Tweeting drivers keeps F1 interesting, says Williams boss.

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Blog, Podcasts | 0 comments

Tweeting drivers keeps F1 interesting, says Williams boss.

The deputy team principal of the Williams Formula 1 team says it is vital that drivers are allowed to carry on tweeting – despite the possibilities of PR disasters. Claire Williams reckons F1 drivers need to be accessible so the sport doesn’t become boring. Claire gave an exclusive interview to Status Social and told us how she thinks social media and Formula 1 are a perfect fit.

Status Social: Is it a good or bad thing for F1 drivers to be personally engaging on social media?

CW: “I think it’s a great thing. There are lots of people that say Formula 1 is inaccessible and that the drivers are inaccessible and people can’t get into the paddock to meet them. So for drivers to tweet and to do it personally (and they all do, our drivers, they do it themselves, a press officer doesn’t do it for them), I think it’s so important that drivers do that.

I think it adds colour to the sport and it adds characters to our sport that are so necessary, so that it doesn’t just become an inaccessible, dry terrain that people aren’t interested in – and that people love. Racing drivers they’re heroes!”

Status Social: You’ve worked your way up through the ranks at Williams over the past 11 years now becoming Deputy Team Principle – how keen have you been throughout that time to embrace social media as a way of driving the team’s relationship with fans?

Claire Williams 2CW: “Well we were always looking at new ways when I worked in communications to beat everyone else. We’re hugely competitive at Williams, and that is not just applicable to the cars on track, it’s in everything we do. I maybe more so than others. Even down to the smallest detail, such as how quickly we get our press releases out at the end of every session after a race weekend.

Social media didn’t come on the scene though until quite a long way through my career in the communications office, probably in ’09 or something. I think we first started social media properly and that started with Twitter at testing. In fact someone told me the other day that we were the first to send pictures from a test, which I didn’t really know and I think that’s amazing!

So we are really proud of what we do. We don’t have the fan-following that Ferrari or the likes of Lewis Hamilton does, but I think we fight our own and I think we do a really good job of it and now for us it’s a hugely important element of the comms [communications] offer, not just for fans but for our partners as well.”

Status Social: Putting users at the forefront of the digital experience has always been high on your agenda. What can fans expect, continuing through this year, from their digital experience to try and help put them first?

CW: “Fans are such an important part of any sport and they are a really big part of Williams and we are very lucky we have got some very loyal fans that have been following the team since Frank started it, or when Frank started racing even, in ’69. They deserve loyalty in return, so whatever we can do to in order to enhance our offer for them and to embrace and engage them and draw them in so that they are part of the Williams experience is really important.

Every year we come up with a new road map as to how we will engage fans and we have a wide range of elements that fall under that from producing videos every month about what the team are doing in the factory or what Valtteri is doing trackside. We do lots of print and written material that goes up online and competitions weekly on Twitter. Someone is always engaging on Twitter.

We encourage more of our team personnel to engage on Twitter or to go on Instagram. So, we are always looking at different things that we can do and we are always looking at unique things that other teams aren’t doing to stand ourselves out. But we do it to share our passion for the sport and to bring fans in and to be a part of it and share things behind the scenes that they wouldn’t necessarily get elsewhere.”

Status Social: How do you think social media will impact Formula 1 going forward and how important is it to Formula 1?

CW: “I think it’s really important. There are so many restrictions around what we do, but actually it’s one of the freer elements of how we can communicate with our fans. So I think we just need to keep working on how we develop those channels. We have some very clever people in our communications team now that are working on that and actually engaging with other teams up and down the paddock.”

Listen to the entire interview with Claire Williams – including why the Williams drivers should be in everyone’s fantasy F1 teams and what Claire thinks of her driver Valtteri Bottas.

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