Megan Whiteside is a communications professional who spearheads social media efforts for NASCAR’s 10-time Sprint Cup Series champions, Hendrick Motorsports. In addition to her social media responsibilities, the 27 year old manages the communications program around up-and-coming NASCAR driver Chase Elliott.
Megan will be making a social media pit stop at the SMB Social Media Makeover Forum on May 8th to provide a view into one of the most widely recognized brands in NASCAR. Hendrick Motorsports has over 400,000 fans on Facebook page and more than 80,000 followers on Twitter.
You work for one of the most recognizable names in the extremely popular world of NASCAR. What’s it like managing a Facebook page with over 400,000 likes, a Twitter page with over 81,000 followers as well as a Pinterest account?
It’s a really fun way to engage with our fans on a daily basis. We have four of the most popular and recognizable athletes in professional sports. NASCAR fans love watching their favorite drivers drive 200 mph around a racetrack, and the reason why the sport is so successful is because of the fans. With that, there’s an expectation to be met and that’s providing them with exclusive content and relevant driver/team news on a daily basis. Fans are the reason why we are here so we understand how important it is to reward them for their loyalty and we are able to do this through our social media.
In addition to that, our fans enjoy voicing their opinions and being a part of our team, so we embrace that and find ways to engage with them regularly, whether through Twitter giveaways, trivia, Fan Photo of the Week or simply responding to their questions and tweets.
What do you think a small business can learn from your experience?
It’s important to have a strategy for social media that fits their business and brand. In an effort to implement a strategy, it’s important that research is considered to help shape a plan, better understand the audience and remove much of the guesswork. Then once you get started, use research to help keep you going in the right direction.
Something we think is universal is using social media as a listening and engagement tool. If a fan has a question or complaint, we do our best to address it. If the audience provides feedback on content, then listen. They have great ideas.
Remember to have fun with social media and to not be afraid to experiment. Once you’ve taken the time to research, plan and develop a social media strategy that best fits your brand, don’t get too caught up in the day to day. Play around with different ideas that can help further goals, engage the audience and fit the brand. Some things will work and some will not. But you never know until you try it out.
How do you translate the excitement of NASCAR to your social media channels?
Our industry is fast-paced, and each weekend we’re at a different racetrack across the country. With that in mind, we recognize the demand to provide our fans with exclusive, behind-the-scenes content and relevant information on a daily basis because that is what they are looking for. This way, they are kept in the loop and we want them to feel like they are a part of our team. During a race weekend, fans love to see what’s going on at the track and all the excitement that goes on there. Through photos and informative behind-the-scenes information, we are able to deliver the excitement through our social media to the race fans that might not be at the track.
In addition to that exclusive content, we also engage with our fan base through fun Twitter giveaways on a regular basis. Everyone loves winning free stuff especially when it’s signed by our Hendrick Motorsports drivers. For us, this is an easy way to reward our loyal fans, and it creates excitement for them.
What is the secret to managing a successful social media presence?
Having a strategy and understanding your audience. You have to ask yourself several things. How should our organization leverage social? What content do our fans and followers want? How often will we be able to deliver content? What kind of experience does our audience expect, and what kind do we want to provide? Do we have the resources to support our plan? And how do we accomplish our goals while being authentic and true to the brand?
It’s extremely important to have a “brand voice” that fits. The brand shouldn’t take on the personality of the social media manager. That person must be a brand expert and steward with an understanding of the company culture and appropriate tone of communication. To be successful, social media must be more than just tactical.
Every business is different. Realistically, there is not one “right” way to manage a social media presence successfully. It’s not necessarily all about delivering content. It’s more about having a plan that best fits your goals and brand. Some use social for customer service. Others use it to sell products. Some use it as more of an engagement tool. Once you understand your brand and its audience, it’s a lot easier to implement a successful social media presence that works with your objectives.