Guest Post: Aaron Jaffrey (@aaronjaffery) is Managing Director of Digital Sport Consultancy NineteenEightyFour.
28th January 2014. Jerez, Spain. The build-up to the F1 season begins in earnest as teams test their 2014 cars in public for the very first time. But the battle for hearts and minds started up to 2 weeks before, with the unveiling of the new cars. NineteenEightyFour take a look at how F1 teams used social media to unveil their new feats of engineering, and finds out what makes a successful launch campaign.
First into Turn 1
Force India were the first team to release ‘carefully chosen’ images of their new VJM07 in a teaser campaign on Wednesday 22nd January – the official car launch was scheduled for the 28th January. The campaign, which crossed Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus, featured #FeelTheForce and #VJM07 on Twitter and Instagram.
#VJM07 achieved a total of 6197 mentions on Twitter, peaking around the 22nd, with another smaller peak at the official unveiling on the 28th. Use of #FeeltheForce and @ mentions also follow a similar curve.
On Facebook, interest in Force India only really picked up after testing had started, and the car launch had no major impact on TPTA metrics. Indeed, the Force India Facebook page saw an 83% increase in this metric, up by 23,124.
And in terms of platform reach, again Facebook saw the biggest gains with an increased audience of 43,815 in figures taken for the 2-week period up to 30th January from SportSocial. Force India saw 4% increase in Twitter followers for the same period, and a 27% gain on Instagram (of 1,571 new follows). The lack of activity on YouTube shows, as they were only able to add 529 new subscribers, and only 251 on Google Plus.
The first 2014 car to be ‘officially’ unveiled was the McLaren MP4-29 on 24th January. McLaren have been using #McLaren2014 and #BelieveInMcLaren as a generic campaign building up to the season, and used a series of images explaining the rule changes in the lead up to the new car launch.
For the launch itself, #McLarenMP429 was used to profile the car, and followed this up with an #AskJenson Twitter Q&A.
After the launch images, this was followed by a series of YouTube videos and an infographic about the car. A similar approach was followed on Google Plus and Facebook, but with only the key posts being made. Instagram carried the press launch images only, and the #MP4-29.
#McLarenMP429 scored a total of 11,550 mentions on Twitter, with the peak at launch. #BelieveInMcLaren is being used as a longer term campaign, accumulating 5,906 mentions in the 30 days to 6th February, but only 965 on launch day itself. @ mentions for @McLarenF1 peaked at 15,000 mentions on launch day, and spiked again in the first couple of days of testing – coinciding with the unveiling of Jenson Button’s helmet tribute to his late father, John.
McLaren grew their Twitter reach by 15,652 in this period, and their Facebook likes grew by 54,260. Instagram follows increased by 2,835 and YouTube by 2,968. Google Plus In Circles grew to 4,350, taking McLaren over the 250,000 In Circles milestone.
Infinity Red Bull
Red Bull started their launch campaign on the 27th January with a mach-up image using photo-strips and #UnboltTheBull. This was followed on launch by the use of #RB10, a couple of images and a YouTube video of Adrian Newey before launching into images taken from the test circuit.
Similar content was utilised on Facebook and Google Plus, with more focus given to a photo album of the car on both platforms. Instagram carried a couple of car images from the launch only accompanied by #unboltthebull, but YouTube carried no video of the new car – just the interview with Adrian Newey.
#UnboltTheBull has accumulated 7,548 mentions in the last 30 days, but the vast majority of these were on launch day alone. #RB10 managed 8,848 mentions, but this trailed off quickly after Day 2 of testing.
@ mentions peaked at 6,549 on launch day, with another spike at 2,637 after a couple of days of testing after a troubled week at testing left the team to announce they were going back to the factory to rectify problems with the car.
The team added 12,198 new follows to it’s Twitter account, and an impressive 153,909 new likes on Facebook – despite a drop in PTA metrics.
Instagram grew by 3,488 followers, and YouTube by 2,120. Red Bull also saw good growth figures on Google Plus, with 10,797 adding them to their circles.
Ferrari led with the car name #F14T, releasing its first image on January 25th and then building up to the official launch with a series of YouTube interviews. Official launch day was dovetailed with a campaign to welcome back Kimi Raikkonnen to the team, #WelcomebackKimi, as well as the use of a campaign to support Michael Schumacher’s recovery from his ski-ing accident earlier in the month (#forzamichael).
Launch day on Twitter purely followed the exploits of the team on the 1st day of testing, where as the #F14T was the subject to a low key launch across other platforms. Facebook and Google Plus did not feature an image of the car until the day after launch. Instagram does not appear to feature in Ferrari’s planning, with most of Ferrari’s emphasis placed on YouTube.
#F14T attracted 42,298 mentions on Twitter, primarily on the 25th January when the campaign first made its appearance, peaking again on the 1st day of testing. This trend was matched by the timeline of @ mentions, with #WelcomebackKimi being used during testing and then tailing off.
And despite a focus on only Twitter and YouTube, the strength of the Ferrari brand (possibly combined with the news on Michael Schumacher) saw Ferrari growing on every platform they are active on.
Twitter saw an increase in followers of 18,748, and they added 4,454 subscribers to YouTube – the biggest increases in both. Facebook saw and increase of 182,053, and Google Plus saw a 46,685 increase In Circles.
Mercedes AMG F1
Mercedes AMG F1 launched the W05 on 28th January too, but this was the culmination of a week long teaser campaign across Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube.
Starting on 22nd January, the tease started in the form of infographic content and 3D models of the ‘Power Unit’.
Mercedes AMG adopted the humourous #W05sup, and this 1st appeared on the 24th January accompanied with a YouTube video profiling the sound of the engine, accompanied by the #listenforthewhistle. This was shared across Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.
The first abstract images of design features of the car appeared on 25th Januarywith more imagery released on the 27th January – including a special message for former driver Michael Schumacher in the form of #KeepFightingMichael
Another YouTube ‘trailer’ was released on 27th January, featuring Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and featuring abstract angles of the new car.
The W05 appeared for the first time in full on the 28th January, shot through the screen of a BlackBerry camera, with press images released shortly after.
The campaign ensured a steady stream of interest was maintained throughout the launch period, with it building to a crescendo on Twitter on launch day. #W05sup attracted 12,145 mentions on Twitter, peaking at 6,230 on launch, with @ mentions peaking at a similar time at 14,367.
In reach terms, Mercedes AMG F1 achieved a 20% increase in likes on Facebook, up 388,182. Twitter saw an increase of 14,871, and YouTube 2,920 new subscribers. Google Plus and Instagram saw much smaller growth – 463 and 1,630 respectively.
F1 teams have taken a wide variety of approaches taken to the launch of the new cars.
Twitter was the lead tool for all. Red Bull stayed focussed here with Ferrari) and to a lesser extent McLaren) also utilising YouTube heavily. Instagram seems to be a small part of the communication planning, and there was no obvious utilisation of emerging platforms such as Vine.
Perhaps surprisingly, there seems to have been limited use of Facebook by these teams, whilst Mercedes AMG have used the platform effectively, sharing content, using campaign hashtags and gaining followers as a result.
The winner is…
And, for their innovative approach to the car launch across all platforms, and very impressive Facebook growth figures, we award 1st prize to the Mercedes AMG F1 team.
Well done guys. A bottle of (virtual) champagne could be on its way to you!