JC / Railbird

Social Media, Pro and Con

The annual TRA simulcasting conference is being held in Saratoga Springs in a couple weeks and I’ve been invited to participate in a panel on social media. While I have a general idea of where the conversation may drift and what points I’d like to make, I’d also like to go into the discussion with other perspectives in mind. To that end, I’d love to hear from fellow fans, either in comments below or via email (railbird [@] jessicachapel [.] com), about what in social media and racing is working — what do you find useful or meaningful? — and what isn’t. I’m particularly curious to hear about perceived limitations, either in what is being done or what is possible …

10/6/09 Postscript: Thanks and much appreciation to everyone who took time to send emails or comment below. The panel will be the morning of Wednesday, October 14. I’ll post a wrap-up and my notes sometime after.


My issue with social media in racing is follow through.

Many tracks started Twitter accounts, used them for a week (or month or day) and then abandoned them.

Many tracks started online community-type things such as blogs and chats but rarely updated or offered new content.

Social media is most successful when dialogue occurs. Rather than businesses taking the approach of, “I want to tell my followers what’s important to me,” the attitude should be, “I want to find out what’s important to both of us.”

Posted by EJXD2 on September 30, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

The best social media community in racing is one that isn’t run by a track or one of the usual media outlets, but is Ernie Munick’s Thoroughbred Racing In New York (TRNY) group on Facebook. Perhaps it’s the passion of its creator that’s at the center of it, but there’s always new content each week, the group has relationships with people at NYRA and NJSEA that get access for the best fan videos I’ve ever seen, and there’s a real community without the usual sniping that goes on elsewhere. Ernie does an unbelievable job keeping a friendly balance between the people who are fans first and the horseplayers.

If more tracks looked at what Ernie’s done, and built actual communities rather than the usual marketing ploys, they’d get deeper attachments to their social media outlets.

Posted by Ian Lozada on October 2, 2009 @ 11:54 am

This is along the lines of what Ian suggested:
I’d like to see more cooperation between tracks and independent bloggers. Ernie Munick’s work is a great example of a dedicated content provider for New York tracks but how often has NYRA publicized his work. How about Triple Dead Heat and Woodbine? At my site, I have done historical pieces about Delaware Park but have never received any traffic from them. These are just a few of many examples where independent, passionate people are creating content but the tracks ignore it. They should be finding ways to partner with these content providers and incorporate their work in their marketing and social networking plans.

Posted by Kevin Martin on October 2, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

Building on what everyone has said, tools are one thing but mindset is another. The attitude and strategies have to be looked at holistically in order to have the tools meet the objectives. Don’t just throw a twitter acct that you’ll eventually abandon out there, figure out a strategy for it. NYRAnews does a good job with scratches and info on Twitter, for example.

I noticed somewhere that at the recent NTRA marketing conference that there was a panel or something where tracks talked about their successes using social media, I would be curious to find out what they were. Someone may have published something on this but I haven’t had the time to look for it yet.

Posted by dana on October 2, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

CC’ing an email I sent to Jessica last week:

My observations are limited to twitter and blogs with scant facebook interest though it’s probably wise of tracks to do both facebook and twitter.

NYRA are the closest I’ve seen from those representing the industry to getting their running shoes on in social media. I’m careful to say that because this may be a more localized observation. Del Mar was very active on twitter and mostly for non-racing related tidbits. I don’t know if that was useful to the fan but maybe to a non-fan? How would a non-fan know to follow? To be fair, they did mix the racing in with interesting and exclusive(?) giveaways.

I guess my observation comes from the NYRA vs NJSEA perspective. Monmouth talked a big game before the meet and they really didn’t hit their stride at all. Again though, my observation is biased. I hear some really interesting things at Monmouth that never make it into their social media just by going to the track. Now of course some (or most!) of it wouldn’t want to be uttered anywhere by someone representing the track but some of it could. They did roll out a new website that is nice and shiney with blogs; social media’d out the ass. I just think there’s something missing with the whole package.

Generally, I think the tracks are in a bit of a tough spot. Social media is a very opinionated space and tracks are walking a thin line. How can they be a clearing house for information without going overboard and joining in on the opinionated-ness of social media? For one, don’t go overboard/overshare. For another, social media can only be as good as the tracks themselves.

The non-track industry (NTRA, BC, etc) lost all of their credibility with the hardcore fan and are probably not doing much in the social space to gather new fans. The limitations are from the broken situations that liter all of the industry in general, so the medium can’t be blamed.

The BC is right to co-opt a fan voice in Ernie’s videos. There needs to be more of that. I rag on Andy Serling but he’s shown a surprisingly judicious use of twitter. So there are some bright spots. I do note however that both of those are done on raceday and at the racetrack. I think it would be wise to use social media as a live, on track tool. Much has been made about “not enjoying the moment” while tweeting away…but these observations are from people who grew up without the incessant, always on hum of the internet.

Posted by o_crunk on October 2, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

I want to second a couple of o_crunk’s thoughts… totally agreed that NTRA does more damage with the current tweeter who is always about a day late and doesn’t add anything that hasn’t already been said. I think the BC does a decent job with twitter for announcements and am really looking forward to their BC360 tweeter (ahem) and Ernie’s videos. Absolutely agreed that tracks and orgs should “co-opt”/integrate the fan’s voice more often.

Also, agreed that Serling definitely deserves a nod… he’s another example of successful usage for a track.

Posted by dana on October 2, 2009 @ 1:35 pm