Since the FIA Formula E Championship made its racing debut in 2014, the all-electric racing series has been sure to take full advantage of the way motorsport news and broadcasting is heading: online. As smart phones begun to offer their consumer on-the-go access to the internet, the way we received our news and features changed dramatically. Print publications took a hard hit as circulation figures plummeted, with blogs and social media sites replacing the way we received news stories. As well as blogs, other social media applications are now beginning to broadcast articles and exclusive content from their apps offering instant access to their audience.
Formula E has not only welcomed social media with open arms, it is setting a stunning example to the likes of Formula One on how to take full advantage of the ever-growing popularity of social media and online applications.
In a special feature with Formula E’s Kelly Piquet, I learn all about the importance of social media to the championship after only its second year as well as her journey with the electric sport.
“I am now working full time for Formula E as social media strategist and content creator. I focus on Instagram and Twitter, and do all Snapchat content,” Piquet informs me.
“Social Media is essential to Formula E because it reaches our target demographic, this being the coveted millennial demographic, in addition to being an essential tool to promote and distinguish our championship. Sports teams and leagues are better positioned than ever before by taking advantage of the connected world to grow their brands and reach new audiences. There is an emotional bond contained in sports culture combined with the marketability and peak interest around live sports events – which is why we are now heavily concentrating on Snapchat for example.”
The use of apps like Snapchat are what keeps fans feeling like they are at ePrix. The immense stream of exclusive content keeps fans constantly in touch with drivers at events and during the race weekend. Throughout the final round of the championship, the London ePrix even had its own Public Live Snapchat Story for all users of Snapchat to see, not just those that had chosen to follow the sport on the application. It is not known how many millions viewed the live story, but recent studies suggest that the app has 100 million daily active users with 70% of users being under 35-years-old.
“I think we have huge potential to grow in social media and we strive to be record breaking,” Piquet continues.
Kelly, who lives in London, is the sister of Formula E’s first championship winner Nelson Piquet Jr. When she joined the Formula E Circus her family had just purchased a BMW i3, a car that the social media star confesses her fondness for.
“As soon as I joined Formula E my family had just purchased a BMW i3 and I loved it! It actually is one of my favourite cars to drive. Now that I live in London I don’t really need a car, however if I ever need to rent one I use an app that lets you rent electric cars.”
Travelling with the sport is also in her job description. Visiting the great cities with the sport is “amazing”, Kelly tells me.
“You get to see so many different cultures, meet different people. Although the most exciting thing to me is being part of such an innovative concept, and introducing this new sport to different cities and cultures.
“My favourite race locations so far have been Berlin, Monaco, Buenos Aires and Paris.
“I would love to see Formula E in Spain, Japan, Australia and New York!”
As for negatives, there are not many: “I think it is more about the challenge of getting the right message through to our audience, in order to capture their interest in this new sport. People can be resistant to what they don’t fully understand, so our goal is to get our fans as ‘close’ to us as possible. Meaning we make Formula E an accessible sport, different than Formula 1 for example.”
For them, and thousands of others, Formula E is the future and the championship will only go from strength to strength.
Despite the incredible expansion of the championship, it is still tricky for those involved in the sport to guess where the series will be in ten years time.
“If the growth speed over the first two seasons is any preview of what is to come, than I cannot wait to see where it will go. The power of social media is certainly one of the biggest factors in the growth speed.”
Finally, with season two in the bag and certain drivers beginning to emerge as fan favourites, I wanted to know if Kelly thought the series was still missing a superstar; a Lewis Hamilton equivalent for example.