Social Spotlight with Bubba Wallace

The third edition of the “Social Spotlight” focuses on the social media usage of Roush Fenway Racing’s Bubba Wallace. We spoke last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

First of all, I have to give you some credit because a few years ago, you told me about this amazing (photo editing app) called Snapseed.

I don’t even use that anymore.

You don’t even use it? What have you moved on to?

They have Lightroom which is a really good photography app you can get on your computer, and is what a lot of professionals use — I think. But they have it for your phone, so I use that now.

Well apparently I have to move onto that. Every time somebody is like, “I really like your Quiet Track picture,” I’m like, “Oh yeah, actually I totally enhanced that using Snapseed,” but I just don’t tell them. Really, I think the trick for photography when you post on social media is you have to make it look nice, but you can’t give it away that it looks too filtered.

Right. Yes. That is true. You’ve got to keep your adjustments and all your secrets kind of in check. First starting out, remember on Instagram you could do all those filters? And then I used three apps and my girlfriend (Amanda) gives me so much crap still — and this was like five years ago — but like the super HDR. It’d be blue sky but I’d turn it black. Oh, it’s bad.

But I’ve come a long way now and cleaned up my pictures. But yeah, I don’t even use Snapseed. There was one called Camera+ and one more that I can’t remember what it was. But good times back in the old app days.

So are you not as into photography these days? I look at your Instagram feed and maybe you don’t have as much time or you’re doing other stuff.

I don’t do it as much and I wish I would. I’m always like, “Ooh, there’s a new camera, let’s go get it.” Which I don’t need a new camera at all. I’ve got really good stuff. But to shoot track photography — which I’d like to start doing again — I need this one lens, but it costs an arm and a leg. So that’s the only bad thing.

I took some stuff of personal vehicles, but nothing like I was doing. I was taking pictures like every day, but I just don’t have time for it now between the race schedule and trying to do stuff at home, being lazy. But yeah, I want to get back into it for sure.

So is Instagram not your favorite platform? What is your favorite social platform to use?

It’s a toss-up between Instagram and Twitter. Instagram, you know, just from the photography side, whether it’s a picture I’ve taken or a picture here at the track that professionals have taken, share it out with the fans. If I post anything with my face in it, my girlfriend will send me a DM or a text of something funny about it — it’s guaranteed. But Twitter, just engaging with the fans or other drivers on there, starting up some funny conversations. Just between those two. There’s not really one that tops it.

Where does Snapchat fit into all that for you?

Snapchat is third to that. Those three are what I use. I get Instagram Stories, so I keep thinking that’s a different app.

When you hear about Millennials, you hear about Snapchat. You go to a concert and you look at people’s phones and it’s all Snapchat. So why do you think for you personally, you’re not 100% Snapchat?

I don’t know. I like Snapchat. The filters on there adds some fun stuff. You look at pictures for 10 seconds or whatever and it goes away. I’ll sometimes scroll through the news part — like the topics or whatever…

The Discover tab.

Discover, yeah. I’ll scroll through those; some things are interesting on there. Some days I’ll be on Snapchat all day, then I’ll go three or four days without doing it. It’s still fun though.

Do you like the Instagram Stories better than Snapchat’s stories?

I’m so used to Snapchat that I keep forgetting about Instagram. And I think I have a lot bigger following on Instagram than Snapchat. But Snapchat is just easy. A little easier to work. You don’t have to swipe over. You just open it up, there’s a selfie of you right there. Snap away. Instagram takes a little bit more work. But I kind of like the drawing stuff on there, the different font types and you can add your location and stuff. It’s pretty cool. I just keep forgetting about it.

That’s the same thing for me. I almost get annoyed when I see people posting Instagram Stories because I’m so used to Snapchat.

Exactly.

I’m like, “Oh, great. Now I’ve got to go through these three people’s (stories) of the ones I follow.” Not everybody does it.

No. Like I follow Lewis Hamilton, Ken Block — I don’t follow them on Snapchat, but I imagine they do it on both. But they are heavy on Instagram (Stories).

That’s interesting, because Lewis Hamilton is super heavy on Snap.

Is he? I don’t follow him on there. But man, he has some cool stuff. It makes me wonder like, “How do you get that effect?” I know they go through some editing stuff.

Actually, seeing how it worked yesterday with (YouTube trick-shot star) Brodie Smith, and he recorded it all, but then they were cutting through sections. Like they cut out a lot of stuff. I’m like, “Huh. That’s interesting. I need to figure out how to do that.”

Like right there, on an app?

So he turned his phone on Airplane Mode, so nothing was going to go through. But he was just recording on the camera roll, and then the NASCAR social team would go through and post it for him, and it was all cut up. They didn’t show like the whole walk up to the Stratosphere. They just showed, “We’re at the bottom, now we’re at the top.” But it was all the same clip. I need to figure out how to do that. It was pretty cool.

Let’s talk a little bit about how you deal with fans — or people who aren’t your fans — on social media. If you have haters, what’s your general strategy? Are you a blocker? Do you mute people? Ignore it?

I ignore it. I don’t know if I’ve blocked anybody on Twitter. I’ve blocked a ton of people on Snapchat, because those are annoying. Just snapchat after snapchat of random stuff.

Yeah, because people are snapping to their freaking friends list. They’re not just posting to their story, they’re sending it to all their friends. You’re like, “Dude! Stop.”

Yeah, exactly. I’ve gotten like conversations like, “Hey, why don’t you talk to me anymore?” I don’t even know who the hell they are. And it’s like, “Oh, you can’t snap me back?” It could be some 10-year-old little boy or whatever. Just freaking around on the damn Snapchat and I’m like, “Sorry, no idea who you are.” And then he’s like, “Oh, hey, I’m — “ BLOCK! So I block that stuff.

But I haven’t had anything crazy on Snapchat, Instagram. Twitter, you’ll get those ignorant comments every once in awhile, but it’s just funny to go back and look at ‘em, laugh, and then think about posting something back but knowing you’ll probably get a phone call if you do. So I just kind of hold off.

So it’s one of those things where your instinct is to reply right away and then you’re like, “Eh, not worth it.”

Yes, yes. You’re going to get that phone call (from Roush Fenway Racing): “We’ve seen your post, that reply to that guy. We get where you’re coming from, but hold off.” (It’s like) “Yeah, OK, Mom.” (Laughs)

Speaking of Mom, do your parents ever say anything about your social media stuff? Because mine do.

No. My dad is on Twitter and at 7 a.m. you’ll see, “Darrell Sr. liked your tweet” or retweeted something. Every day. But my mom, we would be on Facebook back in high school and she’d say, “You can’t be saying ‘Hell’ or ‘Shit’ or something on there.” And I’m like, “BLOCK!” I unfriended her. So we aren’t even (Facebook) friends to this day. I don’t even think she gets on there anymore.

Even still? You haven’t re-friended her on Facebook?

No. I don’t even get on Facebook anymore. I have a tab on my (Internet) Explorer and I’ll click on it and (it’s like), “OK, I’m done.” I’m not on there like I am Twitter and Instagram.

So it’s mostly Roush or people monitoring your feed who are like, “Hey, we’re trying to save you from yourself,” but it’s annoying. That kind of thing?

Yeah, the Fun Police. But that’s part of it. You’re athletes and whatever you want to call us — we’re put on a pedestal, and we’ve got to watch what we say. We can keep it borderline and play on the fence sometimes, but don’t want to push the limits too hard.

How often are you on Twitter? Do you see all of your replies?

Yeah, after a race, I’ll go all the way back until (I think), “Oh, I’ve seen that tweet before.” I’ll read through, especially after a win, I’ll be scrolling for hours. That was three years ago (since he won), so I haven’t done that win scroll (lately). But even if we have a good race, I’ll go through there and read them. You’ll find that one ignorant comment and keep scrolling. But ask my girlfriend how much I’m on my phone. She hates it. I’ll wake up, grab Twitter — I’m hooked on it.

So the like or the heart on Twitter — do you use it to save something, to show you agree with something or do acknowledge something?

Acknowledge. It’s like, “Eh, I don’t really want to reply, but I liked it.”

“I saw that.”

Yes. (Ryan) Blaney is the king of it. Yesterday we did that thing with Brodie Smith and I’m going to retweet anything Brodie posts out. Ryan’s just like, “Like.” I’m like, “Whatever. I’ll get my name out there more.” (Laughs)

You’re trying to do the whole publicity thing, the other guy is trying to get the mutual publicity and Blaney is like, “Nah, I’ll just like it.”

Yeah, that’s it. (Laughs)

After a race when you’re mad, what’s the biggest challenge you face with handling your own social media?

Really, I hate when people to use their social platforms to vent. I probably have — probably a double standard here — but I can’t remember the last time I have. But people who go on their Facebook and post those long posts. “Oh my God, my day was like this today…” Get out of here with that. I don’t go on there and say, “We ran bad today and it’s kind of horrible and I feel like this.” No.

I’m obviously pissed off, but I’ll put in some good music and then go and find something funny on Twitter to kind of relax the mood. I don’t really have any struggles with social media besides actually really wanting to say what I want to say. I’d like to have an uncensored deal and not get in trouble. That’s the hardest part. But everything else is alright.

Your girlfriend has become a big part of your social media. You’re constantly taking spy shots of her or tricking her or shooting a video when she thinks you’re shooting a picture. How often does she get annoyed with you about that?

She doesn’t get annoyed. She’s a good team player. The only thing is she’s private on Instagram, so you won’t ever see me tag her, just because you get those fan girls out there that will go friend-request her.

She’ll ask me sometimes, “Do you know this person?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve seen them like my post like 20 times.” But I won’t ever tag her. I’ll just say, “This is Amanda.” but then people will get nosy, go through my following (and find her). It’s crazy how they try to get in touch with somebody you tag in a photo.

So what do you think the future is? Everybody thought Twitter might go the way of MySpace eventually, but it seems to be sticking around OK. People say Millennials don’t like it, but at least in NASCAR, it seems to be thriving. Do you feel like that’s going to be something that’s around for years or disappear and make us find something else?

I think it’s going to be around for awhile. Ask Amanda, though: She deleted her Twitter because “It’s a dying social media.” Mine’s still ticking, I’m still getting followers every day. It’s just a fun, quick way to interact with fans and that’s what a a lot of fans are going to. Even the old school fans are starting to get on Twitter and have some fun with it. It’s just fun to keep evolving. Who knows what will be next though on the social world.

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