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An update on the F1 social media battle
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jul 2012   |  4:27 pm GMT  |  75 comments

The fight for on-track supremacy in Formula 1 is proving as tight and competitive as ever this year but an interesting off-track ‘battle’ to monitor from time to time is teams’ efforts to increase their reach in the world of social media.

With F1’s outfits’ participation in such channels now far more established and widespread than was the case a couple of years ago, the numbers of Twitter and Facebook followers the teams enjoy has continued to increase at a fast rate of knots across the board. Our partner site F1i in France has compiled some research on the subject, revealing some interesting comparisons of the picture across both major platforms compared to 12 months ago.


All but three of F1’s teams have enjoyed triple percentage increases in followers over the past 12 months, with Ferrari consolidating its lead over McLaren to nearly 100,000 followers.  Mercedes though had the smallest increase of all and is being closed in on for third place by Red Bull – who added around 86,000 followers in the last year – with Lotus a little further back after an impressive 160% increase itself.

Compared to last year, Caterham has moved ahead of Marussia into sixth place while Sauber, likely to be aided by their sudden surge to prominence in the field this year, has posted the biggest percentage increase of all 355% after adding nearly 50,000 extra fans to its account.

Yet, to put the statistics into some context, F1 teams still have quite some way to go to match the biggest English Premier League football teams’ Twitter reach for instance. Arsenal currently lead the way here with a 1.6 million followers ahead of Chelsea (1.1m) and Liverpool (1m) (Manchester United don’t have an official Twitter account, but do have a massive 26 million ‘likes’ on the club’s Facebook page).


Red Bull’s large 12-month growth in Twitter followers extends to Facebook, with the world champion team having usurped McLaren as the most ‘liked’ F1 team on the grid. Ferrari only ramped up its Facebook activities from a low base inside the last year so no percentage comparison is listed, although the Scuderia is already up to third place, while Williams’ own page is also little over a season old. Force India, meanwhile has the fifth most popular Facebook page, whereas on Twitter the team is ranked only ninth.

Interestingly, further research by our colleagues has shown that while it may only have the seventh-highest number of ‘likes’ of its official page, Lotus has a very engaged Facebook community. A total was calculated for the number of likes’, comments and sharing on posts appearing on F1 team pages with over 100,000 likes across the Thursday-Sunday period of both the European and British GPs, with a coefficient then worked out by dividing by the number of people able to view the page. As the table below shows, here Lotus easily swept the board at both races.

Ferrari’s Facebook presence is not as clear cut or easy to measure against F1 rivals as the F1 programme is not differentiated in the wider Official Ferrari page which has 8,878,330 likes.


Remember you can keep right up to date with all the F1 teams’ social media updates, along with the latest breaking F1 news from all the main online media outlets, right here in one place on JA on F1 via our new Connect site. Click on the banner below to access.

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I like Twitter, as the info is straight from the horse’s mouth i.e not distorted by newspapers etc into a story that never was


Alonso’s twitter updates are good, insightful, and sometimes very funny.


you guys certainly hv no ideas how many fans kimi has in Asia, particularly China~~~ Everyone who went to SHanghai gp this year will be shocked too, the crowds went crazy and keep yelling Kimi during driver parade!!! I dare to say, throughout the globe, kimi has the biggest fans base among other drivers!!


@Aussie_Grit for the win! go Mark!


Definitely agree on the engagement levels as a better measure. Particularly Twitter as it tends to be more current. Would Defintely like to see more podcasts/ pics/ interviews with drivers tweeted on race weekends.

James I think your eight old is a very clever boy. Have you asked him why he likes about Kimi?


Hey James, if possible could you post links to official Facebook and Twitter accounts for the F1 teams? I searched for a few on Facebook but there seem to be a load of fake accounts up, the same with Twitter. For the less computer literate of us it would be a benefit! 🙂


They are all there at http://connect.jamesallenonf1



We also have all the team/driver youtube accounts

Michael Roberts

Wouldn’t it be lovely if someone at Formula One Management was in charge of growing the brand by social media. I guess that F1 does have the @F1 Twitter account but of course it’s linked to a RSS feed of Formula1.com. If it wasn’t then that would be one more person for them to employ, so they can’t justify the expense.


Might not be that far off. They have been recruiting lots of new people to form a marketing department

Michael Roberts

Fascinating. I did hear rumours that one of the teams demands for the last Concorde agreement was for the Commercial Rights Holder to take on some of the marketing of the sport. Maybe in exchange for less money?


Companies sweat over those customers they want to woo, not those they already have. Typically, they have used social media defensively, as a means for managing image, rather than as a positive tool for co-creating their brand with customers.

But F1 teams and their sponsors will in time find themselves re-evaluating how they use social media. The sheer cost of not knowing “where is everybody” and having to rebuild that audience every time will wear them down.

Besides, whether it will be a software upgrade for their customers’s ever smarter cars, or a limited access data package for gamers, in time these media are bound to prove their value in new and exciting ways.


Followers is never a good single indicator of effectiveness of social media. In the Twitter reviews I’ve been doing over at badgergp I never look at fan numbers, but engagement levels. Followers can be bought, more so on Facebook than on Twitter to be fair, but you can throw marketing money at it to reach targets. Especially if certain targets are in sponsorship agreements. It always depends on what the teams objectives are, but I’d always include engagement measures in assessing a team’s social media activity


I quite agree with you Rachel. It can cost as little as £50 to buy 20,000 twitter followers and I know of several unscrupulous agencies who game the system in order to meet periodic targets.

The same thing is true for famous people, celebs and indeed sportspeople – if you’ve come to Twitter late in the day, then it can be embarassing to have so few followers (especially when others are crowing so loudly about theirs), so the temptation is to open your wallet and buy your way up the league table. Sad, but true..


Welcome to the 21st century F1


James, please don’t forget to look at Google+ this is a fast growing network that also shows some interesting stats.. I think I read that Ferrari where faster to 1 million followers on G+ than any other social media type.

tom in adelaide

F1 is still in the dark ages. How about letting fan shot footage remain on Youtube for a start?


It would be interesting if Google+ was added to the mix. I know it’s nowhere near as popular as Twitter/FB, but it would add another dimension.


Interesting how? I don’t think any teams or drivers post content to G+ that isn’t just a copy of what’s already on facebook or twitter


Redbull racing does


Meanwhile Alonso got twitter like yesterday and has more than 800,000 followers. JB and Lewis are in the millions I believe.

Proof that people like to follow people more than corporations. I’m glad Ferrari allowed their drivers to express themselves online.


You can just check it at each driver’s twitter account.

Jenson Button (@JensonButton) has 1.030.000 followers. Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) has 908.000.


Let’s face it. Raikkonen is the most popular driver of the modern F1 era. He was constantly being discussed on popular F1 forums even when he was away for 2 years. He is a big crowd puller for the Lotus social media feeds. Do a poll of the most “popular” current F1 driver and you will see what i mean.


My 8 year old always says he’s his favourite driver too!


not so brilliant?? He is doing extremely well given with handicapped steering that doesnt suit his driving style at all~~ his performance in bahrain is just as brilliant if not more !!


Haha for a driver who doesn’t speak very much he is liked by kids too??

He is definitely very popular here in Asia especially China & Japan.


James, your 8-year old must have been 1-3 years when Raikkonen showed his best performance in 2005 and 2007 and he was perhaps not even born when Raikkonen was runner-up in the Championship in 2003 using an older spec car. So he hardly must have seen Raikkonen’s best performance, yet he likes him only based on his current driving which is somewhat not-so-brilliant when compared to those earlier years!


He likes his character


Shrewd kid you’ve got there, James. He knows his F1…takes after Dad ?? 😉


HRT and Renault (engines) do a good job of giving out interesting photos and information over the weekend. The smaller teams, I find, are a better follow as they have to fight to get followers, while RBR, McLaren and Ferrari don’t have to (I think they could do much better).


Much as it can be fun to display league tables, especially in a competitive sport such as F1, the numbers of followers and likes is completely meaningless in a social media context – they don’t represent ‘active’ users, nor those who actually do anything by having their social channels open to a team or driver.

Around 40% or more of a brand’s followers are likely to be spam accounts, which will be even greater the more well known the brand or person is. Then of course you’d need to filter dormant accounts and only then would you arrive at the number of ‘real’ people following (or liking).

A better metric would be number if conversations with fans, or number of mentions in a given week or month, but of course that doesn’t sound anywhere near as sexy as saying you’ve got a million followers..


“Around 40% or more of a brand’s followers are likely to be spam accounts, which will be even greater the more well known the brand or person is.”

If there’s a direct correlation between the strength of the brand and the amount of spam accounts it attracts, then presumably it’s the same for everybody and valid to be included in the statistic?


For the purposes of an article such as this, where the goal id merely light-hearted discussion, then it’s perfectly valid as you say – just don’t use the information for drawing any meaningful conclusions.

For example I would expect Ferrari to have many more spam followers than Marussia, for the simple reasoning that the timewasters who set up these automated accounts are likely to know only the biggest names (who’ve been around the longest). Likewise McLaren and Red Bull, although probably to a lesser extent than Ferrari because to most laypeople Ferrari ‘is’ Formula One, so would be the first name they’d add to their spam list.

Ultimately my comment reflects the growing problem of brands who count social media followers as some kind of trophy, but besides the spam and dormant accounts none of this says ‘why’ people are following a particular brand – is it because they like them? or just their social media team have a good sense of humour? (i.e. Lotus F1).

The reason why I follow certain teams and drivers is far more complicated than how I feel about them (hot or cold).

Some I follow because their feed provides a more comprehensive viewpoint of the whole GP than other teams – I quite like Caterham F1’s tweets which tell more of a story than others. Likewise, because I’m not a fan of football, I can’t abide the feed of Pirelli’s PaulH. I’ve also followed Will Buxton for a few years, despite disliking much of what he tweets – but he’s quick to pick up on other people’s news, so I find some of his posts useful.

There’s certainly ‘some’ pattern of supply and demand in social media, but I’ll be darned if I could draw any conclusions about a team or driver, without drilling much further into the data.

League tables are fun, but most brands, in my experience, need talking down from the pedestals they build themselves.


Barrichello creams them all with 1.7M followers.


I saw the headline and was surprised James didn’t mention what Williams gave up in social media terms with Rubinho.

It was his response to the Williams-Renault deal that was often cited last year as the best example of the value of Twitter etc to sponsors.


Any idea about the number following individual drivers?


You can just check it at each driver’s twitter account.


Money is the name of the game. F1 teams and FOM never got their merchandizing figured out (compare with NASCAR) so I don’t expect much in their monetizing social media.


You still have some words in French James, check the subtitles!


These figures distort what is actually happening..

McLaren has the lowest engagement of all F1 teams online despite having the most fans..

Great Content + Regular Updates = Good engagement.


Interesting to show Kimi as the poster boy for this; bet he REALLY cares how many followers there are. 🙂


I was going to comment on the same thing. He’s one of the few that doesn’t have a Twitter handle, yet is pictured in the social media article.

Made me chuckle. Perhaps that was the intent…


Does it make their cars go faster?


I think the amount of Twitter followers one acquires is the real barometer of one’s popularity unlike Facebook.

Yes Facebook has way more bot accounts and such whereas Twitter accounts tend to be genuine and thus we have a situation were you have Force India having the 5th most popular Facebook account whereas on Twitter it’s ranked 9th.

Personally, the thing I like most about social media is the fact that we get the latest F1 pictures pronto though am disappointed in all driver’s accounts for they hardly tell us anything of real value apart from using social media as a form of PR tool to get the word out.

Anyway, F1 need not worry too much or try to compete with the football accounts for everybody knows football is the people’s sport so it’s bound to have more followers and fans


ForceIndia could just as well be because many more people in India use Facebook than use Twitter (which is my impression) – twitter usage is much more concentrated in the US/UK than facebook usage.

As more people display their real personalities on twitter and are rewarded by more fans, others are forced to ‘catch up’ and it offers a way out of the sterile PR friendly world we’ve been stuck in for too long.

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