We last reported on Jonathan Vaughters’ (@Vaughters), CEO and Director Sportif, Garmin Cervelo, conversational use of Twitter. Vaughters uses Twitter as a communication tool. He is able to get his side of an issue directly to fans and the media. On the professional team side, BMC Racing Team is really the only professional team that utilizes both Twitter and Facebook effectively. The driving force behind the BMC Racing Team’s extensive social media presence is one Sean Weide (@sweide), Press Officer for BMC Racing Team.
Regular media is much like a one-way street. You read a newspaper or listen to a report on television. Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives a team like BMC Racing Team the ability to communicate directly with their fans.
“Social media allows us to make one-on-one contact with people that wouldn’t otherwise get to have contact…unless we are racing in their back yard,” stated Weide. “It’s a chance for us to showcase the team and the riders and to respond directly to our fans.”
A perfect example of the immediate use of social media happened on Saturday. Weide received news earlier in the day that Chris Butler had a broken bone in his pelvis. Butler was racing at the Giro d’Italia. Weide went immediately to the social media networks and informed fans and the media of Butler’s status.
“We received notice that Chris Butler has a broken bone in his pelvis,” said Weide. “With the immediacy of social media we can get the word out. Even if it’s a short 140 character burst…here is the preliminary information. We can then follow up with a formal official press release. In this case I am learning from Chris that he would like to continue in the race. That is great because what we can do is as soon as I have the facts I can immediately tweet something that will change the situation. We can then go in and clarify the situation. That is the beauty of social media. In a situation like this social media is going to help us help the journalists do their jobs and help us relate the very latest information to fans.”
Examples of BMC Racing Team communicating the news of Butler’s injury and his status as an active rider in the Giro d’Italia:
Facebook post 11:45am PDT – “We are sorry to report Chris Butler has had to withdraw from his first Giro d’Italia. X-rays reveal he has a broken bone in his pelvis from a crash earlier in the week.
Facebook post 12:45pm PDT – “Update on Chris Butler and his broken pelvic bone: BMC Racing Team doctors are doing further examinations to see whether Chris can keep going in his first Giro d’Italia. We’ll keep you posted.”
Facebook post 4;45pm PDT – “Final word is in on Chris Butler and unfortunately the broken pelvic bone he suffered will force his withdrawal from the Giro d’Italia.”
Many BMC Racing Team members have active Twitter accounts. Cadel Evans – @CadelOfficial, Taylor Phinney – @taylorphinney, Chris Barton – @chrisbarton88, Chris Butler – @cbutler88, Scott Nydam – @ScottNydam, Jeff Louder – @louderjeff, Brent Bookwalter – @brentbookwalter, and George Hincape – @ghincapie
When asked about the social media guidance given to the riders, Weide commented, “We try to share guidelines to the riders and staff. Certainly we never encourage or discourage anyone. It’s truly up to them. We want them to be representative of the BMC Racing Team. They are our representatives at all times. Whether they are at a race or at home, people think of them as part of the BMC Racing Team. The guidelines we share boil down to one philosophy and that is, ‘think before you tweet or post.’ Once it’s out there it can never come back.”
BMC Racing Team is the rare professional team that actively informs their fans and the media consistently. To be fully effective, teams need to utilize the social media tools consistently and actively engage with their fans. BMC Racing Team has done all of this and more. Professional cycling would be better if more teams utilized the BMC Racing Team’s social media model.