Car Town Facebook NASCAR Sprint 1Race Menu e1321020125141 NASCAR Adds Gaming to Spice Up Social StrategyNASCAR is known for its strong presence in the social media community. With multiple Facebook and Twitter pages, NASCAR has been able to successfully segment and engage its 75 million fans through social networking.

Many of the top drivers and sponsors in the sport are equally engaged in social media. NASCAR’s official partner, 3M, has a Twitter and Facebook page that updates fans on NASCAR events. In addition, drivers like Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick all have Twitter feeds that they regularly update to stay in touch with fans.

To further extend its reach, NASCAR intuitively capitalized on the 800+ million users on Facebook and created a social gaming experience. Joining the likes of Farmville, Mafia Wars and Cafe World, NASCAR created the NASCAR Pro Championship presented by Sprint campaign to cross-promote their Sprint Cup Series this month. The campaign also provided a way for NASCAR to easily attract a younger demographic, as the largest amount of users on Facebook are between the ages of 18 and 25.

NASCAR’s partnership with Sprint on the first-ever NASCAR social gaming experience for fans was announced in June of this year. The game was featured within Car Town, the largest automotive and motorsports game on Facebook, and was available from late June to the beginning of November.

The game was free for users and provided a virtual outlet for NASCAR fans on Facebook to experience the art of racing. Fans could socialize the game by racing against friends and completing challenges to earn virtual rewards such as sponsorships and trophies.

NASCAR also offered an additional incentive for playing by distributing special codes during the on-air coverage of the Sprint Cup Series. These codes gave fans an opportunity to win prizes while playing the online game. The codes also acted as a connection from the virtual fans to the live Sprint Cup Series.

As a sponsor, Sprint heavily integrated their branding into the game. Many of the vehicles, track entrances, victory lanes and leader-boards displayed the Sprint logo.

Car Town, the developers of the game, was no stranger to brand integration. In addition to its NASCAR Pro Championship presented by Sprint, they have featured cars made by well-known brands such as BMW, Subaru and GMC.

The timing and release of the NASCAR Pro Championship presented by Sprint was strategic and reached its goal of engaging a younger crowd to NASCAR, in addition to generating buzz surrounding the Sprint Cup Series.

NASCAR did an excellent job catering a social solution to engage a younger fan base. However, to further capitalize on the success of the game, NASCAR should continue their social gaming campaign around every major race in the future. In addition, there were some missteps around the promotion of the game.

The majority of the news coverage surrounding the game was dated the day of the NASCAR.com announcement on June 13, 2011. To continue drawing attention to the game, NASCAR should use other social tactics – such as an official hashtag on Twitter – to give fans an additional outlet to discuss playing the game. NASCAR should also post about the game more frequently on Facebook.

During the five-month span the game was live, NASCAR only posted three times about the game on its Facebook page, and all of those posts were in the month of June. By increasing the number of promotional posts, more attention will be drawn to the game and ultimately increase the number of users.

Creating the NASCAR Pro Championship presented by Sprint was a step in the right direction; the game increased NASCAR’s exposure and provided a platform to connect their younger fan base to the live event the campaign was centered around. There’s room for growth, but this is a nice start. Campaigns like this will continue to market NASCAR to an important demographic, while also giving added exposure to valuable sponsors.

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