Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, but when it comes to innovative social media it’s Formula E that takes top spot. Will F1 ever catch up?
In 2014, a completely new motorsport series was founded, the likes of which had never seen before. Formula E: the world’s first all-electric single seater championship.
It certainly had its doubters: ‘it’s not proper motorsport’ and ‘it’s full-size Scalextric racing’, screamed the ‘traditional’ motorsport community. Formula E, though, was looking firmly to the future, and targeted an audience that did the same. They were going after the fans of tomorrow: millennials and generation Y.
To do that, they had to take to social media in a big way, and what they have achieved through this medium has been described by some as revolutionary. To give you an idea of the audience they were beginning to attract, in the first season alone they recorded 5.2 billion impressions on social media. Then the first three races of Season Two, combined, garnered 1.45 billion impressions.
They have constantly been at the cutting-edge of social media, driving engagement with amazing content like the Damian Walters ‘Leap of Faith’ backflip in 360 (watch it below), and live streaming every race on Facebook.
They even have their own eSports series, but the icing on the cake is probably ‘Fan Boost’ – an online voting system through which fans can vote (using #FanBoost) for their favourite driver to receive an extra power boost during the race.
At around the same time Formula E was established, Formula One, the pinnacle of motorsport, was slow to embrace social media, despite a considerable reduction in TV audiences since 2008. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone wanted to limit the amount of social media in the paddock, and was famously quoted as saying: "I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is. I couldn’t see any value in it. The challenge is getting the audience in the first place."
To be fair, he is 86...
The turning point was in January 2017, when F1 was taken over by Liberty Media – and one of the first things they introduced was a relaxation of social media rules, encouraging drivers and teams to post short video clips.
It has certainly helped to make F1 more accessible, but their content and social media is still far from cutting-edge.
So, can Formula One catch up with Formula E in the social media race? The answer is undoubtedly yes – it’s one of the richest, most technologically advanced sports in the world. But, considering F1 has a significantly bigger following than Formula E, the real issue is whether the sport has the incentive.
It just goes to show that starting afresh with a new concept can be advantageous. Formula E had no precedents to follow, and this allowed them to really push the limits of what is possible on social media – electrifying millions around the globe. If you’re running a start-up business, or marketing a product that’s innovative and new, be brave and be bold, because there’s nothing holding you back.
Matt Upton is a Copywriter at Cubaka.
Matt Upton is a simple beast: he likes cars, writing great copy and Leicester Tigers. Occasionally, he also likes people to think he knows what he’s talking about, but only occasionally. You can follow him (if you can be bothered) at @MattUpton.