It’s been interesting to see how Fernando Alonso has started opening up much more to the public recently, clearly part of a move to address his image in the public’s eyes and to use the social media tools available today to build a better relationship – and a direct one – with fans. This weekend has has taken part in a widescale question and answer session with fans via his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
For example Alonso only recently joined Twitter, one of the last of the leading drivers to do so. He now has almost half a million followers. This was because Ferrari’s strategy until this year was to control all communications centrally, as head of communications Luca Colajanni explained at the Montreal Fans Forum last year,
“Social networking and the internet as a whole presents a big issue: anonymity,” he said.”I often have to deal with rumours spread on websites, of which I don’t know the source. I can mention one today from a Dutch website, which says Flavio Briatore is coming Ferrari. It’s complete b*s! As it’s nearly impossible to control, sometimes you have to take decisions that are unpopular. Unlike McLaren, we don’t let our drivers use Twitter because we don’t want them writing something that can be misinterpreted. We want control and we need to find the right balance.”
But in less than 12 months, that has all changed. As many celebrities are finding, there are benefits to having a direct relationship with fans via your own social media platform and in Alonso’s case, the driving force for this is his awareness that the image painted of him in the media is not as he is. Sebastian Vettel also has this problem and it will be interesting to see if he breaks free of Red Bull communications to address it himself.
Here’s what Alonso told one fan this weekend, “I think I´ve always shown myself as I am. People that have known me for years usually say that I haven´t changed.. Many times when I read my quotes on the covers of newspapers I feel very distant from that character. It’s as if it’s not me. Then you see columns making opinions, signed by people who don’t even know you and have never spoken to you. Between one thing and another, a character has been created which has nothing or little to do with me…Until now…”
This “interview” with his fans is only one aspect of a wider move towards openness from Alonso, which we also saw in the test at Mugello. I was very surprised to see him describe himself as not the fastest driver in F1 over a single lap. This is exactly the kind of line that is open to misinterpretation. It could easily be twisted into “Alonso: I’m not the fastest F1 driver”.
Here’s what he said, ““I’m not the fastest driver in qualifying, on street circuits, in the rain or in pit stops, but I’m a 9.5 (out of 10) in all those areas and I know how to get the best from the materials at my disposal.”
Today we are launching a new site called JA on F1 Connect, which we’re describing as “Your gateway to F1 news and social media.”
It’s a one-stop shop, where in one visit you can get the latest news from major new organisations and F1 websites, as well as Facebook postings, Twitter feeds and You Tube postings, such as these insights posted by Alonso. Basically in one place you can find all the latest news and information about F1 at any given time. It’s free and I hope it will become the main portal for F1 fans and professionals to check up on latest developments. It’s URL is http://connect.jamesallenonf1.com
Click this link to take a look. JA on F1 connect
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