F1 tribalism

A few years ago, families would huddle in front of a large wooden box and sit with head turned to expose the good ear as they listened to The Shadow or myriad cops and robber serials on this magic device known as radio. The owners of the sophisticated broadcasting equipment would create content and send it across the airwaves where it would skip and carom off the ionospheric propagation and into the homes.

Time, like it’s wont to do, moved on and families did too. They huddled in front of an equally large wooden device with a small screen and watched the Ed Sullivan show or their favorite game show. Later soap operas became fashionable and content was created for the audience based upon perceived interests and marketing dollars. Families learned to bathe in the cathode rays of campy comedy and news.

As we headed into the modern era, we huddled in front of a plastic box and watched a small screen—usually orange or green in hue—as we typed away on a keyboard the words “If then” and the computer was born. Sure, that’s simplifying it a bit but you get the point.

Today we hover over a small device in our hand(s) and surf the digital ocean called the Internet. We also own the devices we surf with and through software (apps), we communicate with people all over the world. Revolutionary? It certainly is but in its purest form, it simply represents an evolution of communication. It’s not like we discovered aliens on the far side of Titan.

This new medium is different though. It is built upon the premise that we are engaged in a full duplex conversation in which we, the consumers, are also the creators of the content we consume. This hasn’t been the case for those old wooden boxes.

Now, every human with a connected device has something to say and we can read, see or hear it—apparently so can governments. In 1984 there were around 1,000 connected devices. Today there are close to 10 billion. That’s quite a growth rate if you’re looking for tangible examples of exponential growth.

NASCAR, NBA, NFL, Barclay’s Premier League, Olympics and thousand upon thousands of companies have all crawled on this new medium for myriad reasons. Using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst and more, and while we like to think of this as a community or collective, nothing really happens without the individual.

Formula 1, then, is surely all over this new medium seeing as the old wooden box medium was so near and dear to its revenue stream right? Wrong. Formula 1 hasn’t embraced the new medium without reluctance and a great deal of reservation. This has left teams and drivers to fend for themselves and they’ve done a decent job of it lately.

If you’ve followed drivers, teams and that wonderfully prolific tweeter, Dickie Stanford, then you know just how pervasive F1 pundits have become in the new medium that is social media. Formula 1, however, offers…crickets.

Vivacity Hangout

That may be changing if the lads I spoke with today on a Google Hangout session have anything to do with it. James from Mercedes and Steve from Caterham are intent on taking social media farther for their employers and it is refreshing to know they mean business—I don’ think Steve liked me saying “Mike Gascoyne is floating around an ocean in a rubber raft” though.

The chat today was centered on, what marketing calls, brand tribalism. The notion that F1 teams and drivers have and can build fan loyalty and passion through social media. What I will say, before you push off and watch the video, is that things are slightly different on this side of the pond.

Having a greatly reduced amount of coverage and access to Formula 1 than the UK, we rely heavily on social media to help us feel connected to the sport. I surmise that is possibly true in return for a bloke in London who fancies MLS soccer or NFL football here in the States.

As such, the way team’s approach social media could be quite different for the localization effect. Anyway, what do you think of F1’s attempt at tribalism and building more brand loyalty, passion and driving sales and sponsor dollars? Give the chat a watch and let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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