After Wetherspoon deleted its social media accounts this week, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether your company really needs to be active on social media. But if yesterday’s blog post didn’t manage to convince you that social media has its uses, maybe today’s can. Formula One is an example of a business that traditionally stayed away from social media, changed its approach and is now reaping the rewards of increased engagement.

By Jennifer Barnes, account executive

Formula One has traditionally had an uneasy relationship with social media. This came to light during an official drivers’ press conference in the 2016-2017 season, where world champion Lewis Hamilton came under fire. Critics commented that Hamilton paid more attention to his phone than the conference, after he was caught playing with Snapchat filters to share with his fans. The move irked the traditional media present at the conference.

Bernie Ecclestone, the former CEO of Formula One has expressed a dismissive view of social media, being quoted as saying “I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is.”

However, in January 2017, new owners Liberty Media removed Ecclestone from power and took a new approach to social media.

It certainly worked for Formula One. The sport was said to have the biggest social media growth of any major sport in 2017. So how did they do it?

The key was to relax the rules, increase transparency and encourage engagement. Previously, filming in the paddock was only allowed for authorised TV broadcasters ─ teams and drivers weren’t allowed to post any short clips from backstage. Not even a Snapchat video, much to the dismay of Hamilton’s followers.

However, under the new approach, at the start of the 2017 season, teams were encouraged to post short videos of their activities on social media. Drivers used the opportunity to post snippets of their day and give fans a glimpse behind the scenes. Throughout the season, Liberty Media also uploaded videos of the previously-unseen drivers briefing, showing a different side to many drivers than when they are faced with a camera or a dictaphone.

While engineering companies may not be able to do an Instagram Live from the cockpit of Hamilton’s car like Mercedes’ Formula One team can, they can certainly learn from the lessons of Formula One.

If you’ve got something exciting going on in your plant, why not do a short Facebook or Instagram Live video? Or if you’ve got a point to prove about the quality of your product, why not create a short video of a day in the life of your quality control inspector?

For traditionalists like Ecclestone, starting out with social media or increasing your social media presence can be daunting. But don’t let that stop you. If you’d like advice on how you could use social media to increase engagement with your business, call us on +44 (0)1785 225416 or e-mail me at jennifer@stonejunction.co.uk.

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