Don’t let what happened to Formula 1 happen to you. I watch Formula 1 racing since the mid-1990s. I saw its progression from being an entertaining sport where the drivers and team owners spoke their minds to an aseptic corporate communications machine. I lost touch. I stopped reading the news. These days, I watch the races that I pre-recorded the day before. I recalled when I stayed up late to see the start of the race live. Frankly, I missed the time when I couldn’t wait to read the F1 news before, during and after each race.
Sadly, this is what many marketers and business people are doing online. They lack personality. They feared to show their human side. They try to appeal to everyone. They fail to tell stories that resonate with their customers — current and potential customers. I think all this is a mistake.
I noticed one Formula 1 team that gives me back some of the excitements of their sport. Lotus F1 Team uses humor, displays emotions, even laughs at their mistakes on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. By being entertaining and giving what their audience want, they built trust around their brand. Even though my favorite driver will switch to a Ferrari seat next year, I will continue to follow Lotus F1 Team online just because their content is compelling.
Let’s examine a series of elements that you could reuse to get people interested by your stories.
1. Give your fans what they expect from you.
It starts by knowing why people follows you. Ferrari fans and Lotus fans are very different. Ferrari has a long legacy and their fans are loyal to the brand. Their fans follow Ferrari. Who drives a Ferrari is secondary; their drivers are accessories. It is not the case at Lotus. Since they recognized that, they each took a different approach. Ferrari shares news about their cars from their commercial lines to their racing cars, emphasizes the management team and anything about the Ferrari brand. Instead, Lotus concentrates its efforts around its drivers.
The first thing that you need to know is why people are following your brand online. What do they want from it?
2. Focus on people in the know.
Your customers and fans are your best brand advocates. So use it to your advantage. The easiest way to stay on top of the mind is by publishing content that appeals to them. Lotus F1 team published things for people in the know. They talk to people who follow Formula 1, not the general public.
3. We are all human and we make mistakes.
It has been a year with several moments where tension was high between them and their star driver Kimi Raikkonen. Some nasty comments have been exchanged and made public through the radio communications captured during the races. Lotus F1 Team have issued formal corporate responses but they also commented with humor, sometimes even irony, to these emotional moments.
Most of companies are not willing to go that far. Nonetheless, Lotus engaged and earned points with their fans by either laughing at themselves or making us laugh at the situation. Looking at the fan responses, I think that it was the right way to address these emotional moments with their fans.
4. Use creative hashtags.
On Pinterest, Lotus F1 team play with words when it comes to hashtags. They make it fun and entertaining for us. #TrackOfTheRisingFun refers to the 2013 Japan Grand Prix, #CatchTheBull for the Spain Grand Prix, #Mozzarella tells us what happened at the Monza circuit and #GodSavesOurTyres highlights the British Grand Prix. As you noticed, none has the Lotus name in it. By doing so, their hashtags become more engaging.
5. It is not just about business.
Regardless of your industry, you should publish fun or lighter content from time to time. It doesn’t have to be jokes. It can be fun facts about the cities where you have offices. If you are in an industry with a long history, it could be an historical fact or highlighting a past habit. Try to make it personal. My first tweet of the day is often about the weather in the city where I woke up. I do it because that is the first thing I checked every morning. It not only tells people something about myself. You will be surprised by how many responses from people in various cities I received over the years.
A final thought
If you have problems figuring out what your brand should say on social media, forget your own interest. The best place to find the solution is by putting yourself in your customer’s and prospect’s shoes.