IndyCar trailing far behind NASCAR, F1 in social media outreach

June 19, 2013
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IndyCar Series executives have their hands full trying to bolster the all-important live attendance and television viewership numbers that drive sponsors to be a part of their series.

But there’s another set of numbers to be concerned about, and it clearly has the attention of sponsors.

Twice in the last month, I’ve gotten newsletters from prominent firms representing sports sponsors listing the social media following of the major auto racing series. The numbers don’t lie. And for IndyCar, the numbers aren’t particularly good.

In terms of Twitter followers, NASCAR is king, with more than 1.1 million as of Tuesday morning. Formula One’s official Twitter account has a tick under 538,000. The IndyCar Series has just short of 92,000.

Formula One has built its large following with just over 5,000 tweets, compared with the IndyCar Series’ 21,700. NASCAR has more than 37,000.

In terms of individual drivers—with the exception of 2013 Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan, IndyCar doesn’t stack up much better.

Kanaan, popular long before he won Indy, has more than 606,000 Twitter followers. The affable Brazilian IndyCar driver has more than any NASCAR driver with the exception of Danica Patrick, who has almost 919,000, and Juan Pablo Montoya with 745,000. Ironically, the two top NASCAR drivers in terms of Twitter followers have their roots in IndyCar. I’m sure those two drivers are assets IndyCar executives would like to have back.

The other top NASCAR drivers are Jimmie Johnson, with more than 436,000 followers; Jeff Gordon, with almost 419,000; and 2012 series champ Brad Keselowski, with more than 417,000.

There’s a big drop-off among IndyCar drivers after Kanaan. Rounding out the top three for IndyCar are Dario Franchitti, with almost 98,200 followers; and Helio Castroneves, with almost 87,500. The other top full-time IndyCar drivers have well below 75,000, and most are under 50,000.

There is one exception. Part-time IndyCar (and part-time NASCAR) driver A.J. Allmendinger has more than 109,000 followers. But it's safe to say many of those are NASCAR fans, so I don't lump him in with full-time IndyCar drivers just yet. Of course, you could argue, too, that many of Patrick's and Montoya's Twitter flock followed them because of their open-wheel roots.

With its massive global reach, F1 drivers dwarf NASCAR and IndyCar drivers combined. The top three F1 drivers in terms of Twitter followers are Fernando Alonso, with 1.7 million-plus; Lewis Hamilton, with nearly 1.6 million; and Jenson Button, with 1.5 million and counting. All this success comes without F1 phenom and 2013 points leader Sebastian Vettel being active on Twitter. Maybe F1 is so big, it doesn't need to take advantage of all its assets. But I think most sports marketers would agree, Vettel's lack of a Twitter presence is a major lost opportunity for the driver and the sport.

While Twitter is the major driver these days in terms of social media outreach and connecting with fans through cyberspace, Facebook still remains an important opportunity for sports properties. These numbers are equally distressing for IndyCar.

On Facebook, IndyCar has almost 148,000 likes, compared to NASCAR’s 3.4 million-plus. Formula One, inexplicably, isn’t active with an official Facebook page. Chalk up another lost opportunity for the world's biggest motorsports circuit.

Sponsors—and those firms representing them—are increasingly aware of social media data. Some are concluding that a sports property’s cyber-following is just as important as TV viewership and live attendance. More sponsorship spending decisions are based at least in part on those numbers, according to sports marketers.

IndyCar’s Twitter and Facebook fan following is another set of numbers Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles must boost to assure the series’ survival.

  • Futility and BEYOND! are being too hard on the IRL again. CARTOWN was supposed to take care of social media. AND it has a CART in it. PffffT. Or was it the California office? Or was it iZOD? Or Hunter-Reay? Or zip-lines? Or the Super bowl...tie-ins? Or the $800Million? or the 2008 merger? Or the race video streaming on the un-navigatable Or the DIRECT TV sponsorship? Or was it Rachels Pototo chips with a HYDROXYCUT chaser? Or was it the 350% ROI by iZod? MARK MILES...take a year off while you craft the apology. Another year(s) of futility won't matter. Also, while you are dreaming up the next Jimmy Connors let me remind you Chris Evert is still hot, Indy is not. I want that apology on my desk first thing Friday morning. And Miles....DON'T skimp on the details. Michael Knight is a wise man, don't question the logic because it is sound.
  • Right On Cue
    How long will it be before your three grade school pals emerge like moths to a flame? LOL
  • Indycar is DEAD
    Face it my good friend....Indycar is DEAD. PLUS, you didn't have to give the Boston Consulting Group $1.2 Million to find that out. It's three weeks out from the great Indy 500 and there is no visible sign anywhere of the SeaBiscuit of AOW. Actually, that is a sleight to SeaBiscuit. Indycar is the Zippy Chippy of AOW...or OW in the ENTIRE Universe. The Beatles made a song about the IRL/IRLCarz...I'm a Loser (and I'm not what I appear to be). Mark Miles favorite song.
    • Milwaukee TV Ratings
      Don't exist....why you ask? Because no one watched. 196,000 watched nationwide and about 10,000 were in the grandstands. SOLID. A solid 0.10 if we round down. Right in the meaty part of the curve. I'm sure Defender/Dipsicle will chime in with his boilerplate,,,,,but seriously Mark are doing a great job. 0.10 is an achievement, my hat is off to you...all of you at 16th and Jonestown. Keep it up....and ignore the trends, they are meaningless. Bwahahahaha.
    • The Vision
      Thank You Tony George For Your Vision!!! Your Vision Blinded Fans And Sponsors.....And Then Your Group Fires Randy Bernard The Only Man I Would Like To Thank For At Least Putting Indy Car On The Radar..
    • Thanks
      Thank you for mentioning the Twitter and Facebook presences. I had not thought, until today, to look for those.
    • Work cut out for Mark Miles
      I know from working in an ad agency the last 7 years just how important engagement through Twitter and Facebook has become. I can tell you the IndyCar's numbers will be a serious turnoff and an even bigger turnoff in the future as these metrics become increasingly important. The motorsports market in particular is one that is really engaged online and with social media, so Mark Miles really needs to get it in gear. There are some proven ways to get these numbers up, and I don't see Miles or anyone at IndyCar addressing these things. This is the time for visionary thinking.
    • visionary
      All they had to do was open the gates and collect the money. they even screwed that up. Not quite sure how they're gonna do it as they're probably on dial-up with a Commodore Amiga 500's on their desks over there at the speed plant. They are real visionaires over at the speedway alrright. backwards as Forest Gump.
    • IndyCar trailing far behind NASCAR, F1
      in everything that matters. The only things the H/G clan and .1rl can claim to be better at are driving fans of motorsport away from their series and losing the most money for the owners of the series. I'm sure in the Bizarro world of the .1rl, that means they really win though...
    • Missedwuakee
      Hey Dispicable of IndyCar, how do you explain this one: The Legendary Milwaukee Mile with AT MOST, 25,000 in the stands. And, AT BEST, a 0.14 TV rating. Soooooo....between those in attendance and the television audience, I would have to say in the neighborhood of 225,000 people, TOPS, witnessed the Missedwaukee IndyMess. In a nation of over 300 million people. Oh wait, wait, wait...tell us...there are a "hidden" tens of thousands following on-line. AND there must have been a dozen Whackforum Gomers who tuned into the IMSRN to listen to Mike King and what's-his-bucket, the guy who yells into the mic kinda like Mike, so there are 12 more fans. So I am sayin', the IndyFarce Series has 'em 225,012 fans. What say you, Discpicable? KInda makes you want to drown your sorrows in Hydroxycrap.
    • Breaking News: Indy Lights Pffft...
      Indystar is reporting the IMS bored is giving up the Indy Lights Series because the current management blew it. 8 cars in the series...Another great kudos to Mark Miles great organization on running a sound business directly into the ground. can you not conclude this is the poorest run business in the world? The future of AOW rests in the hands of these genius failures. First the IRL, now Indy Lights. Thank god SCCA has the Atlantics now...or the speedway woulda killed them too. They tried...The Road to Indy is nothing but a JOKE. Prove me wrong...anybody?
    • Road To Ruin
      The Indy Lights Out Series is not needed as a "support" series or so-called "feeder series" any longer because there is nothing to feed. The big cars are next. With only 225,000 fans in America and .10 to 0.14 TV ratings of late, there is no amount of Hydroxycrap you can pour on the Sonny's BBQ Sauce to jumpstart a dead DW 12. Call it done after the 2013 Season. How much is the H-G clan willing to lose? Could they get real jobs if it is all gone?
    • Lets recap
      Indy 500, smallest attendance, lowest TV ratings since LIVE TV allowed in 1986. Texas, lowest attendance, dull race, primetime TV loser on Saturday night. Double races in Detroit...0.7 and .8 on ABC. Milwaukee, little attendnace, TV ratings under 0.10. Indy Lights series is a failure under the IMS control. Penske caught cheating. Indycar is ugly. NBCSN contract locked in for the next decade. ABC locked in with the worst TV announce crew in history. Dallara DW12 locked until 2016. No body kits until 2015 earliest. Ovals not paying sanction fees. No social media buzz. Forums clamouring for IMS to get out of the AOW business. Champion drivers saying the car is slow and unattractive. Things are looking up. Bwahahahhahha!
    • Needs More Pippa
      Enough said.
    • I'm Glad Someone was Paying Attention
      I totally missed the IRL Slugfest at the Mile last weekend. I get a feeling the Orkin man will be busy soon, and Key Liquidators too.
    • Izod
      When the main sponsor Izod distances themselves and when the beautiful Izod Trophy girl "Cameron" has already dissipated, what is there to talk about? Social media for this series is supported by the six or so bloggers who think they dominate the conversation. Social Media is the new standard for success and the Indycar Kingdom has failed to meet the standard. No real remedy there. Social Media Folk are way ahead and beyond the Kingdom-speak.
      • Social Media Question
        How is the Kingdom, my liege?
      • Pippa to Kingdom
        If Pippa landed something at Kingdom Racing the series might have a chance.
        • LoL
          Milka Duno would be a better choice but you know, it is what it is.
        • NBCSN: Indycar beaten by Larry Dahlburg's "Hunt for Big Fish"
          This is quite an accomplishment. Trackforem has a link to TV ratings for last weekend and Indycar tied Hunt for Big Fish for 12th place on Saturday on NBCSN. That guy is probably using an iPod to record his stuff and whipping Izodcarz butt! Too funny!
        • The IRL News
          just gets better and better
        • Research, research
          Anyone know the engagement level of INDYCAR's Facebook or Twitter page? Impressions? Influence? Klout? They're fantastic. I've been following INDYCAR's social media efforts for quite a while now. In the past two years, their numbers have more than TRIPLED. Do the numbers need to grow? Absolutely. But if the sheer amount of their followers is what you think matters in social media, you shouldn't be writing about social media.
        • Less is more
          96K is grater than 1MILLION. Because the engagement level is higher? They're fantastic? How so? If they had no presence would they be able to beat Larry Dahlburg? Friend,...this is an ICONIC 100+ year old institution with a long and storied legacy. And they can only muster 96K followers? You've proven another point...Facebook's CARTOWN link with Indycar is a complete failure OR IMS are dunces when social media is associated. Failure any and either way you look at it.
        • It's easy to triple
        • You can bet...
          ...your sweet Pippa the league will now go into a social media frenzy. Once Anthony wrote the driver's were not mentioning sponsors (what there are of of them) enough, everyone started sponsorboting. Now we are sure to see a Twitter War between some of the girls in the series like say, Pippa and Graham, maybe Marco. Since the Mayor of Hinchtown is not getting 'er done apparently, maybe they can have a Governor of Kanaan or a Prince of Pagenaud deal set up. They also need to get Scott whistlin' Dixie on some kind of You Tube thing or Skype or whatever it is the kids are all doing these days beside not watching Indy Car.
        • The IRL should be on
          the Comedy channel
        • I bet Mike Kelly
          could get another 350% ROI if he started spanwsering Hunt for Big Fish
        • Does Tweeting Count For Social Media?
          Jenna Fryer, legendary AP sportwriter/tweeter and the PressDog and Trackforum...the official indycar recommended internet forum...all represent social media access for the Speedway, right? Where do you think we get all our info from? Jenna and PDog tweet the horrible TV ratings...and Trackforem fills in the rest. Even Paul Tracy tweets about the IRL much it sucks. This social medai is commanded by IMS. Great work Mark Miles, the internet is spreading the message after all.
        • ACKshully
          pdog has stopped mentioning anything related to TV numbers. Reality and all that stuff.
        • IBJ too
          The IBJ quit mentioning TV ratings years ago. Oh, except for NASCAR Brickyard TV ratings. For them, they apparently have a Neilsen subscription for...LOL. Speaking of which, ANTHONY, can you followup on how well the Speedway did with the promotion of the hot topics you mentioned before May began? You know, Sato and Daly and Vaultier etc? I can't remember EVER seeing or hearing their names. Another failure.
        • The Title Sponsor's Trackside Spokesmodel
          hasn't tweeted from a track in 13 months
        • I seen Mario Andretti
          riding a freaking snail the other day. No not one of the Darallas.
        • This is funny
          Apparently Indycars website had wrong dates for some TV race broadcasts. They got this social media thing down pat.... LOL. Gotta be worst website in history.
        • the ratings get leaked, even if IMS wants them buried
          "Jenna Fryer ‏@JennaFryer 17m #IndyCar overnight from Iowa: 0.7 ... Head-to-head with #NASCAR was outrageously stupid."_____________________________________It's the .1rl, Jenna. They have outrageously stupid down to a T. :lol: As if NASCAR being on at a different time would make a stich of difference. Nobody wants the clown car league apart from the H/G clan and 200K place fans in Indiana. They built it all to destroy and they done it but good!
        • And According to Chief
          you can't fix stupid
        • Mark Miles sez Indycar ain't sustainable
          I was reading the Indycar Series' official forum called trackforum and there was a guy who spoke with Mark Miles at Milwaukee and Mark told him the Indycar's aren't sustainable and need the rest of Hulman Co. to pitch in with more checks to reach Miles' vision. Or else I guess....$800+ Million hasn't been enough, huh? I must say, some Indycar owners sure look like they are getting fed regularly. IMS surely must be getting their money's worth with all the 0.7's and 0.14's ratings on TV. OH, by the way Mark Miles, I didn't see that apology on my desk first thing this AM. Apparently Mark also sez he's busy on 2014 marketing plans and 2013 is peachy...going along gangbusters! No changes needed....who'da thunk that?
        • Between the lines
          NASCAR at Sonoma this past weekend delivered a 3.0 TV rating...on TNT, at a road course. The Indycars were at IOWA oval and delivered a 0.7 on an over-the-air network ABC, in a broadcast not directly starting against a NASCAR race. I'm hearing 24% less TV viewership in 2013 for the Indycar overall, Indy had lowest TV ratings since H-G family permitted live TV back in the the 80's. ICONIC blunder with the DW12....looks count. The IC02, as dangerous, expensive and repulsive as it was is looked upon as breathtaking today as compared to the DW12. Did the Boston Consulting study mention this? Who is running this series? Sponsors are running away because no one listens.....
        • When will America run out of stupid
          people who think they can make the IRl popular?
        • Trending down?
          FYI...The IRL/Indycarz TV ratings have been trending down in recent years. DOWN 27% from 2011 to 2012, DOWN 24% 2012 to 2013. What's happening? Yet, the series claims better on-track action...hmmm. What could be causing this phenomenom? Coincidently, 2012 is when the UGLY semi-open wheeled DW12 started being used. Hmmmm....makes ya wonder. First the world shunned the IRL for it's disasterous effects....THEN the unified Indycar...NOW it's the unified and UGLY DW12!!! I could simply conclude the ICONIC meddling the Speedway did with the DNA of the sport has turned fans away. Geez, just get a YOUTUBE channel and get it over with already. Why is this all happening? BCG report? Is there anything in there? $1.2 million for nothing...just inaction by the H-G clan. Unsustainable indeed!
        • No Rebuke
          Where are the supporters of this series? Where are the Indymen who praised every move the H-G clan have ever made yet refuse to offer rebuke to any of the factual claims in these blog comments? As mentioned thousands of times, you can't dispute the factual truth. Therefore, you don't.
        • Thanks Chief
          Appreciate your comments and continued, downright obsessive, interest in the IRL.
        • His obsessive interest is like
          everything else apparently. It does nothing for the IRL. Ropin Randy's past 3 three years would have been a lot different if he had paid attention.
        • Obsessive interest
          I do have one obsessive see AOW restore itself to glory. However, that is not possible with the moronic self interests of the H_G clan at the helm. The Speedway has run this sport into the ground. Yep...just another worthless Indycentric fool who awaits for secret instruction from the Speedway on which way to think.
          • Well...
            I have been to the speedway twelve times in my life, each time as a participant in the Mini Marathon. I sometimes think I've completed more laps in competition than some drivers. Auto racing? No thanks... I wish the speedway and the 500 well; I know they are both important to the city and state. As for myself, I see quite enough of people expending enormous amounts of energy and making lots of noise while going round and round every day when I go to work. I just find the obsession with IRL/CART/AOW/whatever displayed in these long comments threads that clog the "recent comments" section of the IBJ site fascinating, and a bit disturbing. Best of luck to you.
          • Well said
            by someone who doesn't know what Indy used to mean

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          1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

          2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

          3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

          4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

          5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.