Most NASCAR drivers are very active on social media, and it often provides a way for them to connect with fans before and after races.
Social media has also been used frequently by NASCAR itself, as well as NBC and FOX who broadcast the races. But NASCAR analyst Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer believes the sport might be using social media the wrong way.
Marks credits NASCAR drivers with being open with fans on social media, but he said social media might be hurting the sport during the actual races.
“The problem is when that social media experience starts hurting actual interest in races,” Marks wrote “Why watch 350 laps when you can get Twitter updates at the major points? In some ways, social media is acting as a DVR for fans: alert me to the biggest and best moments so I can tune in, and everything else is white noise.”
Ratings struggled for most of last season, and Marks said the sport needs to find a balance between keeping fans engaged during races and attracting viewers to watch.
“Striking a balance will be key for viewership and fan engagement in 2018, but also the near future,” he said. “Keeping that connection between drivers and fans is key, but so too is making sure people are still watching the races. There’s a way to do both, but the line is a tight one to walk.”
NBC, FOX, and NASCAR all update fans on Twitter about every wreck and every stage win. Fans who are working or who can’t watch the race probably enjoy the updates, but it might cause the casual fan to simply check Twitter for an update rather than watching the actual race.
It’s difficult to find that balance between keeping fans engaged on social media but also getting them to watch. They don’t want to abandon updates on social media, but they’d rather them tune in to races rather than check Twitter every 15 minutes.
NASCAR is probably better than any other sport except for probably the NBA on social media, so it’s tough to label this as a “problem.” But if ratings don’t improve next season, the sport might have to look into addressing how it approaches social media during the races.