Guest Author - Christine Blachford
As the new cars are being rolled out during these few �launch� months, teams are also starting to embrace their legion of fans that use the internet. Renault have unveiled a new social network, Force India have been doing it for a while, and Honda are getting their act together for a revamp.
Renault have always been relatively forward thinking when it comes to reaching out to their fans in new and imaginative ways. Last season, they used the web to great success with live feeds of each of their drivers and all kinds of data being thrown back from each race. They announced they will repeat the effort this year, so if you want to log in to Renault�s site, you should be able to follow Alonso�s every move out on track from the comfort of your own sofa.
Now they have branched out into social networking, with a fledgling fan site. The premise is for users to share photos, upload blog entries and generally connect with other Renault fans. It�s a brand new site and moderation is fierce, but it�s getting better all the time and will continue to improve as more and more people use it.
This fan site has been around longer than the others and a lot of the bug fixing has already taken place. There is less moderation, more trust, and plenty of users already on there, sharing their thoughts and dreams for the newest site on the grid. With the team trying to bring Formula 1 to hundreds of new fans in India, this social network could really take off when they finally take to the track proper.
The Honda site has long since accepted fan photos and videos, but very few people either knew about it or were using it. I certainly only just discovered that you could do that, and when I had a look there were no videos and only about 7 photos for each month (all of which looked quite corporate, perhaps uploaded by Honda to save embarrassment?) Now, the team are planning a revamp of their site to be more like the Renault effort � photos, videos, blogging. Whether this iteration will be any more successful than the last one remains to be seen.
So what is the point of this social networking and why are the teams bothering? There are more and more fans using the internet to try and get their information about teams and drivers. Marketing departments have obviously realised that getting lots of fans in one place, talking about and being immersed in a Honda experience, for example, can only be a good thing.
From the fans point of view, I would suggest that we need more information coming out of the teams, rather than yet another place to post our photos.