Denny Hamlin’s excellent Twitter advice

Twitter can be a nasty, no-fun, soul-draining place sometimes. What used to be a place of civil debate and common sense can feel overrun by trolls and haters these days.

So what’s a tweeter to do? Denny Hamlin said he’s taken a new approach this year: “Not replying to mean people.” And now he’s advising others in NASCAR to do the same.

“I’m making a (point) right now to every driver, every team owner, every NASCAR executive and every media member — stop replying to people who make nonsense comments,” Hamlin said. “They have 16 followers! Don’t give them your 100,000 and your stage. No one will ever see their comment. Just brush it by. Talk about the positives — and I’m not a positive guy!”

It sounds good in theory, but…how exactly are people supposed to do that? How does Hamlin ignore the needling comments that have the ability to slice through thick skin?

“You just scroll by it,” he said. “Forget it. That person doesn’t exist. They’re an admirer who has lost their way.”

What do you think? Can that approach work?

Social Spotlight with NASCAR president Brent Dewar

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to share their thoughts on social media usage. This week: Brent Dewar, who was named NASCAR president on July 13 after previously serving as the company’s chief operating officer following a career a General Motors that lasted more than 30 years.

You’ve been on Twitter since 2009 — the early days of the platform. So I’m curious, what attracted you to want to get on Twitter in the first place, way back when it wasn’t as big as it is now?

I came on the marketing side of the automotives, and each of the social media platforms were developing. I liked Twitter because it was like an open email. I was intrigued that you had to get a message out in 140 characters or less. I found that very interesting.

As a marketer, you grew up with 60-second commercials, then it went to 30s, and I love 15s. If I could have done a seven-second commercial, I would have. So I like that aspect and kind of learned the dos and don’ts over time.

So even before society went to this shorter attention span thing, you thought that was something that people would pick up on?

I think it’s not so much shorter attention span — that’s one factor, there’s no question — but as a communicator, the less you say, (the) better and more poignant, because we as humans only retain so much. So I was always intrigued by it. I don’t think I always practice it as well as I want to in those 140 characters, but that’s the essence as a marketer.

As it’s evolved, how much do you use Twitter now, and how much value do you place on it in the role that you’re currently in?

Obviously we have a huge fanbase and they’re very active on all social media. I’ve had accounts through most of the major (forms of social media), and I’ve really focused on Twitter.

What we ask our team is to find your voice. So our voice for competition is Steve O’Donnell, and so we want to make sure he feels comfortable and has the authority to interact on the competition aspect with fans, with the industry and with just folks in general across the industry.

What my role is to play as chief operating officer and now as president, is to find my voice — and I don’t want to step on the competition side of the voice, I don’t want to step on the marketing and (chief marketing officer) Jill Gregory.

So I use it primarily as an amplification tool to the messaging in the industry. That’s been my role, my focus. You might get some business aspects from me because I do the business of NASCAR, but at the end of the day I’m a fan, and so I really approach it from a fan’s perspective.

That’s very interesting that you say that, because my next question was going to be about how you retweet a lot of people in NASCAR. So it sounds like that’s a strategic thing, where you’re taking little pieces from here, little pieces from there, and you’re saying, “Hey, I want to make sure people in the industry are seeing this message.”

Exactly, and that’s one of the big powers of social media, is that first message can cascade so much further. So it is a purely strategic intent; that is the role that I play. We teach that to many of our other executives as well, because if you can connect with the chain on a broader basis, the message goes much further. You can be a Dale Jr. and have four million followers, or you can be a connected part of the industry — and both are very effective in terms of amplifying the message.

Even though you don’t want to step on Steve O’Donnell’s toes, there has to be times where you say, “I really want to say this” or “I really have an opinion on this.” And because you want to stay in your lane, you have to hold off. Are there times where you have to stop yourself from expressing your own opinions?

Yes and no. I would say my lane is never the competition lane, even though I do it in my job. It’s not my social media role. And so I would never be intrigued to go on and do that.

There are times when I do want to say something, and it’s usually a direct message to the driver or a direct message to the industry person and it’s pretty effective as well. You and I have tweeted direct messages back and forth with each other. So I’ve used that mechanism, because at the end of the day, this is a sport, and sometimes people get lost in that. We’re a release for a lot of the things that go on in the world. Like all sports, it’s entertainment, and I just want to make sure that I stay within that and enjoy it at the same time.

You’re known as somebody’s who is very hard working; there’s a lot of hours that you put in and it sounds like you pour your soul into this job. How does the daily social media grind fit into your role? Are you able to see everything that happens on Twitter?

It’s a challenge. I think the expression is “time poverty.” We all suffer from it, so I’m a believer in technology. I always have been. I’m an early adopter. I think I was one of the first BlackBerry users; you don’t want to know what I paid for my first BlackBerry. It’s shocking. But I think we use technology to expand the hours of the day.

I’ve always been fortunate or unfortunate — depending on my mother’s point of view — that I never really slept too much, even as a kid. So I’m awake for the better part of the 24 hours of a day. So I use all these different tools, techniques from technology to get us there.

I try to make sure that I’m consuming the sport with 360 degree view. I’m definitely on Sirius/XM when I have my time for that on the drive. And the guys definitely know when I’m on, because I’ll usually pull off to the side of the road — I don’t text and drive — and I’ll send a couple of direct messages to them if I feel like I need to comment. And same with TV, same with digital, same with social media.

So they all have their place. I think the days of a single medium consuming your information, those days are gone. When I grew up as a kid, we had a big network broadcast and it was pretty easy to get your news. Everybody tuned in at the nightly news. That’s not the case today; it’s instantaneous, so you find your mechanism and platform to get your information and to also share information. So I try to balance it throughout the day.

I think we’ve all found social media can be a drain at times because of negativity. I’m sure I irritate you at times with my tweets where you’re like, “Oh, come on.” So my question is, why do you choose to be on Twitter with all the negativity goes on?

I would say this is the marketing researcher in me. I’ve always been intrigued in human behavior, and sports is the craziest experience of human behavior. So I think what you have to recognize is that sports fans are passionate. That’s where the word “fanatic” came from. Sports fans are 365/24/7.

I think what you have to recognize is that some of the callers, when you talk on a radio sports show, are a demographic unto themselves. And so usually you have to manage the filters and understand that it’s not absolute; it’s directional.

Same with social media: you can’t just read the good clips. You can’t (just say), “Wow, that’s fantastic,” and ignore the other side. So what you want to do is filter and capture the passion, and not the raw emotion. The emotion can get very negative, and you can’t have too thin of skin. You have to really balance points, and you’ve got to put it through a filter what you’re hearing.

Everybody has a response. It’s like, “I’ve got a bad back” — you’ve got to get those symptoms of what’s causing that bad back. Is it a disc, is it weight, is it poor posture? What is it? Don’t respond to the aching back; get to the root cause.

And I would say out of all of these conditions, when you get to the negative, there’s a reason; there’s a root cause. Some of it maybe is just someone jumping on a bandwagon. If you can peel back the layers and you’re truly passionate about it, you’re gonna get to (the truth). And that’s why I try to look at it.

When it gets to hate or real negative stuff, then I’ll turn you off. There’s no place for that in society. But other than that, if it’s just raw emotion, it’s OK.

I argue with’s Jim Utter about Twitter sometimes. I’ll say, “Everybody on Twitter is saying this,” and he’ll say, “Well Twitter’s this echo chamber, it’s not representative of society because only 25 percent of people use Twitter.” How representative of the overall NASCAR fanbase is the opinion that appears on Twitter?

That’s a good question. I’d have to think through that a little bit more, but I’d say it represents the direction. I think where we tend to get caught up is absolutes versus direction, if that makes sense. So it’s directionally correct and absolutely wrong. It’s kind of funny to say it.

What you’ll find is there’s a wave, because it’s an amplification tool. The core elements of what is being said positive or negatively is there, and some people are just amplifying. They don’t even share that opinion, and what I learned also in the early days back in ’09 and ’10, is don’t be taken by the sheer volume (of opinion on Twitter) because in some cases, they don’t even have that point of view. They’re just sharing that point of view with someone else, saying, “Can you believe what someone else had shared?” And you have the understand the mediums, right? You have to get to it and understand it. So I’ll take that assignment on, I’ll have to think that one through.

One thing social media is also good for is getting to know someone personally, and I know a lot of NASCAR fans want to learn more about you. You occasionally share pictures of your daughter, Olivia, who seems like she’s been a lifelong NASCAR fan. How does her fandom shape your view of social media today and NASCAR as a whole?

She’s been with me from the beginning, this is my only child. So before I joined NASCAR, I took her to the Daytona 500. It was the year Jamie McMurray won, and it was also the year of the concrete, the big delay in the race. But it’s really interesting: Even at a very young age, probably 3 at the time, I saw the race through her eyes. She had a Jimmie Johnson jacket.

Over the years, we went to Europe (where he lived for a job assignment) and she would sit in my lap and we would watch tennis — she loved Rafael Nadal because he was left handed — but she would love all the NASCAR races. She would sit in my lap and watch NASCAR from Zurich, Switzerland.

And it’s gone on and on every year and it’s evolved, and she is truly a passionate NASCAR fan. But she’s also a great critique. She asks me questions about, “Dad, why aren’t we doing this? Why aren’t we doing a different thing?” So I always remind her she’s not yet working for the sanctioning body, but she’s kind of a valuable input.

What I look at is she’s not too dissimilar to any other kids. There’s no difference to when I started, going to a racetrack with a friend or a family member. That’s the essence of NASCAR: It’s family, it’s faith, it’s patriotism. And we have to rekindle that.

She just turned 11 last week, which is a funny story. For her birthday, I asked, “What would you like to do?” and she said, “I want to go to Bristol.” And she’d been at Michigan the week before. So she’s gone to Michigan, Bristol and Darlington — three consecutive weekends.

She’s with her dad and her dad’s working, but to see how she’s evolved and what’s important to her, the social aspects are important for her. She loves stage racing because there’s a break in the action where she can talk to her dad or talk to her friends.

We didn’t set out to do stage racing for that reason. We did it because the number one complaint from fans was breaking from green-flag racing for a commercial. And we’re one of the few sports that does it, all motorsports does it. When we worked with NBC and FOX, we worked on a program and the industry came together to create it.

As a 10-year-old at that time, she couldn’t identify that as an issue, but she sees the benefit as a fan, and that’s what we learn about our fans — don’t worry about change; they’ll accept change. What we’re learned over time is that when talking about change, study it, get ready, make sure there’s a benefit for the fan and just do it for the right reasons.

How do you see this continuing to evolve where you can get more of Olivia’s friends to watch and get them interested in it? People get hooked as a kid, so it seems like Olivia’s generation is important. How do you guys keep continuing that and building that initiative to get more of it?

There’s no question. It’s not just sports or NASCAR. Brand preferences are formed somewhere between 7 and 10. There’s been lots of market research and marketers who have studied that for a long time. It could be a precocious 6 year old, but generally that form, they have an understanding of what they value and what they don’t.

And so we’ve worked with the industry, with the track council last year to provide kids under 12 free admission for the Truck and Xfinity races and discount tickets at the Cup level, because we need to get the families to come back together. We actually developed some interesting marketing programs. We’ve talked about the STEM program, we’re in Scholastic in the schools, physics at 200 miles per hour. These are all the enablers to try to connect that you just don’t wait until you’re grown up to get to the racetrack.

The key thing with NASCAR, the 80 million fans we have on an annual basis, it’s the core folks, the 2.5 million that come to the racetrack. Because if you come to the race, it’s just not to attend and have a great experience and that 360 engagement. We know when you watch the broadcast, you look differently at it next time — and they do a great job, but you see the sport differently. You’ll hear the calls from the Sirius/XM guys deeper and much better if you’ve been to the race. And that’s kind of the approach we look at.

I still remember my first race. I was a NASCAR fan growing up in Canada, I was working for an auto company, and I got the assignment to go to Bristol, Tennessee. It was 1988, and I was already a fan. I was grown up — I was working in the industry — but I was a young marketing executive, and I still remember that hauler with what had to be 300 or 400 people standing in front of Dale Earnhardt’s trailer on a Friday at Bristol. I was stunned, I couldn’t believe it.

And that next day, the race, I think (Alan) Kulwicki won the pole, and Earnhardt came in first, I think he beat (Bill) Elliott in a really close race. I’ve seen thousands of races, but that race to this day, even though that was my very first (was memorable).

Bristol was very different then. Still, the shape of Bristol, the core coliseum concept was alive. I took my wife and daughter last weekend, and they had never been to Bristol. They’ve been to lots of races, and they had that same experience that I had. You could just see their eyes light up, the August race under the lights at Bristol. It’s remarkable.

What else do you follow in Twitter that are your interests outside of the sport? I’ve seen some of your tweets. Obviously, you’re a hockey fan. Do you follow any hockey stuff on Twitter, do you follow any entertainment stuff that you enjoy, or is it mostly focused on your work?

I do. I get my news, so like a lot of folks, every news broadcast, NBC, FOX, ABC, and the whole gang.

Most people don’t realize I’m a huge environmentalist. I always have been, growing up on the West Coast. I’ve had that influence since a young age, so I’m very much following what’s happening in the world with those things. We race outdoors, so we understand climate change. The NASCAR Green program isn’t a slogan, we really do care about all those aspects. So I’ll kind get these bits of information as well.

We are in the entertainment business, so we’ll cross-link (with celebrities). I’ve had the pleasure in this job to meet very interesting people from industry and entertainment. So many of them you get to know, and you get to follow them and see what information they have.

Having an 11-year-old daughter, I do follow a lot of the people that she likes in terms of music. We went to an Ed Sheeran concert in Orlando last week, which was remarkable. If you’ve never seen Ed Sheeran in concert, (he’s a) one-man show, incredibly talented.

You can get really insular in your sport, and you have to make sure you don’t get insular and understand what’s happening around you.

Finally, this is a little bit of a tough question to answer because nobody really knows, but where do you see social media going next?

I think it’s about fragmentation. The beauty of the good ol’ days, back in the day you could make your communications (widespread). John Kennedy was elected at the time and used the mass media networks to tell his messages. It was remarkable.

Over time, TV has become more fragmented. So that’s a challenge, but it’s also a positive, because it can be more vertical. It can have a food channel, a sports channel, those kinds of things. So with those fragmentations comes more opportunities which can be more targeted to the audiences.

I think social media is not what some people think it is. It’s truly the media of today’s generation, and it’s not a medium for the young; it’s all generations.

So I think what you’ll see is more fragmentation, which will be challenging because you have to follow what’s new and hot, but you’re also gonna see it come back to much generalizing as well. So it’ll be a place for both.

And I think what you’ll see, it’s the old Marshall McLuhan (theory): The medium is the message. If you can approach it that way, you want to stay relevant as it adapts, but you’ll also want to recognize the platform for what it can deliver. And if you don’t mix those two pieces, I think there’s a place where social media will continue to evolve.

It’s not a fad. It’s really truly a medium for today’s generation of technologists and people around the world. I can communicate through WhatsApp with my family in Brazil. That’s amazing technology. We can instantly communicate. They’ll be following the race today at Darlington, and they’ll be messaging through WhatsApp, which is their medium to communicate with me at the track today.

So I see a great future for all social media. I think we just have to utilize it as a tool to be able to express and receive information and be able to contribute.

This interview was brought to you by Dover International Speedway. The cutoff race for the first playoff round takes place at Dover on Oct. 1. Here’s a link to buy tickets (and make sure to come say hi at the tweetup).

Social Spotlight with Brandon Brown of Chicagoland Speedway

Each week,  I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their social media usage. Up next: Brandon Brown, digital marketing manager for Chicagoland Speedway.

The Chicagoland Speedway account on Twitter (@ChicagolndSpdwy) does a good job interacting with followers all year long, not just on a race weekend. What’s your philosophy as far as engaging on the feed throughout the season?

Well that’s kind of what it’s all about. I’ve been a NASCAR fan since I was 8 years old, so I appreciate talking to NASCAR fans like a NASCAR fan. That’s kind of my social media strategy.

One of the things I try to do is staying in every conversation we possibly can. For example: On Tuesday, Hendrick announced Chase Elliott was taking over the No. 9 car and William Byron was moving to the 24. I had a video queued up of when Chase Elliott won here in the 9 car in the Xfinity Series in 2014, and fans just started jumping on that. They started sending us pictures, saying, “Man, I was here in victory lane,” or “I saw his burnout.” It’s just great to interact that way. There’s no real science to social media, and that’s the way I look at it.

What’s the balance? Obviously you want to sell tickets to your race, but you also want to keep people informed and interact with them.

It’s a great balance because we want to let people know as Chicagoland Speedway what we have to offer: What the ticket prices are, how many camping spots we have, all the new amenities. But people on social media, you’ll find they become really disengaged when you just hit them over the head with “Buy tickets now, buy tickets now, we want you to buy tickets now.” And social media isn’t really the place for that, in my opinion.

So we hit on all of our marketing messages. We let people know that yes, we have tickets and we want people to come here. Our main goal is to put 55,000 people in those seats, sell out all of our camping spots and give people a great time. But on social media, you have to do different things. You have to stay conversational, and that’s not always hitting people over the head with ticketing messages.

How did you arrive at that conclusion? Is it instinct, or is there data that tells you?

There’s some great tools on Facebook, especially, where you can see what messaging point you threw out there and you lost 10 or 15 followers. And you can use that data to gear your posts toward being more conversational.

But a lot of the time on Twitter, I just do what I think I would want to see. Being a NASCAR fan myself from way back, I put out content I would like to engage with. I would call it sending out shareable content that gives you an emotional investment. If you’re emotionally invested in the content, you’re more likely to relate to it and share it out. And that helps us and that gets the job done.

You touched on Facebook, so let’s talk about that for a second. What’s the difference between content you put on Facebook and what you put on Twitter?

Well I treat Twitter as basically a place where you can have endless conversations with people about anything. Facebook is much more structured than Twitter when it comes to that. If you put out 20 Facebook posts a day, the algorithm will dilute it and all of your messaging will get filtered out unless it’s something that is really, really shareable.

But on Twitter, if I’m out there bantering with Texas Motor Speedway, Talladega, The Orange Cone and retweeting you all at the same time, it’s less likely to do that. So Facebook, we really try to stick more toward our sales messages and put your really, really great content on Facebook. On Twitter, you can be more conversational with it.

What is the strategy from a team perspective at Chicagoland? Do you have free reign to say what you want? Are there brainstorming sessions?

From Jan. 1 to race weekend, we have a great outline as to what we want to accomplish and when we want to accomplish it. But as you know, social media is 24/7/365 and very fluid, so we follow an outline, but you can’t always follow it to the T because things are changing all the time.

Are there any times when you worry about going too far with a tweet? Have you ever been reprimanded for something you tweeted?

I haven’t been reprimanded. I live-tweet all the races, and it’s saying our company message but also as a fan. When Ryan Blaney was battling Kevin Harvick (for Blaney’s first win at Pocono), you’re going nuts on Twitter. So there have been a couple things I’ve been asked to take down, but nothing really, really bad.

But when we were traveling to Michigan, we camped there and my co-worker Michael (Blaszczyk, consumer marketing manager) and I live-tweeted our trip from the Chicagoland account. So we told fans to ask us anything. One fan asked us why we don’t give out free hot passes. I said hot passes aren’t as easy to get as you might think.

But then Dale Jr. quote-tweeted us and tweeted to this guy — his name is Jeff — “Don’t lie to Jeff.”

And of course, what Dale Jr. says on Twitter is the law and it blew up. I had that heart attack moment where, “Oh my God, I’m going to have to delete this tweet, we’re going to have to put out a press release,” all this stuff.

But then Jon Wood (from Wood Brothers Racing) jumped in and was like, “Dale’s just lying” or something like that, and a couple other team guys said he was just BSing. And that quelled it. But you have those heart attack moments where you’re trying to put out something that’s edgy and fun and cool, and you just hope it doesn’t get you in trouble.

You mentioned you grew up being a fan. What was your journey to get to this point and become the digital marketing manager for Chicagoland Speedway?

Since 1993, I’ve either watched, listened to or saw in person probably 99 percent of the NASCAR races. I almost quit Little League Baseball because I couldn’t watch the 2000 Pepsi 400. It’s been a dream of mine to work in NASCAR in some capacity. I went to journalism school at West Virginia University and got a degree in broadcasting, and I wanted to be Ken Squier. Ken Squier is my broadcasting hero.

You have to start somewhere doing something, so I was a sports writer in West Virginia while I was in broadcasting school. And then luckily I got on as a stringer at the Associated Press covering women’s basketball. (AP racing writer) Jenna Fryer went to West Virginia, and she came to our school to speak. And of course, I was asking her (questions), bugging her, went to lunch with her and then I paid my way to the Coke 600 in 2008 just to shadow her for a weekend.

After I got out of college, I was a sports writer at my local paper and then worked at a sports marketing company doing copy editing and publishing and then we started social media marketing. When I was ready to move on, the Chicagoland Speedway digital marketing coordinator job opened up, and I jumped at the chance. I went and applied, and within two weeks, I was hired. It was probably one of the greatest days of my life.

How does that fan perspective inform your decisions on a day-to-day basis?

I think it goes back to what I would want to see and hear and feel and visualize as a fan. Whenever we’re pushing out marketing messages, our videos, even our creative pieces, I want every little thing to make me feel like I did when I was a kid. Like we pushed out Kyle Busch’s 18 Days to Go on our social channels (Wednesday), and Toyota Racing interacted with it and it was just really fun stuff, so it spread out to a lot of people. I want to make all of our fans have an emotional investment like I did when I was a kid.

For people whose careers are just starting off and want to make it in the NASCAR industry like you did, what advice would you give to those people?

If you’re in college, do every little thing you can outside of your schoolwork. How I got on with the Associated Press is I ran stats at the (high school) state swimming meet for two 14-hour days. Basically, they’d swim for a little bit, I’d put the stats on a jump drive and send them down to Charleston, West Virginia. They’d publish them and we’d go back and forth. Basically, I was just sitting there for the majority of the day watching high school swimming.

I didn’t have to do that. They asked at the school paper: “Hey, who wants to do this?” I said, “Sure.” The next week, the AP called me and said, “Hey, do you want to cover women’s basketball?” Then men’s basketball, then football. Then Jenna Fryer came along. So the best advice is to do every little thing you can to advance your career.

What haven’t I asked you that you want fans to know about?

In NASCAR terms, we’re a new track — 2001. A lot of tracks have the history to pull from for content. Dale Earnhardt never raced here. We can’t showcase Dale Earnhardt on any of our social channels, and we know that fans absolutely love seeing old pictures of Senior and videos. We have a smaller pool of history to pull from, so we have to be really creative in stuff we do. So that’s a challenge, but it’s a really, really fun challenge.

It sounds like you really like your job.

I really, really like my job. I kind of stole this from your Quiet Track pictures, but I do sunrises every single race day. The first Cup sunrise (on the job), I sat there and thought of one of Ken Squier’s calls to tweet out, and I started tearing up. Because it was that powerful.

Living the dream, right?

Absolutely living the dream. It’s awesome.

You can follow Chicagoland Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat (Snap name: CLSNATION). Brown’s personal Twitter account is @BrandonBrownWV.

This interview was brought to you by Dover International Speedway. The cutoff race for the first playoff round takes place at Dover on Oct. 1. Here’s a link to buy tickets (and make sure to come say hi at the tweetup).


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.


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 Sydnee Fryer

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to provide some insight on their social media usage. Up this week: Sydnee Fryer, an SI Kids Reporter who recently covered the Indy 500 and the daughter of Associated Press writer Jenna Fryer. I asked Sydnee to help explain how young teens view social media.

Just for background, can you tell people how old you are and where you are in school right now?

I’m 13 and I’m in seventh grade right now.

Obviously, social media is a big part of any seventh grader’s life and I know you’re active in it and are on several platforms. First of all, can you rank the platforms that you use in order from the ones you enjoy the most to the least?

So I only use three: I’m on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. It’s probably a tie between using Snapchat and Instagram most because I communicate through Snapchat, but I look at Instagram the most. And then I’m on Twitter a lot; I tweet a lot, so I’m probably most active on Twitter, but I don’t use it as much for other things.

So Facebook is completely out. You guys don’t Facebook at all. Do any of your friends use it? 

I know one of my friends uses it to stalk family members, but that’s it.

Why don’t you use Facebook?

I just never did it. I just never built a profile. Like I know my mom is on it, but I never got around to it because I know all my friends were getting on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter before I was, and just no one was on Facebook, so I never got on Facebook.

Let’s start with Snapchat since you said that’s the one you enjoy the most. You said you communicate with your friends through that. Do you snap people in place of texting altogether?

Yes. Most of the time when it’s just my friends and I having a private conversation, it’s that. We have group chats on text because not everyone has Snapchat, but the majority of the time it’s over Snapchat.

What percent of your friends do you think use Snapchat?

Eighty to 85. Because we’re only 13, some of us can’t have it or don’t have phones — but everyone who has a phone has it.

That’s interesting. And so Instagram, do you use it just for your own posts or do you send messages through that as well?

Yeah, we send direct messages. My friends and I have a group chat and we’ll send each other things that we think are funny or (about) people from our school doing something, and then I obviously post myself and look at other people’s posts.

What percent of your friends do you think use Instagram?

Less than Snapchat. Probably about 60 or 70.

And then as far as Twitter, what do you use that for? Are you basically looking at stuff, are you posting updates for your friends?

So none of my friends are really on Twitter; I have one friend that uses Twitter. None of my friends are into sports like I am, so that’s what I use to talk about sports. So most of my Twitter is just me talking about sports, what I think about this basketball game going on — because none of my friends look at it, so none of my friends know what I’m talking about.

So you’re saying maybe less than 10 percent of your friends have Twitter?

Yeah. Like no one uses Twitter. I love Twitter and I know that a lot of young people do, but none of the people I know really do it.

So how do your friends get information if they’re only basically on Snapchat and Instagram?

Either I’ll tell them (or) they’ll get it late, so they don’t see it as soon as I do. But now Snapchat and Instagram are kind of upping their game, I would say. Snapchat now has their news stories and everything, and then Instagram has their constant postings. And if you follow news sites, you can get it pretty easily. It’s just not as rapid as Twitter and there’s not as many people talking about it.

So those stories that pop up on Snapchat like the daily Stories from the different outlets, people use those as news sources. That’s how they’re getting their information.

Yes, absolutely. There’s certain political sites that my friends look at to find out what’s going on or I’ll tell them or I’ll say something about it. One way or another, they’ll see it through the internet or something like that.

So let’s say people are growing up this way and not even consuming Twitter or Facebook, which is where most journalists are posting their stories. When I post my stories, I put tweet them and put them on Facebook and that’s it. So what’s the best way to reach people in your age group for people like myself or even companies and marketers?

That’s hard, because I don’t know a lot of my friends … read news articles and stuff like that. There’s things like “I put my link in my bio,” because you can’t put links in through Instagram, so put links in your bio. They can promote it like that, take a couple of days to post things about it to promote it.

A lot of times, it’s just the first thing that comes up when people look up what they want to. Like if you type in a couple of key words in Google, the first article they see is the one they’re going to click, so that’s part of it.

But really through social media — my friends don’t really read articles. I obviously read  articles because I’m on Twitter and I follow a lot of journalists, but I don’t know if my friends do.

How much live video do you guys consume? We hear a lot about Periscope, Facebook Live, even Instagram Live Stories, and then obviously people are super into YouTube. How much video do you feel you and your friends watch?

YouTube — a lot. A lot of YouTube vloggers and stuff like that. Instagram Live is big — we watch a lot of comedians we like or athletes we like on that.

I watch a lot of Periscope because there are a lot of sports journalists that have shows on Periscope that air at a certain time and I watch those.

I don’t know so much about Facebook Live or anything about that because no one is on Facebook, but definitely a lot of YouTube and a lot of Instagram Live.

In general, there’s a war going on somewhat between Instagram and their Stories and Snapchat Stories. What do you and your friends prefer in general?

Snapchat Stories, because it’s what everybody has been doing. I’ve noticed that the people who use Instagram Stories the most are adults who don’t have Snapchat because it never reached them. So if we’re gonna post something on our story, we’re gonna post it on Snapchat because it’s easier.

Even though I’m private on Instagram and nobody can see my story unless I let them follow me, I get to pick and choose who I can select to not show my story to (on Snapchat). So it comes easier like that and it’s like muscle memory; you just click Snapchat and take the first video you see.

That’s interesting, because I think people are trying to get on the Instagram Stories bandwagon — but that might not be a very good move if they’re trying to reach younger people, because younger people are sticking with Snapchat. They’re loyal to Snapchat and it seems like they’re probably not going anywhere.

No, I’m definitely not (going anywhere). I love Snapchat. I love the Stories, I love the geo-filters and stuff you can add to Stories.

Instagram Stories are OK. I’ll watch a few, but I follow over 500 people. Obviously, 500 people aren’t posting on their Instagram Stories, but it’s over 100 or 200 people, so I don’t watch all of them because I only see the top in my bar (above the feed). I think it’s the five most-searched profiles you look at, so I’ll see athletes’ stories that I watch, but I don’t really see anyone else’s. 

One thing that would kind of weird me out about not being on Twitter or Facebook is both are somewhat of a history of what I’ve said or what’s gone on in my life. Snapchat is temporary. I guess your Instagram posts remain in some ways, but they’re not really lifetime achievements or “This is what happened to me on this day.” Are you and your friends not really concerned in general about keeping a log of your life? You don’t mind that it’s erased?

Well Snapchat has their new Memories thing, which I save everything to pretty much — like every picture I take on Snapchat and every video — which is a good log.

And then there’s Timehop, which sends you things from Instagram and sends you things from your camera roll and my Twitter. My friends who are not on Twitter, I don’t think they’re concerned with that because they don’t really post.

I post a lot, but I don’t think a lot of my friends do. They have 20 to 30 posts on Instagram, which isn’t really that much, so I don’t think they’re really concerned on showing everyone what they’re doing.

Do they go back and delete less popular posts on Instagram if they’re like, “This didn’t get a ton of likes, so I’m just going to delete this like it never really happened?”

Absolutely. I do that too. Like if I see a post I don’t like anymore or like a selfie I posted that I don’t really like anymore or I don’t think I look good in it anymore, I’ll just delete it really fast. A couple of my friends only have like 11 posts — the bare minimum, so people know that they’re active on Instagram — delete stuff all the time. They just have a schedule, and they delete their very first post and then post something new just to make a cycle of it and show that they’re active.

Why do you think there’s a disconnect between what adults use and what younger people use? My friends are very Twitter heavy, there’s also a lot of Facebook and Instagram, and then Snapchat for people my age (36) comes in fourth. I love Snapchat, but I don’t get the sense that a ton of people are on it. It’s such a younger people thing. You would think if that is the most popular forum, more and more people would go to it — but there’s such a divide. Do you have a theory on why that is?

It’s in order of when they came out, I think. Facebook and Twitter came around at the same time in the 2002 to 2004 area, and then Instagram and Snapchat didn’t come out until 2012 to 2014 when were starting to get phones, starting to get into social media.

And there’s social media trends I’ve noticed, too. I think adults tend to post a lot — like my mom even posts a lot, and we don’t do that, like I talked about a little bit ago.

Then a new trend that’s going around is that teenagers will have second profiles that are completely private — not under their name, doesn’t say anything about them in the bio — and they’ll post spam and do whatever they want on it and they’ll block their parents and stuff so nobody can really see what they’re doing. It’s called a “finsta,” a “fake Instagram” or a “spam.”

So with your finsta, are you just doing it to just to post whatever you want and only a couple of people know? How does that work?

I don’t do anything bad on my finsta, like I don’t have anything bad to post. Really it’s just screenshots of my Twitter or my fantasy football thing and like me complaining about fantasy football. It’s just so my friends can see it and it’s just so that I have a bigger way of reaching kids at my school and posting things. We’ll do photo challenges, like a May photo challenge where on Day 24, you post the highlight of your day just so your friends can see the highlight of your day without everyone becoming annoyed with you.

So how do you spread the word about your second profile to your friends? Are you just like, “Hey, follow me on here, this is my second thing?”

You just find it. My friends have one, so I’ll go through people that they follow, I’ll follow them. People will follow back. And if you can’t find me, then you can’t find me.

Any final thoughts on where the direction of social media is going in the future? It sounds like from what I’m gathering in this conversation that teens are getting more withdrawn, more private. They’re using social media, but they don’t want to broadcast everything out. It’s not a huge public thing where it’s going to be exposed to everybody; they want to use it just for their core group. Is that basically correct?

Yes, most of the time, unless people have their profiles public and they’ll let people from their school see it. But if I don’t really know you, then I don’t feel the need for you to see the stuff I post — because I post with my location on, you see where I am, you see what I’m doing, the people I hang out with, my mom. So if I don’t know you directly or if I haven’t really interacted with you, then I’ll probably (not share).

On Twitter, it’s a different story because it’s not my face, it’s just my opinions and what’s going on. But on Instagram and Snapchat, it’s a completely different story because it’s what I’m doing and I don’t think that it’s necessary to be publicly broadcasting that.

Is it that you don’t want to be judged?

Sure. Yeah, I don’t want to be judged. But it’s a safety thing. Like things stay on the internet forever whether you delete them or not — so you gotta be careful with stuff like that.

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? 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.

New NASCAR-related Snapchat lens debuts at Talladega

NASCAR has been part of Snapchat’s Live Stories and some tracks have Snapchat geofilters, but there has yet to be a racing-related lens (the feature that changes people’s faces into dogs, bunnies, etc.).

But on Sunday, Snapchat will unveil a NASCAR lens that will be available to fans at every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race going forward.

The lens puts a NASCAR hat on the person snapping, along with glasses and a mustache reminiscent of Dale Earnhardt Sr., with a steering wheel in front of them. When the person makes a facial movement, the lens plays the sound of tires squealing.

By the way, there’s also a Live Story planned for Talladega — so expect to see plenty of this lens on your friends’ snaps from the track.

Here’s a demonstration of the lens, courtesy of NASCAR: