How Twitter won the Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 FINALLY happened last night. And, thanks to a little love from mother nature and an eight foot wall of fire, Twitter won this year’s Daytona 500 and ended up taking the victory lap in our timelines.

It all started, as it always does, with one tweet. Namely, Brad Keselowski’s in-car Twitpic of the huge fire after Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a service truck that contained jet fuel. This started a chain of events that led many of the drivers to step outside of their cars, hang out and talk to each other!

If that wasn’t crazy enough, somehow Keselowski was keeping everyone updated throughout the entire stoppage, during which time he amassed more than 100,000 new Twitter followers.

As all this was taking place, the clean-up crews threw down a mix of fuel absorbent, bondo, water and Tide. Yes, Tide. The announcers made quick reference to Tide, Twitter blew up and the serial tweeters started to monitor the Twitter feeds to see how Tide would step up.

In short, they didn’t. I noticed they hadn’t tweeted in hours or before the start of the race. I wasn’t the only one who noticed; within minutes of this realization, the blog wizard, Mack Collier, posted about the “hails and fails” during the race.

Taking a look back just one year ago I wrote a blog called, “I Can Make You a Celebrity Overnight”(thanks, Kanye) and discussed how two up and comers, Esperanza Spalding and Trevor Bayne, had made significant social jumps because of their mainstream appearances. Today is no different.

Brad Keselowski’s Twitter activity boosted him close to 100,000 fans from red flag to checkered flag, while @Tide was nowhere to be found. Seriously, P&G pushes #tidepower and they missed out on capitalizing on how they cleaned up an entire race. Someone’s ears are hot this morning.

It’s funny that almost exactly one year ago I sat in front of the Daytona Speedway’s head of marketing and said “you know you need to get on Twitter a lot more and use these hashtags…they’re going to be big.”

He walked out of our office and never came back…

This made for some great conversation online, as Tide’s washout gave way to some great Twitter banter between myself, Amy Howell, Mack Collier, Tim McGugan, and Megan (@Skeetle, because I didn’t know your last name Megan!) Here are some of the highlights:

Twitter has got to be buzzing this morning. From someone who lives and works in social media in the southeastern U.S., this is big. There isn’t a huge “NASCAR-first crowd” who are also active Twitter users. The Daytona 500 served as a kick-off to get a new demographic engaged and tweeting.

So what deal did Jack and Biz make with the Southern Devils to turn NASCAR into a weekend long demo of Twitter? You got me.

To recap:

  • If you’re running a MAJOR brand in the social media space, you always need to be ready to work. Your customers don’t limit their online engagement to the hours of 9-5, and you’d be a fool if you allow your communications to run on that same schedule.
  • Twitter is the best social media channel because of its real time, short form nature.
  • I lived in Daytona Beach, the mecca of NASCAR, for a year and thanks to Twitter, I spent more time genuinely interested in NASCAR this week than I did in the entire year I spent there.

Thanks Twitter, NASCAR and the town that will always have a special place in my heart, Daytona Beach.

UPDATE: Since this morning, the folks behind the @Tide account have started a tweeting frenzy retweeting all of the folks who made mentions last night. As of 10 a.m., they hadn’t retweeted any of our posts 😉

Originally posted on the On Ideas Blog

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