Digital Media Cafe 29th October: Featuring Formula One, Weibo & Golden State Warriors and Sportlobster – David Granger

October 29, 2014

Austin Grand Prix: Digital Lessons for All

Formula One has had another challenging week in another season of challenging weeks.

The announcement that neither Marussia, nor Caterham would be running cars at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix is a blow to the sport – and also to the America fans who deserve better from F1.

Never the best of bedfellows, things changed with the unveiling of the Circuit of the Americas three seasons ago, and with it came a renewed, reinvigorated interest in a sport which traditionally played second or even third fiddle to the indigenous oval racing.

While it would be stretching the point to claim that social media and digital platforms transformed the perception of Formula One in the US, they certainly helped.

As did the host city. Austin is city which, like Montreal, Melbourne or for those with longer memories Adelaide or Buenos Aries welcomed teams, fans, drivers and sponsors with great nightlife and off-track entertainment as well as the racing.

And a third party has done much to help engender this spirit The Austin Grand Prix as it proudly proclaims on its website has no affiliation to the FIA, Formula One Management, or the Circuit of The Americas but it does exist to bridge the gap between Austinites and F1 fans worldwide to welcome the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

So it’s independent, it works across multiple digital platforms and social channels to bring the inside story of the city and the racing together and it’s now hosting events to bring the offline full circle and be part of the whole weekend.

If ever you needed evidence that digital and social media are doing great things for sport, and doing so in an arena independent of the sports governing bodies or rights-holders, then check out the Austin Grand Prix website and associated social platforms over this weekend.

They’re very social in Texas when it comes to motorsport, and a few official bodies could learn some valuable lessons from what Austin Grand Prix founders Kerri and Kevin Olsen are doing.

Weibo Warriors: Taking the NBA on to new channels

The array of social platforms available mean occasionally you have to wave goodbye to old friends (that’s you Flickr) and say hello to new ones – in the case of the Golden State Warriors that’s been with the Chinese based platform Weibo.

Just over a year ago they were one of the first NBA teams to join the community and they now have more than a million followers.

Their signing up was just before the NBA Global Games in Beijing and Shanghai which makes sense as does fact that their home city of San Francisco has the highest concentration of Chinese-Americans in the United States.

So Weibo means they not only can converse with the fans in the Bay Area, but also potential new fans in China itself.

It’s no lip service, either – it’s an active engagement when they hosted a Q&A session with All-Star guard Stephen Curry it got had more than 2.6 million impressions and 3,500 questions in just one day.

Clearly Weibo is never going to be for every club or indeed every sport but the Warriors strategy is demonstration that occasionally thinking outside the traditional social channels can be beneficial. We’ll have links to their Weibo channel on this week’s blog.

Getting It Right: Sportlobster on Twitter

There’s been – rightly so – a lot of criticism of the banter between football clubs recently. It’s rarely funny, it’s often mis-timed and frequently contradicts the team’s overall communications tone.

But one channel which is getting its tone and the balance of information and entertainment just right is the Sportlobster Twitter account.

The official channel of the sports social network, it manages to retain a sense of humour, a sense of history and context and brings you sports news as well.

It’s nicely done with a great turn of phrase and a great advert for the app. If you follow one new feed this week, make sure it’s Sportlobster

Having spent eight seasons in Formula One managing the digital channels for world champions Red Bull Racing, David Granger now runs Fact 51, a social and digital content agency.

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