m a big fan!” And you’ll put your arm around him, you’ll make it seem like you’ve been friends for a long time. I feel like I want to be more like that in someways; I need to be warmer with people. I guess my question is, how do you open yourself up to people you’ve maybe never met, or you don’t even know what their motives are necessarily, but you are willing to embrace them. How do you do that?

Well, when I look back on my childhood — now what I’m telling you now, I had to learn about myself. So my mother Judy says, “Kenny, you’re an old soul.” And I was like, “What is that, Mom?” And she says, “Well, you’ve been here before.” And I am laughing a little about it. But if you believe in reincarnation, and God knows that we have dreams when we go to bed, it’s kind of voodoo, like, “Gosh, I think I’ve done this before.”

So, with that being said, I was in school and I was always squeaking my chair. I was seeking attention from the teachers. I was always in trouble and they sent me to a therapist. And the therapist said, “He has a sibling rivalry with his brothers. Kenny is reaching out for attention — he’s competing with Rusty Wallace and Mike Wallace.” Well that’s untrue, because I know myself.

What I can tell you I learned about myself is for some reason, if there’s tension or people are arguing, I don’t like it. Now, I am a leader and a boss, but I don’t believe in roughing people up. I believe in organization and big nice meetings, but I don’t believe you have to be a total prick.

So I was born a lover, and I mean that, because I’ve read some things by Steven Tyler, the lead singer for Aerosmith. I’ve seen Steven Tyler give the biggest obese lady the biggest hug and just embrace her, when most people would go, “Oh my God, you’re too big. You’re nasty.” And my mother said, “Boy, Kenny, you are always good to little old ladies.” And it just taught me that, you know, you can’t just hug good-looking ladies. Everybody needs love. So Jeff, I kind of compiled all that and I’m like, “Everybody needs the love.”

You know, my brother Rusty, he’s won 50-something races and he flat-looked at me one day and he was mad at me. He said, “OK, Kenny, you win the ‘Everybody likes me’ award.” And I looked him, and it had crushed me. My brother Rusty was jealous of me that everybody liked me. So, you know, but I’m jealous of Rusty — I’d love to have one Cup win. But here I’ve never won a Cup race, and he wants what I have.

And Jeff Gordon said to me, “God, I wish I could laugh like you, Kenny.” And he was serious. And I take these great drivers, and then I had to learn that, “Oh my God, all they’re good at is driving a car around in circles really fast.”

You know, I really started learning what was wrong with us. So somebody can hit a baseball really far, and what, now you can solve world peace? So I just know that everybody needs to love everybody and nobody is really better than anybody. And if you’re really good at something, I really respect you and I admire you for it. But it doesn’t mean you’re a good person.

Well that’s important and I think that can come through on social media and make a difference because there’s so much negativity out there. If you can sort of cut through that and spread a positive message, make people feel good, show that there’s a different way, put aside the angry people and try to have fun with it, I think that seems to be the key to enjoying social media. I feel like you, maybe more than anybody I see out there, have sort of captured that. Is that fair to say?

Yeah, and I take my chances. This has nothing to do with you, and I want to make sure that you don’t get in trouble for what I’m gonna say, but you know, Jenna Fryer’s a very strong-willed lady, and I recognize that and I’ve known that for years. But she got roughed up (in written form) by one of the world’s greatest race car drivers, Mario Andretti, and it almost appalled me. You know, Mario went at her (about a controversial column regarding Fernando Alonso), and then everybody started going at her.

But you know, we put ourselves out there. And I already knew what she was going through, and I said that it’s amazing that sometimes the media will eat their own. And what I mean by that is that we are in a new environment where it’s insane, you know? Either people are too sensitive or they’re too harsh.

Listen, I’ve got a lot of bad things to say, but there’s no way I would have said them because they’re too hurtful. And it goes back to what I said: If you want, I can go right down the line. It’s like the movie where the man goes around the table and literally makes fun of everybody. It’s like, “Oh my God.” So, social (media) is brutal and it’s great and it’s bad.

What advice would you give to younger drivers who are trying to navigate this world? Right now, the sport’s in need of people to show personality like you’ve shown throughout your career. How would you tell them to do that?

I would tell them that I understand they want their privacy and I understand that they’re quiet. Being quiet is not a cool new thing. Me and Ryan Blaney had a conversation about this. Ryan Blaney said that he wanted to send a message that he’s very serious when we know he’s not. He’s funny, and he has a lot of good wit; he’s funny.

And I said, “Why are you walking around the garage area all serious?” He goes, “Well, I want to send a message that I’m serious.” But then you look at Clint Bowyer, who runs second, wins races, and just is as crazy as me, and he can get away with it because he runs good.

I would tell all race car drivers coming up now today: Be yourself. You know, if you’re waiting for an airplane or you’re somewhere eating lunch and you’ve just gotten moments that you’re just bored, get on social (media). I mean, I’m on social (media) all the time because I truly am bored that much. I’m waiting for an airplane, I’m drinking coffee.

So as hyper as I am and as many places as I go — when you travel as much as we do and you do, it could appear we’re busy, but we’re not. We’re not that busy, we’re just traveling. Get on your phone and create entertainment. It makes me laugh.

Well, thank you for joining us.

No, thank you. And I admire you; I really do. You know, I just want to make sure before we’re done that, you know, you took a chance, you quit your job, you got out on your own, and that’s the American dream, and that’s very hard to do. It’s very scary for me to watch you do it, but you’re my hero, and I wish more of us could do that. That’s kind of what America was built on. So good job and keep digging.

Thank you very much, and the feeling is very mutual. Like I said, I wish I could be more like you a lot of times.

You’re good. (Laughs)

This interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

Social Spotlight with Brennan Poole

Each week, I’m asking someone from the racing industry about their social media use in a feature called the Social Spotlight. Up next: Brennan Poole, the Xfinity Series driver from Chip Ganassi Racing. You can follow Poole’s vlog on YouTube here or check out his Twitter and Instagram feeds. This interview is also available in podcast form.

You’re into a lot of different forms of social media. What’s your favorite?

That’s a good question. I was trying to come up with something funny to say there, but I just don’t have anything. I totally bombed it.

But I like YouTube. I like creating the vlogs and doing the videos. Like you said, it’s Friday here in Bristol and I have vlog coming out today, so I’m excited about that. It’s a West Coast Swing vlog. I got to go out there and run Corvettes and I went hiking and I was in Vegas. We ran into Siegfried from Siegfried & Roy, so I have a lot of cool content for the vlogs. That’s what’s really fun to me — trying to make a little movie every day. So I enjoy doing that. It is tough, though. It does take up a lot of time and I end up becoming slack and missing things and whatever.

But I also enjoy Twitter and Instagram. What’s cool about Instagram is that it’s just pictures. I think nowadays, we all live in this world where we want to see images and we want to watch video — we don’t really want to read much of anything. So on Twitter, I watch the videos and I look at pictures on Twitter that might not be on Instagram. I like Twitter because I can share news and articles and post links that you can click on to go right to things, but I’m probably on Instagram more than anything else.

I did like Vine, but it doesn’t exist now.

Yeah, what the hell? Vine was a big loss.

Yeah, Vine was like, when I’m in the restroom, I’m just on Vine the whole time scrolling through every video. And when I see something funny, I send it to a friend and it just grows out of control and then my entire friend group is watching this one stupid Vine.

But I had some Vines that I thought were funny, but it seemed like Vine was hard to gain followers yourself. If you weren’t a Vine star, you weren’t gonna gain traction because everybody was only watching their content, so that part of it was tough.

Where like YouTube, your content is just out there for everyone and you can just push out whatever you want and you can really start to grow. I think my subscribers have been growing, and of course all my content now is on NASCAR.com, so you can watch all my stuff on their YouTube channel or whatever, but it’s on their website. We got 1,200 views on the Daytona vlog, so I’m kind of proud of that. I’m hoping that it’ll continue to grow.

Let’s talk about the YouTube stuff for a little bit. How did you decide that you wanted to be a vlogger, and is it one of these things where everything you do, you have to remember to take your phone out and film it?

I wanted to become a vlogger because of Casey Neistat. I was watching his vlogs every day and I was like, “Man, this guy is really good. He’s really interesting.” I was so influenced by listening to him talk about his struggles and how he became successful and stuff that he was working on to still become more successful, and so kind of being able to watch that journey with him day by day, I was like, “Man, this is something that’s special.”

And so I thought that a NASCAR driver needed to do this, somebody in NASCAR needs to do this. And the more I watched him, the more time that went by, I was like, “Screw it, I’m gonna just buy a camera and do it.” Now, I do shoot a lot of it off my phone now because in the garage and when I’m doing stuff for DC Solar and NASCAR, it’s hard to be carrying a camera around or have a backpack for the camera and everything.

Nowadays on your phone you can shoot 4K, so I just grab my phone and start shooting whatever I think is interesting and I do time lapses and everything off my phone. All that stuff comes out in really good quality, and the audio sounds great, too.

You know, I think for me, I keep plugging Casey Neistat because I want to meet him one day, so I’m like, “Casey Neistat, Casey Neistat” in the media center or whatever and the random chance he may see it, (it might) get him to race me, get him to vlog his race experience. But most of his stuff just inspired me to do something different. It’s been a lot of fun.

What’s the editing process like? You take all this footage of your daily life, you’re going around doing all this stuff, and then you have to sit down once a week or once every couple of weeks and try to put all this together. How long does that take you and what all goes into that?

You know, everyone’s vlogs are different, so when I talk about mine, I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing a vlog because you can literally just do it on iMovie and cut it up and whatever, and you can do it that way.

But for us, one of my really good friends, Bryan Baumgartner, does most of the editing because I simply just don’t have time. You know, I’m training, I’m in the shop for meetings, I’m riding my bike, I’m in the pool swimming, I’m in the gym lifting, I’m studying film, I’m going over notes and pre-race notes and getting ready for the weekend. There’s just no time for me to sit down and edit a vlog and put one out every week.

So he’s been able to influence the vlog a lot and put in a little bit of his creativity, and he kind of sees some things a little bit differently than I see. And something that I may not really want to put in there, he’ll put it in the vlog and make it where I’m comfortable with it. And it ends up making the video even more interesting than what I thought because it’s always awkward when you’re filming yourself and then you’re judging yourself on what you should put in there.

So he kind of sees it like, “No, that’s really interesting, we need to have it go this way,” and so having that really helps me. But he spends 10 to 13 hours a week on the video because there’s so much content that he has to watch all of it. I try to point out things that I really think should be in the vlog or kind of how the stories went, and I have to give him when I shot what so he kind of knows the timeline, and then he just busts it out and he does a fantastic job.

Now is the vlog almost a year old, or not quite that long?

Not quite. I started it last year at the second Iowa race. That was the first one I ever did. So (the anniversary) is coming, it’s not too far away. But I had to learn through the process to film and record interesting things. If you watch the first couple, you’ll see that I just film in my car or I film in the shop or I film in my house — I’m not like walking around filming.

I think that’s what makes Casey Neistat’s vlogs so interesting, because one he lives in New York City and he’s riding around on his Boosted Board and he’s just shooting all this stuff and you kind of feel like you’re in New York and you’re experiencing some of his experiences.

So for me, I’m still trying to work on that, to make my fans and the audience feel like they’re there and a part of it, too. That’s what’s tough — getting those shots that make you feel like you’re actually there. So I feel like I’ve gotten better at that. My last several vlogs have been, in my opinion, really good, but I’m still working on creating that feel.

You talked about your subscribers growing a little bit. How tough is it then to get that audience? I’m sure at times, you put out a video and you’re waiting for the reaction and you’re like, “Hello?” You know, just the feeling of, “Does anybody see this? How can I get this in front of more people?”

For me, that’s why I try to do this stuff with NASCAR.com to help more people realize that it’s there (NASCAR has been uploading Poole’s videos to its own YouTube channel). I think for me on my social media and stuff I’m almost at 10,000 followers on Twitter and I’m close to 6,000 on Instagram, so I’m trying to push it to an audience that I just don’t quite have yet.

But I feel like if I have the content and it’s there, when people find out about it, they can go back and watch from Vlog No. 1 and there’s literally like a whole story there.

I think one thing that’s important is being consistent with putting videos out, which is something that I’ve struggled with. I’ve got a new deal in place now where I will have a video out every single week, which I’m really excited about starting this week — but it was just tough. Everyone has jobs to get done, so it’s really difficult to put time towards a product that you’re just trying to grow by yourself. It’s really tough. So I’m excited about the next several weeks.

Some of the new videos, the content that we have, I think is really funny, so I hope a lot of the fans and some of the drivers enjoy it. I’m only up to 400 or 500 subscribers, so I’m still trying to grow. But like I said, the NASCAR.com thing is starting to get more views and I’m starting to get up over 1,000 views on some of my videos, which for me is a big step. I think when you’re at a smaller number, getting to that first 1,000 is really hard, and then getting to the next 1,000 is a little easier, and the next and the next and the next, it kind of gets a little easier as it grows.

Hopefully by the end of this year, my goal was to get 50,000 views on a video or like 50,000 subscribers — 50,000 subscribers is insane, I try to be realistic — maybe 20,000, but that’s just really what I want to try and do because I like vlogging and doing it so much, and I feel like there’s a space there to create some interesting content and really give people a bit of a behind-the-scenes of what a race car driver really goes through.

I’m still a normal guy and a normal kid and I do normal things, but also you get to see a little bit of the training and the work side of things, being at the shop and kind of what I’m dealing with. I think it’s kind of cool because through video, you can really experience what someone’s going through, where  through a tweet or a picture, you might not necessarily see all that.

Do you want your vlog to be something that is mainly consumed by race fans, or do you have a vision of it becoming something that can attract the mainstream audience?

Yeah, I want it to attract the mainstream audience. I want it to be where people are tuning into the vlogs just because they’re interesting. I feel like that’s what people do with Casey Neistat’s vlogs and some of the other vloggers on YouTube; people just tune in because they’re invested in them as a person and so I really want to grow. Not that I want attention or anything like that, I just want to be a normal guy who’s filming normal stuff who happens to be a race car driver and just inviting everyone in to see what that’s like.

Does anybody around you question the commitment level? Because it sounds like you’re really committed to this, and they’re like, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

(Laughs) Yeah, I mean a few people like some of my teammates and stuff are like, “Man, you just walk around and video everything and yourself and it’s gotta be timed and it’s awkward?” I’m like, “Yeah, it is.” But when I go back and I watch the video or I watch something that I felt like was awkward but I just acted through it, basically, I watch it like, “Man, that was actually really good.” So I try to be comfortable and just not really care as much about what I’m filming. Like now, I’ll just walk through the airport, I’ll walk to dinner, I’ll walk on the street and I’ll just be filming and recording and I don’t really care.

Are people looking at you funny?

Yeah, people are like, “What is that guy doing?” So now, because I capture a lot of stuff on my phone other than my actual camera, I think people just think that I’m Snapchatting or posting an Instagram story or something; they don’t really know. I’m like, “They don’t know what I’m doing, so whatever, it doesn’t matter.”

Let’s talk about a few other social media networks. You touched on Twitter. How much are you on Twitter, looking at tweets?

I probably look at Twitter everyday. I read something the other day that’s like people look at their phone within the first 10 minutes of waking up or something, but I would say I’m probably one of those people. I mean, that’s where I get most of my news. I don’t really watch the news on TV, I’m not searching the web or anything, I’m not really on BuzzFeed now.

Lindsey (Giannini, his girlfriend) is obsessed with BuzzFeed; I looked at her data the other day and 78% of it was from BuzzFeed. So, I was giving her a hard time about that because BuzzFeed is just kind of ridiculous. They do a great job and there’s some good news on there and the quizzes are fun, but BuzzFeed, you’re taking over my girlfriend’s life, so please, settle down!

But Twitter, I’m on there and usually I try to answer every fan, too. I don’t have an insane amount of followers yet — like I said, I’m almost at 10,000 — so if someone asks me something, I usually answer. Or if somebody gives me a compliment or whatever, I’ll like the tweet. I always try to interact with everyone as best as I can, you know?

I had a lot of people talking to me this past week about the NBA playoffs and the NHL playoffs, too, because I posted one tweet where I was like, “Man, the NBA playoffs are awesome.” And then people were like, “No, watch hockey!” And people were talking about like, “No, what are you talking about? Watch basketball!” I’m like, “Guys, I watch both, calm down.” But I think that’s what’s cool about Twitter — being able to interact with fans instantly. It’s kind of like texting, but through the Internet.

You touched on Instagram. Do you prefer Instagram stories or Snapchat stories?

When Instagram first put out their stories, I was like, “Come on guys, stop stealing other people’s things. It’s just kind of getting ridiculous.” Like on all social media, there’s a giant war going on that none of us even know it happening between all of them.

But I look at all the Instagram stories because I get bored and I’ve already scrolled through so many pictures on Instagram. If I’m on a flight or waiting to get on the plane or at a restaurant by myself, whatever, I scroll though it. So I’ll look through everyone’s stories, but for me, I like Snapchat a little bit better.

Plus, they’re the original guys. It’s kind of like my favorite Mexican food restaurant, well one of them, it’s the original Ninfa’s in Houston and the original is just better than all the chain Ninfa’s around. All my friends are on Snapchat, so we just use Snapchat.

I kind of agree with you in that even though there’s more people on Instagram, I prefer Snapchat. I almost get annoyed when people post Instagram stories. It’s kind of like, “Great, now I have to look at this.”

You have to look at it twice! And now Facebook has stories, too. Did you see that? So it’s like, “What’s happening?” And that’s what’s interesting, too, that’s why I come back to YouTube all the time because YouTube’s like you can make a mini movie. It’s like making stories and people are seeing what you’re doing and it’s kind of like a vlog through your story, but on YouTube there’s this content that is there forever, and you can always go back and look at it.

I think that’s one thing for me that’s special, because I’m recording all these moments in my career as I’m moving forward and I’m always gonna have that to go back and look on, which is pretty cool.

How do people subscribe to your channel if they’re listening and they’re not huge YouTubers?

If you just go to YouTube.com and you search “Brennan Poole,” my channel actually will come up and you can click on it. It’ll list all my vlogs, you’ll see all of them. You’ll also see some other random videos in there, perhaps me crashing somebody a few years ago, or Talladega race is very common with my name if you search it, but my videos are there.

And in the video I give you an option at the end of the newer vlogs that you can click there to subscribe, and basically when you have a YouTube profile and you subscribe to a channel, it’ll give you a notification whenever I post a new video.

This interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

Social Spotlight with Mike Joy

This is the latest in a series of interviews where I ask people in the racing industry about their social media usage. The interviews are also available in podcast form. This week: Mike Joy, the longtime NASCAR broadcaster from FOX Sports. Joy is on Twitter at @mikejoy500.

First of all, I see you a lot on Twitter. Are there any other platforms that you are active on?

I’m on Facebook, but it’s mainly as a member of groups: One for the road race car — the BMW my son races — two for vintage MGs and there’s even a group on there for cars that I used to race back in the 70s in IMSA. So, it’s mainly for the group aspects why I’m on Facebook.

FOX introduced us to Twitter. When Twitter was fairly new, they thought that it would be a good idea for us to have an online presence, and when we saw that a lot of the teams and drivers and crew people and families were on there too — and especially when we found at Daytona that we could sometimes get quicker updates of things that were happening by looking at Twitter than by chasing PR people around the pits — that really became a great platform for all the FOX people.

I’ve done a couple of things on Reddit, but just from time to time, and (those) things are scheduled, so I don’t have a regular presence on there. I have a family, so you have to spend some time offline. (Smiles)

But yeah, every once in a while, if I’m at a hotel or an airport or in the evening, I’ll just pop up on (Twitter) and say, “All right, who’s got questions? Who’s looking for a little more information or, more likely, explanation?” Because it’s hard to get into detail on the telecast — we’re always moving from one story to another, from one car to another, and there’s a lot of things about this sport that we know are difficult to understand in 30 seconds of explanation, so if people have questions, it’s fun to try and help.

Some of the angry people online, they’re yelling at the coverage, they’re yelling about that, they’re taking it on you. And instead of saying to yourself, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I’m not even going to give this the time of day,” you explain a lot of what’s going on. Why do you choose to do that?

I think if people are better educated about why things happen in sports television, they’ll be more tolerant when things don’t always happen the way they want them to. So if you explain to people, then they can make an informed decision whether they’re really upset about it or not. And a lot of times it won’t change their opinion, but at least they’ll know why we didn’t interview their driver after a race, or why we only had one or two replays of an incident, or why we keep showing one in-car camera and maybe you don’t see as much coverage of another.

All these things happen for a reason — decisions are made often at a very rapid pace down in that TV truck, and hopefully we come out of it with a really good telecast.

I went home from Martinsville and watched the FOX telecast, and it wasn’t the same race that I saw, because I get to see the monitors and the racetrack. And there are so many battles — especially on a short track — there are so many skirmishes and so many things that you just can’t have a camera everywhere all the time.

But we really do the best we can to do a telecast that’s fair, first of all, and tells the story of the race and shows people as much of the different competition as possible. That’s our goal, and certainly some weeks we’re a little better at it than others, but that’s always the effort. We’ve got the best people in sports television working on these shows to try and do a great job for the fans at home if they can’t be at the racetrack.

When you’re answering somebody’s questions on Twitter, do you ever have to go find the answer or ask somebody else on the crew? Or is this stuff your personal knowledge of everything that happened?

It’s pretty much my take on what happened and my opinion because it’s my Twitter account — it’s not FOX’s account. So it’s my take on what happened, or why it happened, and trying to make it make sense.

Every once in awhile, somebody will tweet something at me that I just feel is totally outrageous, totally off the wall and just totally not right. So I’ll just retweet it and put, “Really?” And we have enough fans and we have enough people that look at the telecast in a positive light that oftentimes, they will just light these people up. You know, “Why are you picking on FOX? Why are you picking on Mike? What’s the matter?” (It’s) to try and show them that their opinion’s not widely shared. So it’s kind of fun to see that happen from time to time.

But I think if our fans better understand what we’re doing and why, they’ll enjoy the telecast better and they’ll watch more. That’s the hope.

What does somebody have to do to get blocked by Mike Joy?

Gosh, I’m not sure I’ve ever blocked anybody. I can think of a couple people that I probably should have. But all I ask is that the fans just be respectful. Usually, I’ll get a reaction like, “Oh, I didn’t know you actually replied to tweets. Oh my gosh, I didn’t really mean that.” And you know, sometimes not. Some people are really adamant about their point of view and that’s fine — that’s their point of view. I guess it only gets me upset when they either try and put forth their point of view as fact without knowing the facts or if they start picking on people directly. That doesn’t go.

Do you use Twitter to help your job when you’re on the air? Or is there too much going on that you can’t really incorporate it?

There was a time about a year ago when we glanced at Twitter during a show, especially during a practice show, looking for scraps of news out of the garage or things that were going on to help lead the telecast in a different direction or a more interesting direction. For a time we were doing it during the race as well. Now, Andy Jeffers, who’s our stage manager, he monitors Twitter during the race and he follows the teams, the PR people, the wives, everybody, the drivers and gets us some interesting comments. There’s some of it we repeat on air, some of which they actually pop the tweet up on air, that kind of thing. So Twitter does become a part of the telecast in that way.

But we’ve got so many different things going on that some day I’d like you to just come and sit in and see what that’s all about to gain a better understanding of it for your readers. But there’s enough going on that no, I’m not checking my Twitter feed during the telecast. No time for that.

I know you have a lot of people helping you, and you rely on them to feed you information. But you may not know everything that’s going on. So some information might not get relayed to you.

Well that’s true, but that’s why we have talented pit reporters and their spotters down on the ground chasing those stories. If Andy sees something or if Darrell checks his Twitter and finds something during a commercial, we’ll look at it; if necessary, we’ll talk about it, we’ll get it up there. But hopefully we don’t miss major stories.

Quite frankly, Twitter has become the place where a lot of stories break now. Twitter has really become the place for leaks and squeaks. A lot of stories come there first and then get explored from there.

When Twitter wasn’t around 10 years ago, compared to now, how has that changed what you do as a broadcaster?

Oh my goodness. Our job was incredibly harder (before) because we’d have to spend a lot more time in the garage, in the media center, running back and forth — and at that time TV, radio, and pit reporters, we’d all run together. We’d all run around and I’d bump into you, “Hey, what do you got, what’s going on, who have you talked to?” I’d tell you, you’d tell me, we’d go in the media center, talk with somebody else.

And now everybody rushes to Twitter with the first hint of a story. So in the morning, that’s the last thing I check before I leave the hotel and I’ll have a look at it when I first get to the racetrack to see what’s going on, see what the stories are. So it’s made the job a lot easier.

On the other hand, it means I don’t spend as much time with other reporters and other broadcasters and writers running around because the information flow is so much easier for us now than it was then.

I suppose in some ways, the fans can see everything just like we can. So TV can be two minutes behind Twitter and fans are like, “Yeah, we already know that.” Do you know what I mean?

Yes, but as a medium, it’s completely different. The job of the telecast is to tell the story and give the news of what happened during that practice session, that qualifying session, that race and put it together in a way that informs, educates and entertains.

Twitter strips a lot of that away just to the bare essence of 140 characters and a lot of times, it’s the drivers directly or the crew chiefs or the car owners directly who are on there with their comments, and that’s just pure and unvarnished. I think that’s where professional athletes, not just in racing, have really embraced Twitter because it’s them getting their thoughts out there, and they’re not subject to interpretation by a PR person or a writer or a broadcaster before they get to the fan.

Where do you think this is all going next? Obviously the NASCAR industry is pretty heavily on Twitter at this point — pretty much everybody’s looking at it. What’s the next evolution of this?

I think the best way to look at Twitter is to look at Dale Jr. — Dale Jr. had a Twitter account, never made a tweet and had half a million followers. Then he finally gets on Twitter and he starts having fun with it and now he’s selling JeffGluck.com hats on Twitter that don’t exist!

So we’re having a great time. I think that the ability of Twitter for the athlete or celebrity to connect directly to the fans with a certain amount of direct connection both ways from the fan’s tweets and the athlete’s tweets, but still maintaining distance between the athlete and the fan, is a great model. I think it works really, really well.

The next step would be having that athlete’s cell number or email address, and that probably gets just a little too direct for people to deal with — especially people who have half a million followers. So I think we’re in a really good place. The athletes, the entertainers, the celebrities, they can share, they can read the comments back, they can emote, they can have a very direct connection with their closest fans and everybody enjoys it. Everybody wins.

This interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

Social Spotlight with Jimmie Johnson

Each week, I ask a member of the NASCAR industry to shed some light on their social media usage. This week: Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, who won Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jimmie, you are quite proficient at a number of social platforms. What is your favorite one to use?

I’m torn, but I would head towards Instagram. I’m a huge fan of photography and imagery and when it first started off, it was kind of a not-so-popular space (and had) great creativity. It certainly has morphed into something more mass; I’ve seen enough of everyone’s dinners and stuff like that to drive me crazy. But Instagram is probably my favorite.

It’s closely followed up by Strava (a workout tracker where followers can like and comment on runs or bike rides). I enjoy my physical activities and it’s amazing how knowing you’re going to post to that app and site, how it will motivate you to run faster, pedal harder, ride longer. You think of interesting names for your rides. Looking for a photo (to put with the workout). It’s a very fun way for me to stay motivated and stay connected with other athletes around the country.

That was actually one of my questions, if you considered Strava a social media network. I feel like it is, but it’s not one that people mention off the top of their heads. But you are sharing in the same way you’re sharing anything else you do.

Yeah, you really do. The numbers are much smaller on that platform. But from meeting other athletes and setting up rides or training sessions with others around the country, it’s really cool.

And then if you go on your laptop, you can designate any stretch of road as a segment and name it yourself if you want. So as you ride or run across through these areas, your device takes the time to rank you and tell you how fast you were this year and all time. If you come through the segment again, it starts to rank you against yourself.

So the way my mind works and living by the stopwatch with everything I do in my life, it’s really nice to see the progression of your rides and your fitness. And if you’re in a big group on the bike and you guys are drafting or being smart, you can post and put up big numbers, which is fun.

What’s amazing about that is it’s probably the most positive social media network because there’s nobody trolling on there. Everybody’s giving encouragement to others and it’s motivating you to do better because there’s a peer pressure factor. Even when I’m out there, I’m like, “Oh man, this is a slow mile time or a slow ride and people are going to look at my time, so I gotta go faster.” Do you know what I mean?

I totally know that aspect and it’s highly motivating from that standpoint.

But you bring up such a great point: Out of all the social platforms, I don’t think I’ve seen a negative comment or any trolling. It’s all positive. When you like somebody’s ride, you give them a little thumbs up. The comments are all very constructive and positive — so you’re right, I haven’t thought of it as being the only positive social space out there.

Let’s go back to Instagram for a minute because it’s clear you have a love for photography. Do you have photographers that work for you and then you pick the best picture of the weekend? Or are they all of your photos? How do you decide what to put on your feed?

It kind of changes from week to week. There are a lot of photos provided to the race teams over the course of the weekend that I have access to and I kind of pick some cool shots just to use. Of course, I take my own photos and do some (Instagram) Story stuff.

But over the years, I have brought in some professional photographers. In Homestead last year, I brought in Liz Kreutz to shoot and document the weekend, largely because I love photography so much. Someday I want a big book full of all the images that I can relive, and she came and shot that and took like 10,000 pictures. And then we took a few and used them on our social channels just to share the experience with others and let people see a race weekend through a different viewpoint.

This year, I started a program at Daytona where I’m going to bring in four different professional photographers and then have those four professional photographers pick four amateurs to come and shoot. So, we’ll have at least eight opportunities for me to collect imagery. Then, we’ll use them through our social platforms. Lyle Owerko was our photographer at Daytona, and then the famous Danny Clinch who’s done all the Rolling Stone shoots for years and years will come and shoot Indianapolis for us.

So it’s fun to see what they shoot and what they bring in their style. We’ll share all that stuff through the social, but then someday down the road, if we decide to do a book or an exhibition, I’m gonna have a ton of photos over the next four to five years, just collecting all that stuff.

How do you decide how much to share with the public? When these photographers first come, it seems like they have all-access. Is there anything where you’re like, “Hey, not this part?”

Yeah, I work hard to get them into anything and everything and I also firmly believe that they are the photographers they are, and I don’t want to mess with that style. I don’t want to push them into a corner and only post this and only show this; I try to turn them loose.

With Lyle Owerko, he did a lot of time lapsing, and we posted that on the social channels. I didn’t even know time lapse was on my phone and how to use it and that it would be cool, and he did that pretty frequently.

As things are developing with Danny, his style is much more creating a scene and a set to take a picture. Obviously, that’s pretty tough to do on a race weekend with how quick we’re moving, but I want to give him that opportunity to put a couple of sets together and grab his traditional shots. So I really let the style of the photographer steer where we go.

I follow you on Snapchat, and every once in awhile a stray snap will come out. It’ll be like one snap and then it’ll go a few days where there’s no more snaps. Do you think to yourself, “OK, you know what, I’m gonna snap today,” and you have good intentions but you just go focus on that other platform?

For sure. What’s tough for me with Snap is that my phone comes out often, and I take pictures in the platforms where I can go back at the end of the day or I have a free moment to think of a caption, work on the photo and edit it. That just works better for me, especially with chasing two little ones around and how busy my life is. So it’s hard for me to think, “Oh yeah, Snap.” That’s its own photo and you go from there. I dig Snap — I think it’s fun. It’s just not in my first line of thought.

So you have somewhat of a social team, where people can help you with your social media. Why is it important to have people help you? What do the partners say to you about social media that makes that an important space for you?

In my office we’d been looking for something that we could own, especially as I developed to be a multi-time champion. I was just looking for a space to really dominate and make a presence. As social media was coming along, we’re knocking off our championships, and we could see that everything was switching to digital. Even websites and what information those websites provide … was changing.

So I hired a firm in New York to work with me and help get my social stuff going. I quickly realized we didn’t need a firm. It was helpful, but it just wasn’t me. Through relationships in New York, I was able to really focus in and lay out a plan on what we wanted to do, and we did a deep dive into our sport and what platforms our consumers used and what was important then.

Way back then — like eight to 10 years ago now — out of all the NASCAR fans, only about 15 percent of the fans had a smart phone. That led us in a direction to bolster our website (as the top priority). So we really doubled down on our website, won best website in all of sports which was a huge honor for us. It was very creative and very cool the way interaction worked between our social channels.

And then I just knew that as requests were coming in for sponsors and they saw our investment in digital and everything shifting to digital, we needed somebody to manage that stuff and really work with the sponsors and make sure things were authentic on my side and then also serve the greater good of racing.

We hired somebody from Sprint — Lauren Murray, now Lauren Edwards — she came in and worked on our program for a lot of years. And she’s done so well, she’s now started her own firm (Reine Digital) and was married recently to Jon Edwards, who’s been Jeff Gordon’s longtime PR man. I’m her first client at her new place and I’m trying to help her build up her social team and her clients. She’s done an amazing job for us and I know that she can help some other drivers here in the garage area and other people outside.

Let’s talk about Twitter, the big one that everybody seems to be focused on in this garage at times. How often are you looking at your feed on Twitter? Do you visit it daily?

I do visit it daily, multiple times a day. For me, I use it for my news feed. I’m always on the run, and the magazines I follow, the news outlets I follow — of course there’s the work side in our industry — but that’s how I consume the world news today.

I don’t go on to my mentions as often. I mean, sometimes you want to see it, some times you don’t. If I post something, it’s nice to see what people think or what the reaction is. But from a consumption standpoint, I do spend a fair amount of time just looking through the feed and taking in the news.

I feel like you’re one of the notable people who’s not afraid to go back at somebody if they’re a hater. If they say something to you, you’re not afraid to retweet them and poke a little fun back at them. Do you ever block people? What’s your general response to the trolls?

I haven’t blocked a single person yet on any platform. Believe me, I’ve wanted to. When the digital stuff first started — back when there were blogs on NASCAR.com — I went through them and read the Jimmie Johnson blog. I couldn’t believe the things that people were staying about myself, and also what they were saying about my wife when we were dating. It’s why I had a quick departure and was pretty late the Twitter game to start with. I was like, “I don’t need that in my life.”

But then I realized the importance of it, so you just need to breeze by certain things and move on. But poking fun back at these guys is, I think, critical. You know, people sitting in their underwear in their mom’s basement, they’re pretty brave and want to say things. It’s funny — as soon as you draw attention to them and let some hating happen on their feed, they’re quickly apologizing, they delete the tweet and hopefully they don’t do it to anyone else again.

It is interesting how when you go back at somebody, they’ll come back and say, “Actually, Jimmie, I’m a big fan and I respect you.” And you’re like, “What?”

Totally. I’ve had that, I’ve had the tweet deleted and then people tell me how rude I was to bring this upon them and get everybody else hating on them. I’m like, “Oh no, you started this whole thing. Be a little smarter before you hit send.”

Do you ever almost tweet something and then decide not to tweet it?

Yeah, I think we’ve all had one ready to send out and we put down the phone and come back a few minutes later like, “I probably shouldn’t.” So yeah, I’ve been there quite a few times.

Where do you see social media going next? There a lot of people doing live video, there’s Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, you can do Periscoping. Where do you see this evolving for you?

It seems like the unique experience on each platform is kind of gone and now all the big platforms are like, “OK, that’s kind of cool there, I’m gonna bring that into mine.” Having a presence on all (the platforms) is hard and trying to keep a consistent schedule of posts going on all those sites is important because there are people who only use certain platforms because it fits their lifestyle better.

But what’s interesting to me is looking at our sport and looking at sports in general. I read an article (last week) in the Wall Street Journal where (Amazon) has purchased the right to stream the Thursday Night Football games. On the surface it looks like a standard play — but long term, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, they’ll know your shopping habits and your buying habits and they can send strategic marketing to you while you’re watching on their platform.

So understanding how that stuff works and how it might work in our industry (is valuable). Nobody’s watching TV; it doesn’t matter if it’s sports or what, the numbers are just going down. TV ad buys have supported our lives, my life and racing. And we’re trying to convince sponsors every day that it’s all moving digital: “Here’s our numbers, here’s our presence.” You’re just trying to understand that, which I don’t think anybody does.

(Social media) has been very good for me on a social standpoint and being able to let others see my personal side and what I’m about and what my interests are, because I don’t give the best interviews at the track — I’m more focused on the job. But from a business standpoint, there’s a big business in that and I think we need to be wise in our industry to jump on that so sponsors understand that.

This week’s Social Spotlight interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you plan to attend the upcoming Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link to make your purchase. Thanks!

Social Spotlight with Samantha Busch

Each week, I ask a different member of the NASCAR community about their social media usage. This week: Samantha Busch — the wife of Kyle Busch and the owner of Murph Boutique.

You have incredible restraint on social media. You must get a lot of hateful tweets, but yet I’ve never seen you lose your cool. What’s your secret?

Well, usually I type it all out just to get it out there and vent, and then I delete it. But I just figure they’re looking for that negative reaction, that’s why they’re sending the mean tweets, so if you just ignore them, they’ll go away.

You’ve been on Twitter for a long time now. Over the years have you had any incident where you did lose your cool and then you regretted it later?

Wait, do you actually remember how we started Twitter?

No, how did it start?

I started Twitter because you were telling me about it and then I got engaged (in Feb. 2010). And then you came to interview me that day, and that’s how it got started.

That’s right. I forgot that you weren’t on it until you got engaged.

You were like, “You need to be on Twitter,” and then I learned about it and you did the interview and that’s how it started.

At the time you got engaged, you had no way of  telling everybody. You had nothing to tweet, no picture of your ring or anything. Now you can just do that yourself, of course.

Yeah now it’s like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Instagram stories, Snapchat — there’s so much, it kind of stresses me out. But with the haters, I really do just try to ignore them. There’s sometimes when they’ll say things about Kyle or Brexton where I really just want to go off, but I just gotta focus on the 100 positives, not the one negative.

That’s a really hard thing to do. Sometimes, I’ll lose my cool on my own social media. I just don’t know how you have so much restraint. Even with the media, I feel like you have restraint — like when Kyle is criticized by me or anyone else in the media, you don’t say anything.

Well, I just look at it as that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and a lot of times I just try to think that people aren’t picking on my Kyle — they’re picking on the driver, the persona of that or what happened in the race — so I try to separate the two and not let it get to me.

I think I just focus on Kyle and Brexton and all the crazy stuff that we already have going on and try and ignore (the critics). I try to really focus on the people that are positive and supportive and uplifting to us, because if they’re going to take the time to tweet or do something nice, I’d rather use my energy to respond back to them and build those relationships than focus on the people that just really want you to react.

At this point you’ve sort of built a social media empire. You really have all the bases covered on all the different platforms. Which is your favorite one to be on?

I like Instagram a lot. I like it because you can do videos, you can do pictures, you can do Instagram stories, and I like really good quality photographs and I feel like you can really get that on Instagram. I actually just, well, thanks to people responding on Twitter, got the big phone, you know the iPhone…

The 7 Plus? That’s what I have. I like it.

Yes, the 7 Plus, and I love it. So it’s got great pictures and I feel like it’s upped the quality of my social media by being able to take good pictures with it.

So when it comes to putting out your content, do you have to choose between platforms? Do you say, “This is more of a Snapchat thing, this is more of an Instagram thing?”

So especially for my store I try to put it across all three in case people like one thing more than another. But yeah, when it comes to personal stuff and my own stuff, I look at timing — that’s a big thing, days and hours and what gets the best response — and how I word things.

Obviously, I think Instagram and Snapchat are a little bit younger, and Facebook is a little bit older. So just try to tailor my message to my audience. Yes, it’s a lot of work with hashtags and everything else, so it takes a lot of time.

Basically what I try to do is get most of my stuff done and then at night when Kyle and Brex are asleep, I’ll just spend two hours — I’m such a night owl — I’ll be up until 1 in the morning getting everything laid out and ready and filtered and edited and posted and then I just save it in drafts and go from there.

So on your Murph Boutique stuff, the boutique you now own, you’re doing most of the social media for that yourself?

I’m doing all the social media for that because I’m really OCD about how things look, and when you’re an online store, your social media and your website — that’s your entire image. Obviously, I have a guy who builds websites and keeps that up — I know nothing about things like that — but when it comes to social media and the pictures we post and the photo shoots and all that, I’m all in.

What are some of the differences in the Murph Boutique voice and your personal account voice?

So with the boutique platform, that’s obviously about selling things because you’re a store, so those things are specifically tailored to focusing on the clothes and showing them different ways you can wear them and different styles and how to mix and match things and how to make the most of your wardrobe.

My personal platform is about showing a different side of us. It’s about showing myself as a wife and a mom and a friend and our foundation, and so that’s a little bit different in how you tell your story and how you present your photos. So yeah, there’s a lot of thought that goes into it, into building a social platform.

I feel like if there’s a Kyle Busch fan out there, they are sort of looking to you as sort of like the “in” for the community. You interact with a lot of people, whereas Kyle is obviously focused on racing. He’s not really going back and forth with people. So do you sort of view yourself as like the leader or the mayor of the 18 community, in some ways?

I love it, I think that’s a good way to think about it. Yeah, I just want people to see the side of Kyle that I get to see, the kind of fun, the loving, the caring, the daddy side. I think people see him for a split second whether it’s during the anthem or after the race with an interview and that’s not exactly who he really is. That’s him in race mode and that’s his job, but what I like to show is the softer side. You know, him teaching Brex how to drive or them playing at the park and things like that that people might not get to see. Obviously, I like social media a whole lot more than he does so I think it’s nice to be able to give fans that access.

How do you decide how much of your lives to show to the public?

We’re pretty open, there’s not much that we don’t put out there. I mean, I think we’ve seen a lot of good come from it. My biggest struggle was if we were going to talk about IVF, because that was something that was really hard. We prayed about it, we talked about it, and I think it’s the greatest thing we’ve ever shared because of the Bundle of Joy Fund. We had 10 babies through it, with three more on the way. We’re going to do another big grant. If we weren’t open and accessible, that would have never started.

When we first released that blog, we probably got thousands of emails and then obviously they tapered off, but I still get at least five to 10 emails a week with people asking questions or saying, “Hey, thanks, we’re going through that, now we’re not as nervous,” or, “Hey, it’s cool that somebody else went through that.” I feel that when you put things out there, it kind of helps people sometimes.

You have a blog and especially when you were going through that, you got extremely personal and detailed, maybe to the level that I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of public figures share. You really opened yourself up and now it seems like you’re responsible for 10 lives that have been created. That has to be one of the most incredible feelings.

It’s wild. Obviously Kyle and I couldn’t have done it without the support of his fans, because they donate and they’re behind it and the NASCAR community is behind it too, which is awesome, and it’s just amazing. It’s wild when you get to see these couples again and meet their babies. They’re like, “Hey, thanks for the funds because now, look!” Wow, that’s just kind of mind-blowing and really isn’t something I can put into words. Just to hold someone else’s baby because of your fund? It’s just crazy.

What was the feeling like before you pressed send on those tweets and everything you put out with the blog post link in it?

That was big. I remember Kyle and I was sitting on the couch and it was in December and I literally had to talk myself into it. I was like, “OK, I’m going to post it at 5 o’clock. OK, 6. OK, 7.” And I just kept backing up and Kyle was like, “Just do it.”

And I put it out there and then we went and watched a movie — because I was afraid to see what would happen. And it took a little bit of time, but I think you actually retweeted it. Then it kind of grew some legs and people started reading it and then within a week, I had fertility clinics calling from all over the state saying, “Hey, can share this with our patients?” And I was like, “Yeah, of course.” So I think it did a lot of good.

Do you feel like what you are putting out on social media in general works for you because this is your natural personality? Because we’re talking about strategy and things like that, but it seems like this is sort of who you are.

Yeah, you sort of have to be authentic or else people can see right through it. I’m that person at the grocery store that’s probably like TMI — if someone’s in an aisle getting (medicine), I’m like, “I had that before. This is what I did.” And that’s kind of who I am. I think that’s very much how I grew up. With a big extended family, everybody knew everybody’s business and we were just very open. And so I think that comes across on social media.

Honestly, yeah, there were some people who were negative about it, but you know what, as long as you believe in it and you feel like it’s doing good, I just say go for it.

And that’s one thing, too: When I have young girls that may be asking questions about how do you handle this or that, I think if you could go back, you’d tell your high school or college self that it doesn’t really matter. In the grand scheme of things, you feel like it’s the end of the world right now, but not letting it get you down and focusing on stuff that’s more important, that’s the kind of message I try to tell them.

You show Brexton a lot as part of your daily life. Does he seem to be aware of the camera? Sometimes with my nephew, as soon as I turn on Snapchat or I’m trying to get a cool video of him, I can’t get it. He’s too aware of it.

Yes, that’s how Brexton’s getting now. The other day we were up in his playroom and he is fascinated by how Lucy, our dog, drinks out of a bowl, so he will take things from his sippy cup and pour it into other things and try to lick it like Lucy does. And I’m trying to video it and the second he sees me bring out the camera he stops. He’s like, “Mom, no way. No way.” I’m like, “Come on, be a baby again where you don’t know what I’m doing.”

Oh my gosh, his first year pictures were disastrous. I had this whole setup — I went on Etsy, I had it all planned out, I got a photographer — and he would not take one single photo without screaming. And so finally, after an hour, Kyle and I were like, “Forget it, we’re just not doing them.” He had cake and stuff on his diaper, so I took off his diaper that was covered in cake, let him run free and we got the best shot. He started peeing on his car, and it’s my favorite shot to date. I guess when you don’t force him to do stuff, that’s how it’s more natural.

You end up posting a lot of pictures on your accounts where you’re in them, so you’re obviously not taking them. How in the world do you have somebody that is taking these great shots? Do you have a system where you hand people the camera and they know what to do and they’re getting these great shots?

It’s a lot of people. I’m that girl that’s like, “Hey, sorry to bother you, but can you take a picture for us?” So I’m always that person. Our PR guy does it a lot for us. Sometimes our assistant comes to the track and she’ll do it. My mom will do it a lot. I’m telling you what, my mom is a pro on the camera right now. Last Easter, I started teaching her Snapchat and photos for Instagram, because you can’t get too close because it turns into squares. She was all confused. Now she’s like, “Hang on, the lighting, move this way, do that.” So it’s really just whoever is around.

You post your workouts a lot, and you seem to want to be encouraging to people in a motivational way. On one hand you have a business where you’re selling to people, you want them to buy clothes. On the other hand you’re trying to encourage people in a lifestyle manner. So, how are those different from each other? Or can you use the same strategy essentially?

I think in both areas, my biggest goal is to make people feel good and comfortable about themselves. I think there’s so much of the world that’s so ready to put you down — “You don’t look the right way” and “You don’t dress the right way” and this and that — and everybody is ready to be so negative.

So I think with my blog and store, my whole thing was to make women feel good about themselves and to raise them up. One thing on my blogs (that’s evident) is that I’m not a really great cook, so if it’s not starting in a can or a box or something that’s ready, I’m not gonna make it. And you know what? That’s OK, because we’re busy and a lot of moms are busy, and so I guess kind of my message is, “That’s OK.” Do whatever you can do and the best that you can do, and if you give it your all, then good for you.

When I post a workout, I always tell people if you can’t do three sets — if you can only do one — hey, you tried, right? And you’re gonna keep getting better at it, so keep practicing and keep doing it. That’s the motto I go with for everything.

What else should people know about your social media philosophy in general, as far as what you’re trying to put out there?

I guess one thing is I wouldn’t really go onto Instagram, say on another fashion blog or something, and be like, “That outfit is hideous” like people will do on mine. I’m like, “Why?” Obviously, if she’s wearing it, she likes it.

So people comment on yours and say, “That’s ugly?”

Yeah, the other day Kyle and I were in L.A. and granted, Kyle hated the jeans I had on, too. I thought that they were cool — they had patches and they were baggy; they’re very L.A., you know? Kyle was like, “Hmm, those are interesting.” Whatever. But you know, people are like, “Oh my God, you look terrible in that, it looks horrible,” or, “Did you really think those were cute?” And I’m like, “Well, if I purchased them and put them on and took a photo, yes I like them.”

So I just try to go on other people’s social sites and be uplifting and say, “Hey, that’s cute,” or, “Good work.” A big thing I try to do is when people comment on my stuff — and I need to get better about it — I try to go back and respond to them by saying, “Thanks for the great comment,” or answer a question. So it’s one thing I’m trying to get better about. But you know how it is — it’s about time and trying to balance 900 things at once.

One of the hardest things to do is to keep up the interaction with people. They expect it, but then you fall behind and then you feel sort of—

Guilty. Yeah, I feel bad because people take the time to follow me and comment. I want to take the time to go back and say, “Hey, thanks. Thanks for the message, thanks for checking out my page, thanks for checking out my store,” and so I try to go back and do that.

You know, it’s funny — sometimes during the race, because I got the ear(buds) in and I got the screen in front of me and I’ve got the times and I can see it, and a lot of times I’ll have my phone, and people are always like, “What are you doing on your phone?” We have somebody who comes on the road with us and watches Brex during the race, so I have three uninterrupted hours where I can multitask at things, and so that’s why I’m usually always on my phone.