Just a few years ago, a #hashtag was merely a Twitter pioneer’s tool to organize and curate tweets around conversations on Twitter. Now #hashtags are launching pads for global conversations around major televised events. This weekend Los Angeles-based Farmers Insurance will become the first NASCAR sponsor to feature a #hashtag on a racecar. They’re also working with driver Kasey Kahne and his Hendrick Motorsports team to create a unique experience for fans to engage with him before, during and after this weekend’s Texas Motor Speedway and next weekend’s Kansas Speedway, both airing on FOX.
– Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) April 11, 2012
We spoke with Ryon Harms, Director of Social Media for Farmers about the campaign and how they’re using their sponsorship of the racecar to give Kahne’s fans a way to connect with him.
Lost Remote: How did you come up with the idea for the #Hashtag decal?
Ryon Harms: For some time now, there’s been a love affair between NASCAR and Twitter with NASCAR fans. During the Daytona 500, some car exploded and stopped the whole track. One of the drivers was tweeting what was happening on the course. He got some 200,000 fans right away. We’re new to NASCAR. We saw there was a big opportunity to do something with Kasey Kahne and our car.
I started to think, what assets do we have as a company within this event. What can we do with social media that will get enough people to pay attention. How we can connect the offline and online. The obvious was the racecar itself. I also didn’t want to do what most companies would do, to put our Twitter handle on it. Just putting a little follow us icon – who, what and why would [someone] want to [follow us]. We’re an insurance company, we’re not Coca Cola or Starbucks. We want to tap into the passion that’s already happening with NASCAR and Kasey. They are die hard fans and we are there to support them.
How can we create a great experience for the fans if we’re going to do it through Twitter. To put a #hashtag, it creates a channel for people to connect online that have a similar interest. In this case, it was Kasey Kahne fans before, after and during the race.
It’s always the Farmers 5 Chevrolet Car. It fits so naturally to have #hashtag be #Farmers5 because that’s what the car is. We talked with Hendrick Motorsports who manages Kasey. What we decided is that it would be on the rear bumper.
LR: What were the launch strategies?
RH: First Kasey tweeted, then the Hendrick team handle gave away some signed Kasey Kahne hats, for tweeting why they love Kasey so much. Now we have this channel started. What can Farmers do to add to the conversation. We’re not looking to pitch any of our products, we want to contribute to the community. We’ll be doing some fun things.
LR: How do you think the TV broadcasts of the two races will increase visibility?
RH: It’s not really seen as much from the audience, but because of where it’s positioned it will be very visible on TV cameras. It’s to give the folks watching on TV that lean forward engagement. I think that every racecar should have a #hashtag, it’s giving all these fans a way to lean forward and have engagement with other fans. Before and after there are opportunities for Kasey to participate.
LR: Are you going to be tracking the number of tweets using the #hashtag? If so what partners are you working with to track?
RH: What I’m really looking for is quality conversations with Kasey fans. That’s going to give us the kinds of insights, to give more and more to this community. For this first race, since no ones ever done it, I’m looking for qualitative over quantitative.
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