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SMITH: Formula E’s Audience Connection, Pt. 1

E-racing365 Formula E editor Sam Smith looks at how the championship has tapped in to a new audience and developed a distinctive connection with its fans…

Photo: Formula E

Why is Formula E’s Social Media fan interaction flourishing so much? In the first of a two-part feature, e-racing365 Formula E Editor Sam Smith looks at how the championship has tapped in to a new audience and developed a distinctive connection with its fans.

It’s a pre-requisite of the modern racing entity. You need good and inventive social media output to engage both existing and future followers.

It never ceases to amaze me how poor some businesses are at achieving the bare minimum in this field. The ones at the bottom of the pile could do worse than to just soak-up what Formula E is doing at present.

Taking a giant leaf out of the official Formula E social media platforms, specifically on how to build an audience, and a happy audience at that, is an ideal place to begin.

The official channels are setting fresh standards in engaging with its audience, whether they be hard-line racing fanatics discovering a new strand of motorsport, or what is considered the ‘holy grail’ of media content captures, the completely new enthusiast who has stumbled across or has been recommended the product.

These ‘new eyes’ are hard to find but indications are that Formula E is leading the way in locating them. It’s part of the series’ modus operandi to seek them out and they appear to be succeeding.

Series boss Alejandro Agag certainly thinks so.

“We want to make Season Four for the audience, we want it to be their season – to grow the product , to grow our viewership, to show the championship to more people,” he said.

“In Season Four we will need a big push from the commercial rights holder. The viewership, reach of the championship, TV, online – everywhere we’ve invested a lot of money, a lot of resources.

“The shareholders are extremely bullish about how the championship is going.”

And so they should be. But in sports you never rest on laurels, especially in something as fast paced as motorsports.

As leisure time gets more expansive, with multiple options in how we spend our downtime, traditional sports and the way its consumed is changing beyond recognition.

This, and the fact that social mobility and transportation gets ever more efficient and autonomous, means that motorsports will have to fight even harder to keep and then expand a fan base beyond the current generations.

The term ‘petrolhead’ will become a thing of the past. New colloquialisms will form.

I love Lola T70s and Porsche 917s as much as the next person. My ears still occasionally hum to the tune of Judd V10s and Ferrari V12s from years gone by, but that was yesterday.

It’s fine to look back. Nostalgia is warm and comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t pay the bills or stir creativity.

I wouldn’t change my childhood and teenage years for anything (well, maybe just that embarrassing love letter to Laura Outhart when I was 13!) but times change.

This, the most technically advanced and progressive sport in the world, has to help lead that change.

I spent a lot of my youth, too much if you ask my teachers, standing on grassy banks at Oulton Park with my Dad and my marmite sandwiches, writing reports for my rag of a scrapbook. A sad vision, I grant you!

But, it is a memory which will become extinct in years to come. This is because new generations just don’t want to do that. They want a different experience and they want to interact with. But most of all they want to be part of it, and in real time.

Therefore, the expansion of social media and virtual reality will become such that actually attending some events will be almost passé.

This is one of the contributing reasons why Formula E targets the majority of their races to take place bang in the middle of the world’s major cosmopolitan city center.

Muddy grass banks and concrete terraces or glitzy downtown Hong Kong and Paris? I know where my money is placed for the next generations to invest their money and time.

In Part 2 tomorrow, we look at the specifics of Formula E’s media strategy and some of the examples of how it has filtered through to non-specialist racing medias.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for from 2014-17. Contact Sam

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Old Trombone

    December 16, 2017 at 11:33 am

    I was engaged on a US web-based car racing site until FE came along. That site had comments, and commenters seemed fairly normal. “Hammy is slow”, “Nico loves Toto” and “Stroll is better than you think stupid trombone” type stuff, all fine.

    Then FE got a few articles in. Commenters were unanimous. “Stupid triggered snowflake Hillarlovers how dare electric racing get married in my damn churc … circuit!!!“

    I wrote to their HQ, and on their pages, to MOD the luddites. I got no reply on the pages, and the HQ reply was “mod it yourself”. I then notified the site and asked for some of the ridiculous misogynistic/racist/insulting stuff (remember, only on this site’s FE pages did these political attacks occur) and not one of my notices was modded.

    Then I’m watching Montreal’s wrap up on YT, and (I think it’s) Jack Nicholls says “Introducing Sam Smith from E-R365” and I said to myself “Hally freakn luya” somewhere I can go to read with good people instead of dinosaur-brained cavemen. I love IMSA and ICE, they have their place, mostly 95% of car pollution is by Corolla and Cruze drivers in traffic jams, so motor sport isn’t that much of a problem for me, but the idiot comments shaming and Charlottesvillianizing e-racers were just outrageous.

    So now I come here to ER365. And while I was here I discovered Sportscar365. I wrote on an FE page on the other site about ER365, and one of their very best commenters of all time said he would join us here, and I bet many others too.

    All that site had to do was be polite. Over here, it’s more than polite, it’s freakn enthusiasm! Thanks ER365!

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