(Our guest writer and social media expert Rachel Clarke takes a look at McLaren’s attitude to social media. How does their website stack up for user-friendliness? What other strategies are they using to market to their fan base online? Could they – and should they – be doing more? Rachel casts her eye on both the team and its drivers, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. It’s a great read!)

One of the communication methods that nearly all of the teams are using this year is digital and social media, allowing them to directly communicate with fans in a multitude of ways. In the first of a series of reviews, we take a look at what McLaren is doing in the area.

McLaren Race 1.1B

The first area to look at is the McLaren Racing website.  The site is the main source of news and also the location of their race commentary, or the “Race 1.1B” (pictured above) as they call it. During the practice sessions, qualifying and the race, they provide ongoing comments which include general updates, some reports of what’s been said over the radios, video, pictures and live telemetry from both cars.  Fascinating to watch, especially as you can often see things happening which don’t get reported on the TV commentary.

McLaren iPhone Application Also from the main site you can find the Vodafone player, a widget you can take and embed on you Facebook page or other social network of choice, your blog,  your Google, Yahoo or other homepage to feed you news, interviews and live race data.

You can also grab the mobile version of the widget, for your phone of choice. Interestingly, I found the phone app (pictured right) had far better race telemetry than the website, which seems to grind to a halt at times as the commentary is updating.

Finally, the McLaren members’ forum can be accessed if you wish to spend some money on the team. However, it does seem slightly neglected in the IT/design/interactive areas, not looking to have had any updates compared to the rest of the McLaren sites.

Away from the official websites, McLaren are active across the main social networks.   The YouTube Channel has a a bunch of videos, although it’s not McLaren Twitter (Fifth_Driver)updated very often and when it is, they’re mainly official, glossy marketing types of videos.  All of these are also posted across to their Facebook page, along with pictures and plenty of news. This page has nearly 100,000 fans and there’s plenty of interactivity and comments.    The there’s a Twitter feed from “The Fifth Driver”, which is definitely the most human of all the channels, being comments and observations with lots of ad hoc pictures from the races and various events the drivers go to. 

From the drivers, Jenson Button has his site and is also on Twitter, posting irregularly as “The Real JB”.   Lewis Hamilton appears to stick to his site only, but if you’re a fan you can also engage with a fantasy version of Lewis this year, from one of his sponsors Reebok, who are running a season-long game  called Secret Lewis (also on Twitter, pictured below).

McLaren Secret Lewis

The overall impression is that McLaren are doing their best to connect in as many different ways as possible with their fans, through multiple channels.  There’s lots of information available about what the team and drivers are doing and plenty of ways to get more detail about what is happening during the race. They’re a big team spending money in this area, reflected in the slickness of much of their output.

Unlike other some other teams (who I will profile in coming articles), I can find few ‘personal’ examples of use of the tools, but I could be missing them. I see opportunities being missed with their video output – they could be having a lot more fun with impromptu behind the scenes video – and the members’ forum could do with some work, but otherwise, a great set of tools for the fans.

[Images via McLaren official site, Secret Lewis, Twitter]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.