Social Spotlight with Tiff Daniels

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their social media usage. Up next: Tiff Daniels, media relations representative for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88 team.

You run an account that is giving updates on a driver both before and during the race, and a lot of fans are depending on this account. They’re eager for information. How do you decide what updates to send out and what to leave off?

So with Dale obviously, almost any content, people wanna see, right? The more Dale, the better for our fanbase. However, there are those moments that I certainly wouldn’t want to intrude on with him on the track. So I’m mainly giving them a little bit of an insider perspective, but still (sticking to) things that would be fairly obvious to anyone walking by. It just happens to be that I’m with him at all of these appearances and meet-and-greets that he does.

And then during practice session or the race specifically, I can listen to what he says on the public radio the same way anyone else can and kind of try and give an overview of what may be going on without getting into specific things he says about what the car may be doing.

So if he gives some kind of very specific feedback on, “Feels like we’re loose in, tight in the middle, loose off,” but then goes into more detail specifically about what they might be doing with springs or shocks, I’m not gonna put that out there. But I’ll put the general concept of what he may be dealing with in the car and same goes during the race, just so people following along kind of have an idea of what issues the team might be trying to overcome during practice or the race. And then just general updates on where he’s running and what’s going on — and obviously throw in some pictures into that, too, so they can feel like they’re there.

So essentially it’s stuff that’s publicly available. It sounds like you’re saying if you’re behind the scenes somewhere, it can be construed as a private moment, that’s not something you’re going to throw up on the feed.

Right. So if it’s something that happens inside the hauler and he’s joking around with Greg (Ives) and the team guys, that’s not a picture I’m gonna take and put out there, because they don’t want to have to filter themselves when they’re in a situation that should be considered private. And so you start affecting their communication if you get too involved in showing things behind the scenes that maybe should be kept private, because it’s an interaction between him and someone he’s close to or talking to that he doesn’t want to necessarily push out there.

And with Dale, he pushes out so much himself that if there’s something that he wants to tell you about that he did that’s cool, he’s gonna put it out there anyway. I don’t need to be the one to do that.

If fans of a sports team are tweeting during the game, they’re tagging the team and saying, “This is awesome,” or “This is terrible.” In NASCAR, every car is sort of a sports team and you have a whole nation of fans to answer to. So are you scrolling through the replies during a race and seeing what people are saying, or do you have to shut that off for yourself?

A little bit of both. Sometimes it’s just fun to read the replies, so I’ll scroll through and look. Other times, if there’s a lot going on, I may not have time to look through all the replies anyway. Sometimes I’ll look through them and see if anybody has a question that I can help answer. I don’t usually get involved when somebody says, “Oh, you guys are doing terrible right now,” or, “This is great, we’re so happy.” Those are great; we love to see all the fan reactions, but that wouldn’t necessarily be something that needs a response from me.

But if someone asked during a practice session, “Have you guys switched over to qualifying trim yet?” that would be maybe something I can answer. So every now and then I’ll interact. But for the most part, I kind of feel like now that Dale’s so active, that’s something that he enjoys doing and he’ll pick the questions that he wants to answer and those fans he wants to interact with. And they’d rather that interaction come from him anyway than from me, so I just kind of watch to see what people are saying more for my personal entertainment.

What happens when people get out of hand? Do you just have to ignore it and filter it out and say, “Oh, they’re just venting?” Do you ever use the block button, or is that a big no-no because it might be a fan?

I inherited this Twitter account from the girl who did PR before me, and I know that she had used the block button for a couple people, and it was mainly when people started personally attacking her about something that would have to do with updates — which is kind of crazy anyway, like we’re just the PR reps. What do I have to do with anything?

So I’ve never blocked anyone since I’ve been running it. I will mute people every now and then, especially if I see the same person who’s just using a bunch of cuss words and every post is so ugly that I don’t even want to read it. But I don’t usually block people because I figure my job is to provide the updates — so if people want to see them, they can follow us. If not, they can unfollow.

I often ask people working in the sport how they got to this point in order to give advice to people. I don’t feel like I can do this for you, because you took such an unconventional route. (Daniels is a former Late Model driver who was also an engineer for Chip Ganassi Racing.) It’s not something where you can just be like, “I recommend you start out driving a car, and becoming an engineer, and then going into media relations.” So you’ve touched so many different aspects of the sport.

I will tell you a quick story. So when I first started doing social media in the sport and I’d just switched over to the marketing side, I was working for (marketing agency) GMR on the Lowe’s Racing accounts and I was running the @lowesracing Twitter handle at the track. It was the first time they had sent somebody to the track every week to cover social, so I was around the team a lot more and we were just sending out a lot more updates than what they were used to seeing.

Well, during a race, I sent out some kind of update that was a little too specific, I guess, for Chad (Knaus’s) liking. I think Keith Rodden saw it somehow, and so I got called into Chad’s office the next week — and keep in mind I had not been there in very long. But actually, I get along great with Chad (Tiff’s brother Cliff Daniels is an engineer on the 48 team) and did even then. He was like, “So listen, you maybe understand too much and we’re gonna need you to kind of dilute what you put out there a little bit. These are the kinds of things that we want and we’re OK with, and these are the kinds of things we don’t.” Well, OK, good to know. (Laughs)

That’s pretty funny, because I’m sure there’s a lot of people who come from outside the sport and they have a lot of catching up to do. But here they are telling you, “Hey, dumb it down a little bit. Pretend you don’t know as much as you know.”

Right. And then you get the fans that actually really follow it closely and they want that specific information or they’ll be listening on the radio, because you can tune in from home or anywhere to the radio communications and pick Dale’s channel. They’ll be like, “That’s not exactly what he said — he said this.” I know. I know what he said, that’s just not what I’m allowed to post.

Let’s get into your background a little bit. You obviously started as a driver and you ran some K&N East races. I was looking at some of the tracks you ran, and you even ran Dover, which must be so weird. Everybody else in the media and PR room have only worked in the sport in those roles. But you’re like, “I drove here.” That has to be kind of strange in some ways.

It is a little bit different. I think the only four tracks on the (Cup) circuit I’ve raced are Loudon, Dover, Bristol  and Watkins Glen — which that was crazy.

The first time I came back to those tracks, it was different. Now I would probably have more of the some attitude as any other PR rep, you know: “We’re just here to do our jobs,” and I’m not even thinking about what’s going on out on the track because I’m not plugged into that part of it anymore.

But yeah, it was different at first and then certainly interesting to see after the drivers made a run what comments they would have to say about somewhere. It’s like, “Oh, I know what you’re talking about with that line.”

That’s so funny to me. And it makes me wonder: Do you ever look at the young drivers in the sport (who she raced with) and your competitive juices get flowing? Like do you think, “Maybe I could have beaten you at some point?”

There are definitely times when that can cross your mind. I would say that happens a lot less now than when I first stopped driving and was still coming to the track just working.

But we still like to go out to a go-kart track like GoPro Motorplex and just mix it up. A lot of current drivers will come out there, especially the younger guys. And it would be guys we grew up racing against anyway, and we’ll all have fun and beat and bang with each other. So that’s how I get (the competition urge) out now, and then staying competitive in other ways like triathlon or running. It keeps you kind of from going crazy thinking like, “If this person made it, maybe I could have.”

But I’m so happy where I am now and I feel like this is the right place. So when I look at some of the pressure Dale has on him, for example, when he’s doing stuff, that’s a tough job and not everybody realizes it. So I can certainly appreciate the job those guys do and the work everybody has to put in to get to where they are. Even if people’s parents have money, they still didn’t just end up here without putting in any work. So you’ve gotta kind of appreciate that everybody’s put some effort into it to get here in the first place.

So why was marketing and PR and social media a better fit for you than some of the engineering stuff that you first did when you left driving?

I was actually still driving while I was engineering (at Ganassi) and so maybe that was part of it. I had always been hands-on with my own race cars, and so I felt like from the school part of it, engineering was as close as I could get to that hands-on part and still get an education, and then it would help me with my driving. And it certainly did all those things.

But I was a shop engineer, and when I first started at Ganassi, it was still when NASCAR allowed open testing. So you were gone all the time at the racetrack so it still felt a little more hands-on. And once that went away, it was a big transition to CAD modeling and stimulator work and much more computer-intense, and that really wasn’t the part of it that I enjoyed.

I missed the people, getting out and talking to everybody, and the business side of the sport had always interested me. So just through some of the connections I had met from being in the sport and working in it, it was actually a pretty easy transition over (to marketing and PR), believe it or not.

What’s something that people might not realize when they’re seeing your tweets? What’s something they don’t realize about what goes into your job from afar that you have discovered since you got it?

If it takes us awhile to tweet after something happens (on the track), we have to make sure that what we’re putting out there is exactly right — because I know that’s gonna get picked up by people. So if we think something happened to the car and that’s why we’re coming to pit road, well I need to make 100% sure that after they’ve looked at it, that’s what the answer is before I send something out.

So if it seems like it’s a delay, it’s not because we hate it or we’re distracted and just didn’t feel like giving out updates — we were just making sure what happened.

And if you’re making a trip to the care center, you’re not worried about Twitter. Your primary job is to get to the car and get to the driver, get over to the care center and make sure everything’s good from that standpoint before you even switch back over to Twitter.

I would say I mainly tweet during the weekends, so I think people forget maybe how much work mainly goes into the weekend before we ever get here. Really, once we get to the weekend, that’s the easier part of our job. All of the intense planning happens back at the shop before we ever get here.

That’s so interesting, because there’s an entire job where someone could be a social media manager, but that’s just one element of your job. You’re with Dale everywhere he’s going, and you have to get him from place to place to place for all of these appearances. What percent of your job would you say is social media compared to the whole picture?

I’d say for my job, it’s maybe five percent. It’s not something that I spend any time thinking about. When we’re here on the race weekend, I’ll update, but it’s more of a service that we try to provide to the fans than being important to the actual media relations part of our role, I guess.

And so really, if you think about it, the time that I’ve spent tweeting is so small compared to everything else, and especially the way our accounts are structured, anything that I would really want to push out from a PR standpoint is already being pushed out either by the Team Hendrick account in general or Dale himself or our sponsors. So it’s not like I have to have that platform to be able to get out what we’re doing from a PR sense.

So it really is kind of more of a, “Here’s what’s going on if you’re not here, and here’s an easy way to find what Dale’s doing.” But it’s not so much like the crux of what my job entails.

Social Spotlight with Sherry Pollex

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their social media usage. Up next, Sherry Pollex, the longtime partner of Martin Truex Jr. (Note: This interview was conducted prior to Sherry’s public revelation of a cancer recurrence.)

Let’s start with your Twitter account. Sometimes you’re willing to put yourself out there, get opinionated. You’re really willing to speak your mind. What’s your basic philosophy with how you use your Twitter account?

My Twitter account is my only account that I have that’s public, so it’s my only chance to really give my opinion and be opinionated with the fans or just people in general about how I feel about things, whether I’m talking about my life, my personal life, cancer, racing, whatever. So I kinda use that as my platform.

I know that not everyone probably agrees with me all the time, but that’s OK, they don’t have to. As long as they’re respectful, I don’t block them. I try not to block people unless they’re mean. If they talk — can I cuss?

Sure.

OK, if they talk shit about Martin, I’m gonna block them because I don’t like when people talk shit about him. So I’m really protective of him. If somebody says something bad about him — because he’s like the nicest guy ever — then I have to block them.

You and I have talked a couple times this year about me saying some things that aren’t totally politically correct, so I’m sure I’m not on everyone’s good side all the time. But it’s my opinion, it’s honest — and if people don’t like it, they don’t have to follow me.

From afar, I look at the motorhome lot that we’re in right now and I’m like, “Everyone is so tight-knit.” But you’re saying stuff that at times might make some people mad within the motorhome lot. So do you ever get blowback from that? Does anybody ever come to you and say, “You shouldn’t have tweeted that?”

So that’s not happened to me ever, but I have heard that happening with some of the other wives. I think at times people tend to say things that are a little sensitive to other people’s husbands, and after the race it can get a little ugly on Twitter. I’ve seen some Twitter wars between the other wives. Luckily, I have never been in the middle of one.

I know there’s been some discussions in the motorhome lot after the races. Hopefully they talk it out and let it go. I think that things are just said in the heat of the moment and maybe they weren’t meant to be mean, or they weren’t meant to be rude to that person. So hopefully they talk it out like adults afterwards.

But I’ve actually never had that happen. I have gotten some Twitter wars with people on there that are mean to me, because I think people can be so quick to be judgmental on Twitter because you’re judging somebody by 140 characters or something that they’re saying.

I tell people all the time, “You don’t know me, so don’t judge me.” Don’t judge my situation. Don’t ask me why I’m not married. You know what I mean? There are so many things that are not appropriate for that time. You don’t know my situation, you don’t know my life, so don’t make those assumptions and I won’t make them about you. I think that’s the only time it’s ever really happened to me, with just people following me.

So you feel in some ways that you’re opening up your life, but then you feel like people are thinking they’re entitled to more. Like, “You gave me this one answer, this one insight, so where is the rest of it?”

Yeah. I do think people do that. So a lot of times I’ll start something, but then I don’t finish it because people do that. They keep writing and they want more, and it’s almost like they want me to say something I’m not supposed to say. And I’m not gonna do that, because it’s not the appropriate place to do it.

But I do get the marriage question a lot. I get a lot of people that ask why we’re not married. Well, it’s been 12 years, we’re still not married, we’re probably never gonna get married — so if we’re OK with it, you should be, too. Not everybody wants to be married, let’s just get that clear. So I think it depends. I try to just run that middle line all the time. I try not to make anyone too angry and just try to stay kinda even and cool.

So you’ve talked about the people that deserve the block if they talk shit about Martin. What else deserves a block? Like how does somebody cross the line? Can somebody argue with you but not get blocked?

Yeah. I’m all for a good argument. Ask Martin: I was born to argue. I love arguing with people. But if you’re gonna argue with me, do it politely. Don’t call me names and don’t say anything obnoxious about Martin, because if you do cross that line, I’m gonna probably block you. But I really haven’t had to block that many people.

I’ve had one weird stalker guy on there that was like really, really crossing the line, like talking about my family and hurting me and people in my family. I actually had to get some people involved. It was really creepy. So there is some people that I’ve had to block where I’m like, “Don’t ever come near me. You scare me. You make me feel like I wanna have a bodyguard.” But for the most part, I think everybody’s pretty friendly.

How do you decide who to follow with your Twitter account? How often are you looking at it? Is it something where you’re getting your news from it?

I definitely use Twitter for news. I get on Martin all the time for being on his Twitter, but always he says, “This is where I get my news from. This is where I get all my information.” I tried going on vacation and (staying off it) like, “Don’t go on it for a couple of days,” but I feel like I’m missing out. I haven’t been checking it, and I’m proud of myself for not checking it, but then I feel like I’m missing out on something.

So I think there’s a really fine balance between being on it for informational purposes and to get news and then being on it too much and getting addicted to it, wanting to check it all the time to see what everybody’s doing. I naturally want to know what’s going on in other people’s lives all the time — and I think that’s human nature — but it can also be unhealthy. So I have to control it sometimes, like, “I’m only gonna check Twitter and Instagram once a day. Then I don’t need to be on it again.” It’s really hard to do.

I’ve struggled with that. I’ve pretty much given up, even on vacation, I just can’t stay off it. I think we’re just so tied into it. It’s really a link to the community too, so you know what everybody else is doing, you know what’s going on, and if you miss that, like, “Oh no you didn’t see that? You didn’t know what was going on with me?”

You feel left out, right? You feel like you’re missing out on something. Martin, I give him a hard time because he’s always on his Twitter on the bus, but he never tweets anything. So he’s always on there and I’m like, “Why are you on there if you never tweet anything and you don’t like it?” And he’s like, “I feel like if I’m not on it, I miss out on everything. I don’t know what’s going on. Everybody’s doing something and I need to know about it.” I’m like, “OK, that makes sense, because I do the same thing.” It’s hard to criticize others when I do it, too.

I just figured Martin never looked at it at all. I didn’t know he was sort of a lurker.

He’s like lurking in the background, checking it all the time. And honestly, I probably shouldn’t tell people this, but after the race, he is always checking his replies to see what people are writing to him. I think he likes to see what’s going on during the race and like what people are talking about. So yeah. He’s a lurker. He’s on there a lot. He just doesn’t tweet a lot.

You have Instagram accounts, Facebook, things like that for personal use and you keep it private. Is that just a way for you to have your own space in the social media world?

Yeah. I mean, I kind of struggled in the beginning. My Instagram was open to the public, and then I was like, “Eh, I really need to have something where I can post pictures for friends and family that don’t live here that I want to keep in touch with where they can just see it, and not everybody can see it.” So that’s why I keep my Instagram private.

I’m not a big Facebook person. I have an account, but I just use it for my business (Lavendar Boutique), so I’m never really on there. So I just do Twitter and Instagram. And I’m really addicted to Instagram — I’m on there all the time. I’m always putting stuff on my story and I like to share with my friends and family, but I need my own space to keep part of my life private. So that’s why I do that.

Where do the Sherry Strong accounts come into play (for her cancer prevention website SherryStrong.org)? Do you post a lot on those yourself? Are you looking at replies to those accounts as well?

Yeah, so the @SherryStrongOC pages — we have a Facebook, an Instagram, and a Twitter, and I post on all of them. My sister, Jill, does too because she runs that account. So we both kind of tag team it. Like if I’m like juicing it or doing something cool in the morning that I want them to see that has to do with my health, then I film it. And then we do a lot of articles.

It’s not even just for cancer patients, it’s just for people in general on how to keep their bodies healthy and how to be well and how to use cancer prevention — not just if you have cancer, how to control it. So I love doing all of that. That’s a really cool outlet for me to share with the fans and how I live my life every day. I really enjoy that. So I kinda do both.

I switch around. I help Martin with his accounts sometimes, too, so I do Martin sometimes, I do mine and I do the Sherry Strong. So I have a lot of different accounts that I switch around back and forth between.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from those Sherry Strong accounts? For instance, you were talking about deodorant at one point — like how a lot of the deodorants are toxic — and my wife Sarah switched over to a healthier deodorant after seeing your post about it. So you must get a good response when you’re educating a lot of people that don’t know about this stuff.

Yeah. So I posted the deodorant thing on my personal Twitter after we put out the Sherry Strong site, and it went crazy. People went nuts over it. So I got a lot of questions about that. I mean, that’s great; I’m glad to hear that Sarah switched her deodorant, ’cause that’s good.

There’s a lot of things I learned when I got cancer about toxins on my body or in our house and around the things that we use everyday, and it was eye-opening for me. I wanted to be able to share that with people, so I try to share the important things on my personal Twitter, too, so that people who don’t follow the Sherry Strong sites can see it.

But I try not to bombard people that follow me on my personal Twitter. I know that they don’t want to hear about deodorant everyday — and I don’t write about deodorant everyday — but it is important that people know about the toxins in their body and their environment, so we do a lot of that.

And I enjoy sharing that information because it’s a lot of work to get all that and figure out what that means and what that means in your household and for you body, so we try to decipher all that for all the fans and do it for them.

What are some of your favorite accounts to follow that makes being on Twitter fun for you?

Oh geez, I have a lot of favorites. So I follow a lot of the drivers, of course. I really enjoy following Dale Jr. because he’s really funny. I’ve known Dale for a long time — Martin and him have been friends for a long time — and I know he’s really witty and funny, but he’s really funny on Twitter. Like you see his true personality come out. He’s probably my favorite person to follow.

Then I follow a couple celebrities. I follow Ashton Kutcher and random people, just celebrities that I like in movies and stuff. And then I follow some health-related stuff that I like. You put me on the spot — I can’t think of any others off the top of my head besides I really like to follow Dale Jr.

Do ever have to mute anybody?

No, how do you mute people? What are you talking about?

So if you mute somebody on Twitter, you still follow them, basically, but you no longer see their tweets so they don’t know that you don’t see their tweets. They’re just out of your timeline so you don’t have to deal with them anymore.

I didn’t know you could do that. So now you gave me this new trick that I’m gonna have to do. There might be a couple people I’m gonna have to do that to. I don’t feel like I follow that many people, but I probably do. I haven’t even looked to see how many people I follow (769). But there might be some people who I need to pull that card with now. I don’t know. You just gave me a new trick up my sleeve.

You may no longer see my tweets after this. So are you into Snapchat at all? Have you ever considered looking at Snapchat?

I’m not on Snapchat. Well, I take that back. I do have Snapchat on my phone, I did create an account, but I just never use it. I use it to take the funny pictures with the filters. So I do all the funny faces then I save the pictures and send it to people, but I don’t use Snapchat.

I took over the NASCAR Snapchat one day, and that was fun. Martin and I had some fun with that. But as far as opening it up to the public and using it, I think I just have so many other things that I wanna do with my time, it gets overwhelming.

I’m already doing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all that, so I don’t need to have one more thing with my time. I wanna spend time with my friends and family and be present in the moment, so I kinda have to pick and choose.

How much during a race are you looking at Twitter? Obviously you’re watching what’s going on on TV. Do you listen to the radio for Martin? How much information do you pull from Twitter as the race is actually going on?

I definitely listen to Martin’s radio, and then I’m always on Twitter during the race. So whether I’m writing anything or not, I use it for information. I read what the other wives are saying about their husbands’ cars, I read what the teams are saying about their cars, I read about what’s going on when a caution comes out, I read about what the media says. I read everything on Twitter during the race. I think it’s just a good place to get information and it kinda keeps me engaged and I can hear things that are going on with our team outside of Martin’s radio. So it’s super useful during the race, for sure.

Any final thoughts on where you think social media is going? It’s obviously come a long way in our lifetime — in the last few years really. It’s sort of crazy how it’s just suddenly there and everybody’s using it all the time. Where is it going next?

I don’t know. That’s a good question. Social media has blown up. I remember when Twitter first came out and we got on it and everyone was like, “This isn’t gonna be big. No one’s gonna do it.” And it’s huge. So I can’t even imagine where it’s gonna go now with all the video technology. Now you can do surveys and all that stuff. I can’t even imagine in five to 10 years from now where it’s gonna be.

My hope for the youth of America is that they’re not so engaged on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that they forget to look up and enjoy their lives and live in the moment. I know we’re all kind of guilty of that, and I’d hate to see that with the younger generations.

I think it’s cool that they have all these different avenues and ways they can connect with other people — I just hope they don’t miss out on their lives, too.

Social Spotlight with Brett Griffin

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community about their social media usage. Up next: Brett Griffin, spotter for Clint Bowyer and Elliott Sadler and co-host of the Door Bumper Clear podcast on Dirty Mo Radio. (NOTE: Contains explicit language.)

You’ve built a large following over the years on Twitter. Why do you think you’ve become such a personality on there? What is the secret to you developing a following?

Our attraction as spotters is the drivers we work, for first of all. Otherwise people aren’t gonna know ultimately who we are.

But I think the things people are attracted to the most about me are I’m very unfiltered and my candidness back to people when I reply or even my initial tweets. I’m a pretty opinionated guy. Anybody who knows me — Elliott and Clint — probably know me the best of anybody in the sport, they know I’m a shit-talker. In my Twitter game, I’m also a shit-talker. I stay in character pretty much on there most of the time, I kind of play the whole spotter game, I don’t really go into a lot of my personal life. I do that more with my Facebook stuff.

But Twitter is a lot of fun. I’ve always looked at it as fans have the opportunity to get insight into high-profile people’s lives. And by no means am I a high-profile person, but I have some insight into these other high-profile worlds that exist. I’ve got a lot of friends in country music and I’ve got a lot of friends who I’ve met through football or college football, and obviously I’ve got a lot of friends in NASCAR. So I always look at it as it’s a right to get on Twitter, but it’s a privilege to get to follow somebody because they can at any moment or time say, “You’re going away.”

I have to earn the right for you to follow me. When you click follow, it’s because something made you interested in what I’m doing. But for you to stay here, obviously, I have to earn that right to keep you, if you will.

So you touched on a few things there: opinions, followers. Let’s start on the opinions. You’re obviously, as you said, unfiltered. Now a lot of people would like to say some of the things that you say, whether it’s about their political views or their opinions on drivers, and for whatever reason they don’t or they’re afraid of the blowback. You certainly have gotten pushback over the years, but you must have a way to navigate it. What is your secret to being able to say what you want and not get in trouble for it?

Again, it’s my personality that’s coming to life on Twitter. I spot the same way that I talk. A lot of people go into character to become a spotter. They go into character when their do their tweets. When you hear me on the radio, that’s me. When you see what I’m tweeting, that’s me. So I’m not gonna hide who I am.

What amazes me about Twitter is people think they can attack people with a lot of followers, and those people are afraid to say anything back to them because they’re afraid they’ll get in trouble. In (a spotter’s) situation, it would be with your boss, which would be the head of marketing or the head of competition or the manufacturer that got upset or the sponsor that got upset. And I never try to cross those lines by any means, but at the same time if you come at me, I’m gonna come back at you. That’s just my personality.

So just because you only have four followers doesn’t mean the fact I have 30,000 followers or whatever that number is, that I can’t say what I think back to you. And that’s the thing: I’d never personally attack anybody. If I call somebody a dumbass, it’s very candidly. It’s not speaking literally, but it’s funny to get some of the personal attacks back, and I laugh.

I enjoy blocking people, but I enjoy more when they block me because that tells me that I really got under their skin.

What is the balance there? Do you typically engage with somebody first before bringing out the block? How do you deal with haters?

Yesterday, there was a tweet that was sent to a media person here, Chris Knight, and it was what I thought was a very inappropriate tweet. Chris Knight actually retweeted that person and he had a comment that he made to that person. I didn’t even look at that person’s profile without blocking. I clicked on him, clicked “block” because if that kind of person who’s gonna personally attack people, when they choose or if they choose to engage with me, they’re gonna do the same with me.

I’m open for anything — I’ll debate anything with you, I’m gonna play with you to an extent — but when you start personally attacking and name-calling and all that, I’m out. Really the only thing that gets you the block button is being completely ignorant.

I saw that same tweet and it was the kind of thing that crosses the line because it was somebody talking about weight. And you can debate, argue political stuff, driver stuff, NASCAR opinions, whatever — but when you cross the line and really get personal with somebody like that, that’s really the dark side of social media.

See, I’m short and I’m chubby and I have a gap between my teeth and I have a bald spot. So I can openly admit all that and laugh at it, so if you do that to me I personally don’t care. But nonetheless, when you personally attack people that I’m friends with on Twitter, I’m gonna block you. If you personally try to insult me, I’m gonna laugh at you and then block you. And then if you block me back, then I really laugh at you. That’s the best part about it.

In my view, I kind of need these followers because if they don’t click, then nobody’s gonna read my stuff. So sometimes I wanted to block people, but I felt like, “I probably can’t because I need those people” and that was hard to ignore. In your view, do you need people to follow you for your position or is it, as you said, a privilege for them to follow you?

In a very indirect manner, you need your Twitter followers to monetize your place in this sport. I actually quit Twitter one time, a long time ago. I was in it for a year or so, built up a lot of followers and quit because I was like, “This is taking up entirely too much of my time, and there’s no real way for me to monetize this.”

Not that I’ve tried to monetize it the second go-around, but I have a podcast that came from this. We’ve had a series that we launched called Spotter Life that we do with some of the Xfinity races around (Sadler sponsor) One Main; they came to me and said, “Hey, we want you to do this.” I’ve been able to do a lot of interviews just like we’re doing here today.

By no means is it making me rich — it’s barely enough money to buy me a six pack of beer every week — but nonetheless there is some value in it for people and for sponsors. Clearly, that’s something that’s came about in the last 18 months.

For me, it’s just always been about fun and engagement. I enjoy the perspective and I’ll say the majority of people that reply to me now agree with what I say, which I think is funny because I know there are a lot of people out there that don’t. But those people that don’t are afraid that I’m gonna retweet and say something smartass to them and hurt their feelings. It was a lot more fun early; now they’re being wimps or something. I need them to come back out of their shells a little bit.

You obviously like to have fun with it. I remember back in the Michael Waltrip Racing days, some people actually tried to go around you to your bosses and get you in trouble. Did anybody ever say anything to you like, “Hey man, you’ve got to back it down?”

(Brad Keselowski spotter) Joey Meier and I both have been in situations where people anonymously emailed our bosses and said, “You need to fire your spotter,” or, “You need to get rid of Brett.” I actually think that’s kinda funny because I get paid to spot. I don’t get paid for what I say or don’t say on Twitter. People get their feelings hurt; that just goes back to how sensitive this whole thing is.

There was this one really funny thing that happened. There was an incident where a police officer lost his life and I stood behind this police officer 100 percent. And this person took my tweet — I don’t know if they were drunk or high or what they were doing when they read this tweet — as I was saying more people need to be against our cops and against our police. For anybody who follows me and knows me, I’m pro-military and pro-police, period. So they sent this long email basically saying, “You need to fire your spotter, he’s anti-cop.”

So when I got the phone call from (former MWR executive) Ty Norris, who was laughing about it, he was like, “I have to address this with you because it got sent to us.” I was like, “Ty, this person’s an idiot. Do you see what I said?” “Yeah, I just have to come to you with this.” I guess (it was) from an HR perspective.

When I got to Stewart-Haas Racing, I don’t know if I can say this or not but I’ll say it anyway, we had to sign a social media policy that basically says I won’t act like an idiot. Well, I don’t think I act like an idiot, I think I act like me. I may get on the line of an idiot, but I think I know where it’s at and I usually try to stop there.

On your podcast, you guys drop all sorts of nuggets about what’s going on in the sport. You’ll say something on the podcast and I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” Are you conscious of the fact you’re sprinkling new information out there?

I don’t think we are. I think we’re literally two guys (Griffin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. spotter T.J. Majors) who are 52 weeks a year entrenched in the sport and we’re just talking about a sport that we love. Obviously, nobody in the sport is professionally closer to Dale Jr. than T.J. Majors is, and nobody is closer to Elliott Sadler than I am. Obviously I’m extremely close to Clint Bowyer, too. We have a lot of circles that we get a lot of information from.

Some of them are news-related, some of them are gossip-related, some of them are just facts about things that have gone on in the tech line that nobody’s really talking about. So we’re just in there BSing for 45 minutes to an hour and I think things just come from that.

Half of the time it’s early Monday morning, and we’ve just gotten in (from the race). This past week, I went to bed at 4 a.m. and here we go doing this podcast at 9 a.m. I was so sleep deprived, I didn’t know what we talked about until I went back and listened to the podcast. It’s always funny to me when you’re leaving and you’re like, “I don’t know if that was a good podcast because I don’t know what we talked about” and then you go back and listen and start getting tweets from people and feedback and it’s like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you guys said this, you did this.”

Last week, I made fun of Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse being best friends, and they wrecked Danica, who is Ricky’s girlfriend, and I was like, “Kyle used his whip around Ricky’s bae.” And people were like, “You’re 42 years old and you’re saying all these young terms! I feel so old.” Man, we just have fun with it.

Do you ever get any pushback in that department? Like do you get the sense that people in the industry listen to the podcast and are like, “Dude, you said this about Larson, you said that he races like a rookie in Sonoma.”

Justin Allgaier actually came up to me in Talladega and he said, “Hey man, I was listening to you podcast and I was in my garage and I got mad because you said I forgot how to drive in the first half of the year.”

And I said, “Justin, you kinda did. You were wrecking a lot.”

“Well they weren’t my fault,” he said.

I said, “You still were wrecking. You’re 30th in points.”

(Allgaier said) “I started slinging shit around and my wife comes out like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ ‘Brett’s made me mad. He’s talking junk about me in the podcast.'”

Again, I’m a very mouthy, candid person, so at no point am I trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. I grew up in a really small town where there were two things that were important: Sports and winning at sports. And we were taught at young ages if you get in a pile on the football field in sixth grade, you reach over and you pinch that guy’s leg as hard as you can pinch it, or you spit in his face, or you try and get in his head. So I just came up in this culture of, “Say what you think, if they don’t like what you think, they won’t like you, it is what it is.”

Kentucky Speedway, I’ve got a friend there who has given me some information about new elevators, those kinds of things, and she kind of freaks out when we put that intel out there in public. But again, it’s not things like, “Whoa, let’s fry this person this week.” We’re just giving you guys insight, perspective. We watch these race cars go around 40 weeks a year, so we have a different perspective than guys that are in your side of the sport, in the media center, in the garage doing interviews. Your thing is intel, my thing is, “What do I see?” Just a different perspective.

We’ve talked about clearly you’re unafraid to go at people back and forth. You’ve even gone at Dale Jr. a couple of times this year. It seems like nobody really goes at Dale Jr. I think you’ve said his podcast isn’t as interesting as yours, and at one point he fired back. Any behind-the-scenes feedback on that?

I’ve known Dale Jr. since 1999. I was down here and I was sitting on Elliott Sadler’s bus and Dale Jr. walked in, he was a full time Busch Series driver back then and he was doing a phenomenal job making his name in the sport.

He comes in and he’s dressed all goofy and he’s like, “Do you guys wanna go to the Y and shoot basketball?” I’m looking at this guy thinking, “There is no way this guy who looks like he just walked out of the movie Powder will be able to go shoot basketball at the Y.” So that’s the first time I met him, a very long time ago.

The best vacation I’ve even been on in my life, he brought me to Daytona Beach in 2001 in July. We stayed in a house, nine of us, for 10 days. We had an absolute blast. So once again Dale Jr. knows me, he knows how I am. That’s why they came to me about this podcast, was the personality I am on Twitter, the personality I am in real life. So we go back and forth at it.

Sure, we mean what we’re saying, but we also mean it in a very joking manner. Nobody’s gonna get mad. Last week, I guess they played something on (FS1’s) Radioactive — which I don’t listen to, by the way, during the week. But they played something on Radioactive where I guess I said, “You should have wrecked that motherfucker.” And Dale Jr. tweeted that out last week when we were in Sonoma going, “Brett gets all mad on the radio, just tells Elliott to wreck everybody.” So I tweeted back, “Dick move by my boss,” or whatever I said.

So again, that’s all in good fun. It’s certainly not being buttholes with each other. But (that’s) insight the fans aren’t gonna necessarily get see if we aren’t going back and forth. This public display of Twitter is phenomenal. If you’re a sports fan and you’re not on Twitter, you’re an idiot.

It is pretty crazy how we always hear that only 25 percent of adults use Twitter. But in NASCAR, you feel like it’s less.

I feel like it’s single digits. Our fan is an older fan. I’m very fortunate — my mom is in her 70s and she absolutely loves Twitter, loves Facebook — but it’s probably mainly because of me and my jobs. So I definitely feel like our demographic isn’t on Twitter, and I don’t know what we can do to gravitate them this way, but here’s what tells me that: When I look at wrestlers that I’ve never heard of and they have more followers than Dale Jr., I know that our fans aren’t on Twitter like they are on other social platforms. So if you’re listening, get on Twitter.

You mentioned Facebook. Is your Facebook account private for your family and friends?

It is. My Facebook is totally private, I have to accept you to come on. It’s more about my personal life than it is (about) my job. And one thing that I’ve learned from Shaun Hill, who was a quarterback in the NFL for a long time, played for the Detroit Lions, he and I were at Lake of the Ozarks together, and he told me, “Hey man, don’t let your job define who you are, because when your job goes away, you’ll be heartbroken. You won’t know how to come back from that, how to manage all the personal aspects of it.”

So I’ve really taken that advice to heart from a guy who was a professional athlete, because he told me horror stories about NFL guys that worked their entire life in the league, and when the league went away after eight to 10 years, they literally didn’t know what to do.

So I’ve always tried to keep it somewhat separate. That’s why I don’t really listen to what goes on during the week in motorsports news, because I’ve already lived this life. If I’m not hearing about it during the three days that I’m here, I’m not seeing it, I’m not learning from it or it’s not on Twitter, then I’m not meant to do it.

I think we’re oversaturated with some of the news things that we do. When I grew up, all we had was Benny Parsons on Monday night to kind of get recap and then John Kernan on RPM 2Night. Now we have all these different outlets to which fans can consume our media, which is great in the sense of, “If you want it, it’s out there.” But for me, I just choose to live in this little world from Thursday night to Sunday night and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I try to worry about other stuff.

Are you on any other forms of social media where people can follow you aside from Twitter? Do you have a public Instagram, do you do any Snapchat stuff?

I lost my Instagram password. I don’t know how to get that back. Snapchat, I still haven’t figured out. I do it a little bit, sometimes I’ll do funny stuff and I don’t even know who gets it, if everybody gets it or if one person gets it. I need somebody to come give me a really good tutoring session on Snapchat, but it’s cool.

Social Spotlight with Jackson Martin of Roush Fenway Racing

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their social media usage. Up this week: Jackson Martin, the Social Media and Digital Marketing Manager for Roush Fenway Racing.

Is it just you or is there a team of people you are a part of with the Roush Fenway social accounts?

We’ve got a couple different people who touch the accounts. It’s primarily me, but also my boss Kevin Woods, who is the Vice President of Communications at Roush Fenway. He’ll do a lot of on-track stuff too.

We’ve gotten a lot better this year about trading off weekends so you can get a little time at home, a little time away. We also have another woman, Amanda Efaw, who pitches in sometimes, too. So I’d say it’s mostly me, but there’s a lot of voices touching the accounts, too.

For some reason, I picture the Roush account as you guys coming up with really fun stuff together, like bouncing stuff of each other and then sharing it out. I just picture it as sort of this fun, collaborative effort because the stuff you come up with is very unique, very creative — and clearly some thought goes into it.

For the most part, yeah. Sometimes it’s a little off the cuff and we can get ourselves into trouble when we do that. But as a whole, the marketing arm of Roush Fenway has done this really cool thing the last couple of years where particularly when performance was not great, not where we wanted it to be, the marketing team basically took the concept of, “We want to also be the marketing agency for our sponsors.”

So most of the time you come in, you pay however much you do to be the paint scheme for the week and that’s what you get. You can make of it what you will, you can pay someone else to do that. And they said, “No, we need to offer something else to our sponsors.” So we really try to be that marketing team for you, and that’s already included in what you’re paying us and we try to make the most out of our sponsorship. So it’s not just on you: We look at what your goals are, but also we try and help you in how we know with the best practices.

And so sort of born out of that, we do do a couple of things a lot like a marketing agency might be and a lot of that involves us sitting around a room together, kicking around ideas. We draw up a whiteboard for every single week of just ideas, things that we can do, things that we can have fun with, wins that we have. Because I think outside of like two (tracks), we have wins at every single track on the NASCAR circuit in Xfinity and Cup.

So really it is. It’s such a collaborative effort between not just us, but also the communication managers, the PR people who are doing stuff for each individual team. In doing that, I think that’s how we get the most creativity, just sitting around kicking ideas back and forth.

It seems like your general philosophy is to have fun with the accounts. What messages are you trying to convey in general and how do you balance that with the competitive side of racing?

I think that’s interesting. They hired me as someone who really had no experience in NASCAR, and Kevin Woods has told me that part of that was getting some fresh eyes on the sport. I definitely brought that — I had no idea what I was doing. And so it just became let’s have fun, let’s give people a reason to follow us. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of Roush Fenway, we want you to enjoy what we’re doing.

Some of that got born out of what I did when I was at Vanderbilt University. I was the sports editor for the Vanderbilt Hustler newspaper, and our football team was awful. Just so bad. They were 2-10 my freshman year. (The paper) made the mistake of giving me the Twitter account. And so we just go and have fun at games, you know. Maybe we were losing to Alabama by 40 points, but I was going to tell you what the band was playing, what the music was in the stadium — we’re gonna have some fun with what was going on.

And think that sort of fed into my philosophy here, which is that if you’re following us, you’re probably following Jeff Gluck, you’re following Jim Utter, you’re following the other media accounts. You have a pretty good general idea of what’s going on in the race, even if you’re just keeping up with Twitter.

So we need to be different; we need to give people a reason to follow us, a reason to enjoy what we’re doing — and fortunately the leadership at Roush Fenway bought into that. They give us a lot of creative freedom and hopefully I don’t abuse it too much, but it’s worked out great so far.

How do you know where the line is and do you ever cross the line and have to backtrack a little bit?

I’d like to think I have a lot of common sense. We haven’t pushed over the line very often, though there is one specific incident that I remember where I got in trouble with NASCAR corporate.

Two years ago in Michigan in August, they were running the high drag rules package and so they had to seal off the windows of the car in order to get the best aerodynamic advantage. Everyone was talking about it the whole weekend and it was blazingly hot, like 95 (degrees). NBC was running a thermostat in someone’s cockpit that showed that it was 165 degrees in the cockpit of the car.

I was actually at home that weekend — I was doing it from my couch — and I thought that was funny. So I found a picture of the FDA safe cooking temperatures chart. A chicken needs to be cooked to 155 degrees internally. I tweeted that out and said, “By some measures, our drivers are safe to eat right now.” And NASCAR got really upset about that and they wanted us to take it down. Kevin Woods was at the track and said, “We won’t do it again, but it’s got a lot of retweets. Can we just leave it up so it can show up on our social report?” “OK fine, but no more. Don’t talk about the heat anymore.”

That’s a great story. Speaking of fun, one thing especially about your Twitter account is you guys have really creative avatars, and you’re always coming up with the Jack Roush silhouette and doing something different with him. How do those get started? Do you give it to an artist? Who does that stuff?

So the Jack social logo that people have come to recognize was actually made by the guy who had my job before me, Yasin Id-Deen. He’s at the University of Michigan now. He’s a great guy who really, I think, set the table for me in so many ways. It was a fun logo and unlike a lot of corporate logos, you don’t take it too seriously because the social media guy made it.

I think the first one we ever did with that was when we were going to Texas, just sort of noticed, “Hey the Texas silhouette’s really recognizable, let’s stick the Jack head in it and try something new.” And we did, and it got this huge cool response. We didn’t do it for a couple of weeks and then we went to Talladega and Kevin Woods, my boss, is from Oxford, Alabama, so he made one with the Alabama outline. It sort of took off from there and then it became an every week thing.

So it’s either me or Kevin just playing around on Photoshop, finding something fun to do with it. It’s fun with weekends like (last weekend) when it’s a split weekend so we’ve got an ear of corn with the Jack logo for Iowa and then we’ve got the Sonoma road course outline. So you can do fun stuff. You can do state outlines, state flags — the Arizona flag looks great with the Jack logo in it. Or you can do the recognizable, like when we go to New Hampshire, we’ve got the lobster that we can stick it in.

And it’s just sort of a what else can we do creative to connect with these markets that we go to, because we go to 30 different places a year or however many different tracks it is. Let’s try and do something unique for all of them. We’re here all weekend, I’ve got my computer open, it’s a fun way to kill some time sometimes, trying to figure out what you can stick that logo in.

Any idea what Jack thinks of the logo or has he ever commented on it to you guys?

Normally all of our trackside apparel has the normal Roush Fenway logo, but I’ve started getting some stuff ordered with the social logo. I’m wearing a vest right now with it. Jack started laughing the first time he saw it. He said, “That’s pretty good.” So I think he likes it. I don’t know if he’s seen all of the different variations of it, but he definitely likes the original logo.

So you referred to Photoshop and it seems like you guys do tons of stuff whether it’s gifs or Photoshops. What is in your arsenal of tools as the social guy? If somebody wanted to get started on it, what things would they need to learn to get into a position like yours?

I think every team handles that a different way, and I think every person who’s in charge of these accounts handles it a different way. For me, I have always just liked to do as much stuff as I can possibly learn. When I was in high school, I worked on the newspaper, I did the radio show, I did a TV show — I just wanted to do everything. I wanted to learn how to do everything. I kept doing that in college and even here it’s just, “Do we need graphics? Sure, I’ll Photoshop it.” Do I not know how to do a specific thing? I’ll look it up. And so you do Adobe Premiere for video editing, you know, different stuff.

I think the best skill set you could have in this role, because it changes so much, is just the willingness to learn. Because all of this stuff, there’s a million different tutorials online, you can figure out how to do anything you wanna do if you’re willing to put in a little bit of work and a little bit of focus into it. So I think that’s the best thing you can have: Be willing to learn, willing to be flexible, be ready for some people who maybe don’t know how to do what you’re doing to want changes to it. Don’t take offense to that, but learn how to be able to do all of that stuff.

We focused a lot on Twitter, but you guys are active on a variety of platforms, if not all of the platforms that I can think of. How do you balance your time, your priorities, in figuring out what matters the most and where you need to pay attention to?

Like you said, every platform is so different, you have to treat them all differently; you can’t just go in with the same approach and just post the same thing on Facebook as on Twitter as on Instagram, but maybe you have to shorten the caption for Twitter. You just can’t do that.

We derive a lot of the value we get to sponsors. We actually have a social agency, Wasserman Media Group, who works with a lot of professional athletes, professional teams. They sort through all of our social and actually give us an evaluation on what we give back to the sponsors in terms of our posts. That ends up being a couple million dollars a year for a lot of them. Really, this stuff is valuable to them.

A lot of that value comes from Facebook. So for us, Facebook is a much more rigid process than the other ones. Like I said earlier, we do a whiteboard every week. A lot of that is lining up what’s gonna go what day on Facebook. Like this week, we have a bunch of Iowa and Sonoma wins, so it’s, “OK, what day is gonna be the best to post that video of Ricky Stenhouse when he wins at Iowa and Carl Edwards crashes into the back of him?” Because we know that’s our big video this week, that’s one people love to see because of the crazy finish. So that one might be a Thursday night for a Throwback Thursday or something like that.

You sort of flex it in within in but we’re trying to post two to four, two to five times a day on Facebook. But we have a lot of content, and trying to shoehorn in when everything fits where, that takes up a lot of brain space, a lot of planning just to get that right.

So we sort of follow the same type of structure on Twitter of doing Throwback Thursday, Winning Wednesday, but when you get to the track, a lot of your time is going to get eaten up by being at the track and that stuff. But you get to be a little more flexible.

A lot of times, I’ll think of a fun idea, Photoshop it or clip it out on Adobe Premiere, and it’ll just sort of go up whenever I get it done. You can also post stuff multiple times on Twitter. But so you get to have a lot more flexibility there, and I think that’s why we have so much fun with it, because you can throw something out and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t hurt you.

Whereas on Facebook, if you have a bad post, that hurts where you fit it in the algorithm for the next couple of days. You really have to have a really high quality filter on Facebook and Instagram.

Can you really tell when you look at your Facebook numbers and say, “We had a bad post and that really hurt us?” Can you see it in the numbers?

Absolutely. And I think you can tell when you don’t mix up your content enough. This is sort of more an anecdotal thing than an actual, but you can tell when you post like six videos in a row, you sort of start to have diminishing returns. And some of that is people aren’t as interested, but some of it is also you posted six videos in a row. So finding a way to mix that up, have a good mix of content of photos, videos, web links, entertaining stuff, serious stuff, I think that helps you a lot on Facebook to diversify what it is you’re doing.

You have a lot of fun with you replies and I can tell you take some joy in the interaction you have with other accounts. Is there any limit, like, “Make sure you don’t reply to this driver, he’s not on our team” or replying to another team? Or do you pretty much have free reign to interact with anybody in the sport?

I have pretty free reign. I sort of know what my limits are. Like I know that Hendrick takes their account very seriously: It’s very straightforward, very professional. They are not going to reply to us. They can’t. And I respect that because that’s what their style guide is: Very straightforward, very AP style, and I think there’s a lot of value to that.

That’s obviously not how we handle our account, but you know a little bit of the drivers who are willing to have a little more fun, the other accounts that have a little more fun. I miss Jeff O’Keefe, he used to run the (Richard Childress Racing) account. He’s now with Toyota Racing. We used to have a lot of fun with him, especially two years ago when both our teams were really struggling and we’d get into a trash talk war over a 15th place pass. We’d have so much fun with stuff like that. You can get into it with JGR — Boris has a lot of fun.

I tend to be a little more conservative with drivers, especially. But sometimes one of them comes along and jumps into our mentions with something fun. I think my favorite example of that was Landon Cassill. We’d do mid-race giveaways, like, “Retweet this to win this Greg Biffle hat.” Landon had like wrecked on Lap 5 or 6. He was out of the race for some reason, but it was a race that he had started in. He retweeted it, so we started to be goofy like, “Congratulations Landon Cassill, you won the Greg Biffle hat,” and then he turned around and say, “OK, if anyone can prove that they’re both a Landon Cassill and a Greg Biffle fan, I’ll donate my hat to you.”

So you have some fun, and we’ve done a lot with Landon. Landon’s a really good sport with some of the stuff that we’ve done. And it’s great because he’s another Ford driver, he’s with Front Row who we have that alliance with. So you feel a little more comfortable making those jokes with him, because he’s on the team, really.

But there are other guys who will have a lot of fun, too, particularly some of the lower series guys I think who might not have had their professional media training just yet. They’re willing to have a lot of fun with us.

Let’s talk about how you got into it. You mentioned you were at Vanderbilt and you didn’t have a background in the sport. People are always asking about how to get into the sport. How did you get into it?

I applied for this job on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn!

I was about a year out of school. I was still living in Nashville. I was working for a small digital marketing company in Nashville, and I wanted to do something else. I’d gone to school to be a sports writer. I had a sports writing scholarship at Vanderbilt, and I wanted to skip that step where they pay you $15,000 a year to cover high school football. Obviously I never figured out how to do that.

So I was working for a marketing company and just started firing off different applications to places. It did crack me up, actually — the day I applied to Roush I had also applied to a job at WWE, and I came back and told my roommate and his girlfriend, and my roommate’s girlfriend — she’s from New Jersey, just wanted to clarify that first — she looks at me and goes, “I thought you wanted to work in real sports.” It’s like, “Oh, Cristina…”

But yeah, I applied to this job on LinkedIn, heard back a month later, did a phone interview on the Thursday of the Phoenix race week, then was asked to come in for an interview, drove down to Atlanta where I’m from and where my parents live and drove up to Charlotte the next Tuesday. I interviewed, then the Thursday after that I got offered the job and I started for spring Bristol two years ago.

So within a month, I went from applying to being the new social guy at Roush. It was incredible. I was so fortunate. It’s not necessarily a strategy I would recommend to everyone, it doesn’t always pan out, but I got super lucky. I have the best job in the world. It’s so much fun.

What else would you tell people about your job, because everyone sees the end results of your job, right? But they don’t really get to see everything that goes into it. What else is something that people don’t really understand about all that goes into the social media world from a team perspective?

That’s something that my boss laughed about too when I applied for the job on LinkedIn, they probably got 200 or 300 other applications and a lot of it was probably, “I’ve got a Facebook account, I know what to do.” And you do get a lot of that too. I don’t think people realize that it is a job. There’s a ton of planning that goes into it. You can’t just show up and just, “Oh what are we going to do today? Same thing we do every night, Pinky — try and take over the world.”

Yeah, you don’t just show up at the track: you work in the office five days a week too, 8 to 5. And there’s a ton of planning that goes in but there’s you’re also talking with sponsors, you’re talking with the drivers, you’re trying to balance the interests of everyone who’s putting their time, effort, their money into this team, into this program. I would say a lot of working with sponsors, not just to accommodate what they think they want but to also help them see how we can best deliver these results to you.

I think because a lot of people have their own personal social media accounts, that’s what they think about it: “Oh yeah, I can post four times a day. That’s not a problem.” Well social media’s also rooted in traditional marketing strategy, and I think you really do have to have a grasp of what the things are that work in marketing to understand what works on social, too. Because obviously the landscape has changed a ton, but the more things change, the more things stay the same.

I think having that grounding in marketing pays incredible dividends in this job. Being able to be creative is a nice bonus to it, but in order to meet the needs of these sponsors who are paying millions of dollars to have their name associated with your team, to be able to be the public face of this team and especially to be working under such a legendary owner like Jack who’s won 324 races in NASCAR — he’s been winning NASCAR races since before I was born — that’s a big role to step into. And it’s one that you have to appreciate the levity of, I think, if you’re going to do a good job.

I’m curious, as somebody who didn’t grow up in the sport and now are in it and part of a team, what was that experience like for you at Talladega? You were going to victory lane and being part of the celebration, but obviously still balancing having to do your job in a very high-pressure moment.

Man, that was so cool. Like I said, I’ve been with the team two years, so that was the first Cup win that we’ve had since I’ve been there, and we had won two Xfinity races before: Chris Buescher at Iowa and Chris Buescher at Dover in 2015. And of course we had the Xfinity championship. Thank God at least I know a little about how victory lane worked because otherwise, man, that’s a lot that you have to get done right away.

Especially at a plate track like that, and you have a close finish like that, there’s a lot going through your head. Your heart’s beating out of your chest at a place like that. I had stopped chewing my fingernails. It’s something that I’ve struggled with my whole life. And now I’d gone two months totally clean, and that race I chewed them all down to the nubs.

But a lot of that planning that you put in, we have an entire win plan written out, like half a book worth of stuff that we’re going to do from a PR side, from a social side, from a sponsor relations side. When we win a race, we have a plan for what’s going to happen.

Like any good plan, about 20 to 30 percent of it is not going to happen at all, so you’re running around trying to balance (what can get done). I hate to jinx stuff, but you have a tweet written out for when they cross the line, which in our case was just #ParkedIt because of Ricky’s best friend Bryan Clauson and how much that meant to him.

So I hit send on that and then you’re sprinting out because you’re trying to catch a video of the burnout, or a video of the crew celebrating at the pit box. So you’ve got about 20 different things that you want to get done, so you gotta do that. Then you’ve got to run to Victory Lane where probably your cell phone’s barely going to work and you’re going to drain 80 percent of the battery in 20 minutes anyway because you’re trying to decide, “Do I do a Facebook Live, do I do a Periscope? Well if I’m doing a Facebook Live I can’t tweet too. Kevin, I need to you tweet something. I need someone else to put something on Instagram.” So you’re trying to grab all hands on deck, anyone who has access to the stuff, and do as many things as possible.

So actually, Kevin was doing the Facebook Live there so I could tweet. His phone locked up, like completely locked up, we lost the feed, so we had to grab an account manager — a guy who works with Trevor’s account — we had to grab his phone, log in. So I’m tweeting from my phone, there’s no cell phone reception, so I’m passing him my phone so he can run into the media center and get this stuff out while I take more pictures. Man, it is just such chaos. But it’s fun.

And what you come to realize too is you have this plan for what’s going to work, but it really is just so in the moment. Things change so fast. That’s what you learn too from watching other sports, other accounts.

I take a lot of my cues from NBA teams. I think that NBA does the absolute best job of social media in sports in the whole world. Actually, cricket does a good job too, but I don’t know if people are going to be that interested in listening to me talk about the West Indies cricket team twitter account. But the NBA does such a good job, especially the Atlanta Hawks, the Charlotte Hornets — they have these great, creative people, and so you can see what works for them there and sort of apply it to what you do.

So I think at Talladega, we had such an emotional response on our accounts, such an excited one. It was probably a little over the top, but you sorta take that from watching other teams who do that and you realize, “Wow.” Maybe when you’re trying to sit down at a whiteboard and plan out what you’re going to do, you think of the most professional way to handle it, the most straightforward way. But then you watch some other teams do something and you go, “Sometimes people want emotion.”

Because if you try to put yourself in the seat of the fans of Roush, that’s how they felt. That’s the first time we’ve been in victory lane in three years. That’s what these people have been waiting for. People who are Ricky Stenhouse fans have never seen him in Cup victory lane. You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes because that’s what it’s all about. That’s who you’re marketing yourself to.

Social Spotlight with Brad Keselowski

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to explain how they use social media. This week: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske. The interview is available both in podcast and written form.

I’m here in Brad Keselowski’s hauler, and he’s currently making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which looks quite tasty. He’s got some strawberry jam.

I was in a grape family. Do you know how I rebelled? I switched to strawberry. Everybody rebels in their own ways.

You’ve always been a rebel, going strawberry after everybody else is going grape. But Brad, you were credited with sort of being the head of the Twitter movement in NASCAR thanks to your Daytona picture. But I think it’s sort of evolved for you. How has your Twitter usage has changed in the past few years here?

It’s definitely changed and I think your first comment about the Daytona 500 tweet, that was fun. I got some exposure for NASCAR and for Twitter too, which was great. But I just feel like that was one piece. There’s been like six or seven people, maybe more than that, who have moved it forward. You moved it forward, Jeff. I think Nascarcasm moved it forward. Dale Jr. joined and moved it forward. Kevin Harvick to me was the one who was really the first driver to embrace it of stature, so he moved it forward. I think we all had a piece of moving it forward, and I probably get a little more credit than I deserve. That’s probably my first thought.

I really don’t think so, actually. The way you were at that time as well as in addition to the tweet itself kind of opened the floodgates because you were very opinionated. Maybe you’ve gotten a little bit more…

I’m more conservative for sure. Definitely more conservative. I don’t know, it’s probably a part of being married.

But I think what happens, and this has happened for myself as well over the years with writing my opinions, is you get sort of tired of fighting certain battles. After a while you choose to not fight every single battle and let your whole opinion out there, and you just pick the ones that are the most important to you. Is that fair to say?

That’s absolutely fair to say. That’s well-played, Jeff. I couldn’t say it any better. You get to where you pick the battles that are going to be the most impactful and that you can win; you don’t try to fight every battle. I think that’s just part of getting older, not necessarily just social media.

What’s interesting is the people that have really developed social media are aging, and I think it’s changing the platform dramatically.

How is that? You mean the users themselves are changing their habits?

Yeah, I think so. I think probably your core people that really started the social media, and I’m not trying to claim to be one of them, but they’re getting older and I think that changes how the platform works.

And I don’t know how you are — we talked about rebelling with strawberry jelly — but young kids don’t want to be a part of what their parents did because that becomes uncool. So I’m curious where social media goes in that light.

I feel like a lot of people choose the platform they like and end up sticking with it and aren’t really eager to change. Some people will try the newer platforms that come out, but people will mostly just stick with what’s comfortable for them — whether it’s the most popular or not. I know over the years, you had started originally with a Facebook account and then you sort of went away from that?

I got mad at them.

That’s right, you got mad at Facebook.

They deleted my account because somebody turned me in as fake and I had a Facebook account for probably four years before that. I had all this really cool stuff and they just deleted it all. It just pissed me off.

I forgot about that. So now you’re on Twitter, obviously, and you’re on Instagram but it’s a private account. Is that correct?

Yeah, private. That’s per (wife) Paige’s request.

That’s where you can sort of have your own life without being in the public eye, so to speak.

Yeah, well sometimes I want to take a picture, and it ain’t gonna be the best picture or it’s gonna be a picture that’s relevant to me and not to my fans, but it’s relevant to my family. And that’s OK. I feel like I needed at least one social media play that was personal and for my family. So if I want to share 15 pictures of my daughter or a picture of a sunset or I wanna be somewhere and I don’t want people to know I’m there, that’s my platform to do it.

That’s interesting, because you’re using it sort of like Facebook, but you hate Facebook. So you’re using Instagram like Facebook.

I don’t necessarily hate Facebook. Hey, part of getting older is forgiveness. I’ve forgiven Facebook; that’s the easiest way for me to put it. I was frustrated at a younger age. Now I’ve moved on and I really like the Facebook Live feature.

That’s true, I forgot about that. And that’s something I wanted to ask you about in this interview as well, so let’s get into that because starting this year, I believe at Daytona, you started going around to some of the campgrounds at times and going on Facebook Live —

I’m pretty sure I did it somewhere last year. Watkins Glen. Yup, I did it at Watkins Glen last year. There are certain weekends where I don’t bring my daughter and there could be a number of reasons between where we’re at. I don’t travel my daughter past the Mississippi (River) — that’s a good rule of thumb because that’s too much for her and I don’t want her to deal with all that.

And Watkins Glen, I can’t remember why we didn’t bring her because that’s not past the Mississippi, but we didn’t bring her there. So Paige and I were on the bus, we just had our dinner and we got back and it was 9 o’clock and it was a beautiful night. I’ve always really liked the campgrounds at Watkins Glen and she had never seen them so I was like, “Hey, let’s go through the campgrounds.”

But what are we going to do when we go through the campgrounds — somebody’s always gonna spot you, right? (I said) “I don’t know, let’s give something away, I guess.” And somebody had been telling me about Facebook Live and said it’s a lot of fun, so it was like, “Well, I’ve wanted to do this Facebook Live, I’ve got a bunch of beer, a bunch of stuff to give away. Let’s see what happens.” So we did it. We had fun, the people were really cool, they were engaging, and that was just a good time.

So Daytona ended up being the same way: my daughter didn’t come because I just got married the week before and she stayed with Paige’s parents, so it was just us two. It turned into the same scenario and we had a lot of fun. Like, “Maybe we’ve got something here that’s kind of ours,” you know?

I think on social media, everybody looks for something that’s theirs. You know, Jimmie (Johnson) does the hat giveaway and everybody does something that’s theirs, and I really like the Facebook Live campgrounds because it was something that was mine and I could do that to honor our fans.

I’ve watched a lot of these, and some people are very happy and overjoyed that you come. Some people play it way too chill. I don’t understand why they would be so chill about a NASCAR driver coming with gifts to their campgrounds! They should be going crazy and they’re like, “Oh yeah, hey. Cool. It’s nice to see you.”

You know alcohol affects people in different ways, and a lot of these I go to –everybody knows a quiet drunk. Everybody knows a loud drunk. And usually we find people after they’ve been drinking, so that’s my explanation. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not. I’m not a doctor.

Obviously, Facebook Live stays on your Facebook page; it’s not like Instagram Live Stories, which go away right away. So that’s something that people can go back and check it out as well.

I do like that feature about Facebook, how it stays up there and you can do the “in case you missed it,” which I think is very helpful because you’re right, you don’t want it to disappear. And those people, that story lives on with them forever, right? Which is great, that’s one of the things I love about it so much.

I’ve already had fans come up to me and say, “Hey man, you came up to my campground in Daytona. We’re here in Dover and that was really cool and I just wanted to say hi again.” It’s really endearing to me and it’s fun. It really is.

One platform that I don’t think you’re on, as far as I know, is Snapchat. Why are you not high on Snapchat?

Mmm (pausing to chew sandwich).

I’ll let you finish your food. By the way, this looks like a fantastic sandwich that you’ve made here, and you’ve also gone with a selection of milk. So you got the wholesome peanut butter and jelly with the strawberry, the chunky peanut butter and the milk.

Chunky peanut butter is important because I think it has more protein. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I made it up on the spot because it says, “More protein” (on the label).

So why not Snapchat? That’s the question. I’ve never really taken to it. First off, you don’t know who’s watching. I don’t like that. I like to know who watches my stuff, I like to get number reports, I like the data. Second, I don’t like how it disappears. For the same reasons why I like Facebook Live, I like how I can post a story and it lives on forever. For Snapchat, it lives on for what, a day?

Yeah, 24 hours.

I don’t like that. Instagram Stories, Paige does that with my daughter. I like for my daughter that it lives 24 hours, but then even then I’ll look back like, “Ugh, where did that video go of her doing this or that?” She’s like, “Well, I have it on my phone saved.” Of course Snapchat videos don’t save to your phone at least. I don’t know if they do it, how to do it.

You just have to manually do it.

See, I don’t like that part. So I’ve never taken to it. I hear the numbers are incredible for those who are able to get access to it, but I don’t know, it’s just not for me.

Not only that, but I’m a big believer in laser focus: Pick something and stick to it and do it the best you can. And for me, that’s Twitter and Facebook Live.

So let’s go back to Twitter for a minute. You’re famously often on your phone. There’s many pictures of you, whether you’re at a press conference or waiting for a change in the garage, where you’re looking at your phone. Are you typically looking at Twitter in those situations?

No.

No? OK.

I wish I had my phone right now to show you, but I don’t. It’s locked upstairs. But I would show you, I have a number of apps that I use. I have racing apps, which could be timing and scoring. I have engineering apps for the car so I can understand what’s going on with the car. So I have a lot of different apps and tools that I look at. And then I have, of course, social media apps that I go on.

People automatically assume whenever I’m on my phone that I’m on Twitter, and it’s kind of funny to me. Like, “Yeah, yeah, you’re right.” But I try to keep a number of apps. My phone is my connectivity device for not just social media, but also for my profession.

Obviously you’re still looking at it a lot, whether you’re on it every second or not. What do you get from Twitter? What are you taking out of it that you find most valuable and makes you want to stay on it?

Without a doubt, news. I read the news. You were at USA Today. Before social media, I read USA Today everyday. Every single day. And I would always get disappointed when there were days and news where there wasn’t a lot to read. And there’s still days on social media that are that way, but I can always find myself falling into a hole, or I’ll find somebody like, “This guy is talking about topics that I knew nothing about.”

If you watched my Facebook Live last night, we did one here through Wurth’s Facebook Live account, we were talking about the Paris Climate Agreement. That kind of stuff — I can’t find in-depth reporting about that stuff in most newspapers, so I’ll find somebody who’s an expert on the field and they’ll have an entire thread of, “Here’s what’s good, here’s what’s bad” — and of course they have their own biases in there — but I love reading those and I’ve fallen in those Twitter holes a lot.

The other side of that is people wanting to interact with you in your replies. Typically, how many of your replies do you read? Do you try and go through all of them, and what kind of interaction do you have with your fans?

One of the things I would say is any of the times where you want to see a reply, you can’t, which is a real bummer. Like when you won a race, you’re like, “Man, I really want to see what people are saying,” and people are saying nice things to you and you want to read it… I’m not able to do it because it doesn’t load them all. It only loads 30 or 40 of them, which is super frustrating because you missed out on all of that and I always feel bad about it. It’s such a bummer. So I would say first off, I would want to say thank you those people who write the stuff even though I don’t always get to see it.

(Editor’s note: Keselowski is referring to the standard Twitter app, which only loads up selected tweets and replies. Personally, I recommend using Tweetbot to avoid this problem).

And then most times, it’s the exact opposite — the times you can see the replies are when you really don’t want to, like if it’s a slow news week or something bad has happened and you’re like, “Argh, I don’t want to read this.” But for the most part, I try to read every one of them when I can, even when it’s bad.

When it comes to dealing with the bad, there’s three ways you could do it: You can ignore, block or mute. Which one do you typically choose?

I used to block. I stopped blocking. I regret that I blocked. If there was a function that showed who you’ve blocked in your life, I wish I could go back and unblock those people.

I think there actually might be. You may want to look into that.

Huh, I didn’t know that. OK. So someone’s gonna have to teach me that.

So I would say, I’m a big believer now, as just a theory in life, in truth and grace. I wrote a blog about it, I spent a lot of time studying it, that’s my new channel. So when it comes to replying, I believe in truth and grace. And if I have truth, I think that it’s worth writing someone, but only if it has grace. And the two are important because one can’t exist without another. Truth dies on a vine without grace, and grace doesn’t exist without truth. It’s really a simple principle, and I try to carry that over in all aspects of my life, including social media.

Any final thoughts on your general theory about social media or something you want people to know that I didn’t ask about?

First off, I’m honored that anyone thinks I’m interesting enough to follow. And I feel like sometimes, I have some stuff that’s worth saying and other times not so much. I get writer’s block, like anyone else, where I’ll feel like I might go a month and not have anything cool to say and then I might have two weeks of this, this, this and this.

So there’s some ups and downs. It’s just the way it’s gonna be. But I appreciate those who follow. I do all my own social media with respect to Twitter. I do have a little bit of help with Facebook, not the Live part, but the posts and so forth. But I try to be authentic, I try to have fun. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m doing the best I can and I appreciate that people follow.

Social Spotlight: @MonsterMile’s Lynn Sudik

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on his or her social media usage. Up next: Lynn Sudik, who is the social media coordinator for Dover International Speedway.

What exactly does your job entail? What are you in charge of? Do you have help tweeting and posting on Facebook and Instagram, or is it all you?

It’s a little bit different on race weekend versus the rest of the year. I work for the speedway full time and my primary responsibility is to handle our social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat, Reddit — we’re on all of those channels. And then on race weekend I do have a little bit of extra help that comes in to capture content and post photos and other things like that. So this weekend, I actually have three people helping me with all of my social media needs.

For most of the year, your job is far different than two weekends which get super intense and busy and crazy, and I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure. How do you manage the plan going into a race weekend? How far out are you scheduling?

I use a social media management platform called Hootsuite. So I schedule a lot of my posts ahead of time. And what we like to do, since we don’t control the on-track product too much, we like to post about what it is we do control — i.e. stuff that happens in the Fan Zone and our Monster Mile Youth Nation area for kids.

So I will go in and look at our race weekend activities schedule, all of the driver appearances we have happening outside of the track. For example, this weekend we had Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Truex and the Sea Watch International display, we have the International Drone Racing Association here, so I will go in and find out when those events are happening and I will schedule a few posts to go out on various platforms to promote them and get people to go out and make sure that everybody’s aware of what’s happening.

What’s the balance then of running around on race weekend, getting content, photos, seeing what’s going on? You have the scheduled posts, but you also have tons of fan requests coming in that you’re having to manage. What’s the priority?

It’s definitely a challenge to strike that balance. Since I am the most knowledgable about our racetrack because I work here full time, I try to remain stationary in the media center for a good portion of the weekend so I can do those monitoring and scheduling posts to make sure that we’re covering everything and then that’s where my extra help comes in. A friend of mine, his name is Zach, he’s been helping me for a few years now and he’s actually been a race fan — that’s kind of how we got to know each other. He’s a big help in capturing some content on the outside that I can’t get to because I’m in the media center.

When fans tweet complaints to you, what’s your next step? Do you pass them along to other people? Do you just deal with what you can?

Any question that I know the answer to, I will address right there on the spot. If it’s a complaint or it’s a question that I don’t know the answer to, I will send that to the appropriate person on our staff and try and get that answer for that particular fan. I also try to let the fan know that we’re working through an answer for you; we’re not just leaving you hanging.

In general, I’m sure you get tweets like, “Hey, loving @MonsterMile, it’s so great to be here!” as well as people venting about things like, “Traffic @MonsterMile, you stink!” So is it more positive or negative?

We get a combination of all of the above and it also largely depends on the weather. So if we have a nice weather forecast, there are fewer complaints.

This past week for example, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the forecast for the race on Sunday wasn’t looking that great, so we were getting a lot of people asking us, “What’s the contingency plan? Will the race be run on Sunday? Will you move it to Saturday? Will it be run on Monday? What happens if Monday gets rained out?” I’m like, OK, let’s just take it one day at a time, the forecast is gonna change. So it does largely depend on what the weather situation is.

When it comes to a race weekend, is Twitter the one that you’re having to pay the most attention to? What happens to Facebook and Instagram on those weekends?

Twitter can be a handful to keep track of on race weekends. I will leave my computer for maybe a half hour and when I go back, it will take me about two hours to go through all the mentions that we have. It’s not that they’re negative, it’s not that they’re all questions or comments or concerns, but the race teams are tagging us in their practice photos and in photos of the drivers and lap times and all of that stuff.

So it’s sorting through what are tweets that I need to address and what are tweets that people are just posting about because they’re here. And that’s what we love to see, but it’s just a lot of the volume of tweets we get on any given race weekend is huge. Like I said, it takes me a while to sort through them all.

And then Facebook, people tend to spend a little more time complaining on Facebook just because they have more room to work with. So a lot of people will voice their concerns on our Facebook wall, and again, that’s where I can address it in the moment if I can. Otherwise I will pass it along to whoever and get answers or address whatever concerns people have.

How far out do you start planning the tweet up?

I guess it’s probably about a month out. It depends on the situation if we can get a guest there or not. Most of the times if we have to make an ask for a guest, no one is really concerned about our race until at the very least two weeks out.

But I also have a hand in some other things on race weekend. Our Monster Mile Youth Nation, we have a youth autograph session that NASCAR helps us to coordinate. I am the Dover point of contact for that, so when it comes to scheduling the tweet up, I need to make sure that I don’t have those times overlapping. So it also depends on my schedule and when I can make it work on race weekend.

I imagine there has to be a trust factor with your co-workers like Gary Camp (who leads the track’s communications), where you may want to tweet something at times, but obviously you can’t totally speak for the entire track on some issues or some decisions. Do you ever have to go to your co-workers and ask, “Hey am I allowed to say this?” Or have you been here long enough now that there’s a trust level?

When I started, they were a little more involved. I think one of the first days on the job, Gary talked about an intern who had handled their social media at one point before I got there and posted something weather-related, (saying) the weather didn’t look that great. (Camp) made a point that we never want to discourage people from coming to the track. So we always try to keep a positive attitude on our social media accounts.

But yeah, there is a trust factor, and I feel like I’ve figured out what is appropriate to say and what’s necessarily not going to go over well if it’s posted publicly.

What is your background? How did you get into it and what’s the suggested path you may have for people who want to make a similar career move?

I have wanted to work in motorsports since I was around 14 years old. I was born in Indianapolis and kind of grew up around IndyCar racing. I went to college, my degree is in communications. My first job out of college, I was working for a PR agency in New York City not related to motorsports at all. But I still had that dream and I still kept after it.

I actually found this particular opening through an online job board called TeamWork Online. A lot of the tracks, both independent and (International Speedway Corporation) and (Speedway Motorsports Inc.), they’ll post their openings on there as well as a lot of other professional sports leagues.

I also got my Master’s degree in Sports Administration from Ohio University. I just graduated this spring.

But if this is somebody’s dream job to work in motorsports, I would say to never give up. I had to work through a lot and it took me a solid five years of trying, applying for jobs, networking to actually land this particular job. So don’t ever give up on that dream if you want to work in motorsports.

That’s my top advice as well because I feel like a lot of people want to get into racing and then they realize it’s really hard to break in. Just to get that initial foot in the door, and I think a lot of people give up — so half of it is just persevering and sacrificing enough and never letting that dream go. Because eventually, if you’re truly passionate about it, some door will open. Do you know what I’m saying?

Yeah, I would definitely echo those sentiments. It’s about never giving up, it’s about persevering and sometimes it’s just about being in the right place at the right time.

I had made a lot of effort to network and get to know people in the industry, but this particular job I didn’t know anybody at the company before I applied for this opening. And it just kind of happened that I applied at the right time and they called me in for an interview and then I ended up getting the job.

So it’s definitely about who you know, but it can also be about what you know, so make sure that you keep trying and you sharpen your skills to the best of your ability in order to make yourself a viable candidate.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about what you guys do with the Monster Mile accounts or anything like that?

I feel like we talked a lot about people complaining, but I don’t want to the give the idea that the only posts that we receive on race weekend are complaints because they’re not. I just retweeted somebody who posted a picture in the Fan Zone and I was like, “Yeah! Love it! Have a great time, we’re so glad you’re here!”

So it’s a balance of all of those negative and positive comments, but if you’re not already following us, you really should be. We’re @MonsterMile on Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and then on Facebook our page is Dover International Speedway.

Social Spotlight with Josef Newgarden

Each week, I’ll be asking a member of the motorsports community about their social media usage. This week: Josef Newgarden of Team Penske’s IndyCar program. I spoke to Newgarden at Indianapolis Motor Speedway prior to the Indy 500.

I was just looking at your Twitter account. One thing that jumped out at me: You have only liked one tweet. Are you anti-like?

Well I guess everyone uses the platform differently, right? I’ve never really liked photos. I liked that one photo of all the helmets at the Indianapolis 500 lined up, which is a very cool photo.

You know, I’m like OCD almost. I’m either gonna like a ton of stuff or not like anything. I guess it’s weird that I have one like, but yeah, I’ve never really used it for that.

With Twitter, I more so use it for responding to people. It’s a great platform to answer questions — just cause people can ask you whenever — or just give out information about where you are or where you can meet, something like that.

I like a ton of tweets, because it’s my way of saying, “I acknowledge that.” But I always feel like if somebody was going to my account they’d see all these random-ass tweets that make no sense and have no order. So I kind of like your clean, uncluttered view.

Yeah, I mean that’s how I am. It’s very OCD I guess, but it’s just the way I’ve always been so I have not changed it. I’ll try to answer more, because I’m with you — a like is like an acknowledgment and it’s nice for someone to see that you like their post or that you at least saw it. But I try to answer as much as I can. I probably should answer a lot more, but if I’m gonna acknowledge it, I normally just answer to it.

Are you using Twitter as your newsfeed? Do you look at it every day in the morning?

Yeah, I do actually. I still think Twitter is probably the best social platform for quick news. (With) Facebook, you get kind of the same; it’s more blown up content and it’s kind of a bigger view of news. But Twitter’s really easy to just ramble through everything and it can always just give you a link to go somewhere to look at something bigger.

But yeah, I like it for (news). I like following informational sites (like) Wired.com if you wanna see something with tech. I mean it just can be any of these news outlets. I think it’s really helpful for that. So I like following it and then for me as a driver, I think it’s great for giving people information on what you’re doing or where you’re gonna be if there’s a meet-and-greet or something like that.

Now on the downside of this, Twitter can be sort of nasty at times. There are some trolls on there. How do you deal with that: Do you block people? Do you mute people? Do you just ignore it?

I just ignore it — I honestly do. I don’t even reply. There’s been a couple times where I’ve replied just cause I couldn’t help myself I guess, but I’ll never follow a reply. I’ll say something, have my two cents, and then just be done with it.

If it gets worse and starts spiraling out of control, I don’t continue. It’s literally one thing: That’s what I said (and leave it at that). And if I said something wrong, I’ll try to apologize, because it’s easy to get looked at wrong on social media for saying something that you didn’t mean or it had come across the wrong way.

But for the most part, I just ignore everything. There’s a lot of people that say a lot of stuff, and you just gotta be really good at just letting it go. I think that’s the best thing: To just let it go. And it’s probably the best way to handle it, cause these guys or girls, what they really want is a response. So if you don’t respond to them, it’s kind of the best thing to do, in my opinion.

We’ve all had situations where sometimes we’re following somebody and we’re like, “I don’t wanna follow this anymore. These tweets are irrelevant, they’re too much,” or whatever. How do you handle that? Do you just unfollow or do you mute people?

(Laughs) I think I’d go with the ignore thing again. I’ll see stuff I don’t like and I’ll just blow past it because I’ve gotten very efficient at scrolling fast. If I’m seeing stuff that I don’t wanna see, I’m just scrolling by it.

Even my girlfriend is like, “How are you even reading any of this?” And it’s literally just I’ll read one word and I’ll either like it or I don’t, so I just go past it. So I’ve not had to mute anyone, not really had to unfollow anybody because of that. I just ignore it.

What’s your take on Snapchat? I’ve seen you do some Snapchat takeovers, but do you have your own Snapchat account?

I can’t get into the Snapchat thing. I find it fascinating, because young kids now are — I mean, I’m a kid still I guess, technically — but you know, just young people that use Snapchat are so weird and hilarious, right? Like, people just have no shame. There’s no shame. And I don’t think people realize that if you put something on the Internet, it is permanent. OK? I don’t care if you delete it, it’s always there. You have put it out and into the world and it’s always in the world now. It’s gonna be there somewhere.

But people today, they don’t care. They love it. They want to share it. For me, I struggle because it’s like, Snapchat is a really constant thing. Like people want a photo here, photo here, video, video, video, like constantly little quick five-second blurbs.

So I feel like you’re missing out on the experience. I’d rather have one nice video or one nice photo of it and take the rest of the time to enjoy that experience. That’s why I can’t get into Snapchat.

That is true though. You go to a concert or something and everybody’s Snapchat is open. Or even here on 500 race day, I’m gonna walk around and anybody that’s under 20, they’re on Snapchat, and that’s the ultimate looking-through-your-screen thing.

Yeah, it’s a love/hate cause I’ve gotten sucked into the social media thing where I don’t post a ton — but I’m always on it. I’m always looking at it just cause I’m trying to understand it, what works, what doesn’t work, what people want to see, what they don’t want to see, what other people are doing. I get sucked into that game and I love and I hate it.

Social media is so great because it’s really a great tool, it’s awesome; the connectivity of it is amazing. But at the same time I also hate it because I just want to enjoy whatever I’m doing, you know? I want to be in the moment, in the present. I’m a little bit old school, I guess. It was almost nice when we didn’t have all this technology. So it’s a love/hate. I love technology, but I also hate it at the end of the day.

You said that you’ve tried to observe what works, what doesn’t, things like that. In your theory, what is your general philosophy on how much to share, what makes people respond to you, things like that?

I do think people want you to be real. I try to be as authentic as possible. Whatever I say is me; there’s no sugarcoating it. Maybe it’s a little bit politically correct sometimes, but it’s my opinion, so I’ll always be honest about that.

I’ve always tried to keep my personal life out it, which a lot of people think is a mistake because most people want to see the inside world that they normally wouldn’t, and that’s one of the nice things about social media — you get to see things that you wouldn’t normally get to see if you didn’t know a person, right

But I try to keep that separate. I use it much for more the professional side of, “Here’s what I’m doing professionally. Here’s what I’m doing in racing,” or it has something to do with racing. That’s all I use it for and I try to maximize that as best as I can.

I think I noticed that on your Instagram as well, because if you scroll through your Instagram feed almost everything is you at the track. It’s not stuff like, “Oh, here’s me doing this,” that kind of thing.

Yeah, pretty much. I use the platforms differently. Like Instagram I use more as an artwork page. I think it’s just beautiful photos of race cars, maybe some photos of me that people want to see within racing, but I normally like seeing photos of race cars myself, just really cool looking photos.

I’m a really big fan of photography actually. I’m not a great photographer, I’m not a photographer myself, but I really admire a lot of the photographers within the sport. Gosh, they get some awesome images sometimes, so I like sharing those and I also like seeing those.

That’s sort of what I use Instagram for, which really is what Instagram was originally made for: It’s a photo-sharing site. Twitter is more just, you can post a photo that doesn’t have to be beautiful; it’s just information, right?

Sometimes I try and be kind of random on my Twitter. I do try to show people my random side, which everyone I think has to some degree. You know, you’ll be eating fries or whatever one day and like you’ll have a thought on French fries and you just wanna share that. It has nothing to do with anything; it’s just a random sentence. I’ll sometimes do that on Twitter as well.

Is Facebook going the way of the dinosaurs like MySpace, or do you think that has a life?

I think it has a life, I just think it has an older life. That’s where all the moms, the grandfathers — it’s all old, you know? That’s not a bad thing: everyone has to have a demographic. I think Facebook’s just become more of an older demographic. There’s a place for that; you want to share with those types of folks as well. So I still get on it.

I look at Facebook and see a lot of things that’s going on. I do find it interesting (that) Facebook video has become very cool. For me, it’s become more of a younger reason to use it just because you don’t want to go to YouTube and search stuff; it’s really easy to see popular videos on Facebook now. I think they’ve done a great job with that. So if I use Facebook, it’s either to look at videos or to post a video. That’s, I think, one of the more useful tools for it.

From a sponsor standpoint and a team standpoint, are they telling you, “Hey, we want to see you on here, we want to see you doing this?” Is there a lot of that that goes on?

Yeah, for sure. I think you have to temper it. I think with either sponsorships or teams, you kind of measure your marketability. You measure how sell-able you are, how popular you are. It’s kind of terrible, but it’s just the way it is nowadays: everyone puts a value on social media. And so you have to have a presence almost, you’re forced to because of those factors, but I think I try to stay true to myself.

If there’s something I don’t wanna do on it, I just don’t do it. If it’s something that a sponsor really wants me to do and I don’t love it, then I try and spin it into something that is more authentic to me. I think that is always more impactful than just putting up an ad. You put up an ad and people can see it immediately like, “This is just a posted tweet that someone wanted you to put out.” And no one wants that — no one wants to see it. It’s not gonna help the company at the end of the day. So you gotta make it authentic and real, and I think that resonates a lot better with people.

Do you have one or two favorite people to follow on Twitter that people may not be following themselves right now?

I gotta say, probably the greatest person on Twitter, and I think a lot of people would agree, is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Now, he does the exact opposite of what I do — but he is a master at it. If you’re gonna go full-in and you’re gonna show people your world, I don’t think anyone has done it better than Dale Jr. He really masters it well. I think he’s fun to follow. For me, that’s why you follow someone on social media, is for that kind of stuff that I just said I don’t wanna do — and he’s probably the best at it. So I enjoy following him.

I just enjoy following all of the drivers because you get to see what everyone’s up to, whether it’s Jimmie Johnson or other NASCAR guys or it’s the IndyCar drivers like Scott Dixon. I enjoy following motorsports. Fernando Alonso, it’s been fun to follow him. Obviously, this is a new journey for him at Indianapolis so it’s interesting to see how he perceives the event, how he shows people the event. So I love following drivers.

Again, I like following news feeds, just different tech sites, any sort of news outlet that’s gonna give you good information on stuff that you’re interested in. I follow all those types of stuff.

Thanks to Dover International Speedway for sponsoring the 12 Questions and Social Spotlight over the past couple months. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race this weekend, please consider using my ticket link.