Twittering Success: Beam Baja Postmortem

by Jason Falls |

My apologies for mum being the word on the Beam Baja Twitter Tracker project from last month. The project, which sent me to the Baja 1000 with Robby Gordon and his Monster Energy Trophy Truck where I Twittered updates from the clandestine off-road racing event, was a success. Or at least we think it was.

Beam Baja Twitter TrackerOur goal was to connect fans of Robby Gordon and off-road racing with (sort of) live updates from the duration of the Baja 1000, a race that typically runs 18-26 hours for the winning trucks. Run from Ensendada to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico along the Baja Peninsula, communications and race updates are usually hard to come by.

We had several of the 70-member Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM) team equipped with satellite phones. They reported back before and after pit stops on progress, conditions, competition and so on. We monitored GPS tracking feeds from as many other drivers as we could and were able to provide fairly accurate, though not perfect, race reporting through the event.

For the record, Robby finished third. It was a proud effort though, because early troubles put him well behind the leaders. He was in 7th place with about eight hours to go but picked off several trucks in the last 200 miles.

From the best of our information and measurement gathering, we can report this:

The Beam Twitter Tracker was the only consistent and continual resource of updated race information for the duration of the event. Several other sites posted hourly updates, but were inconsistent and lacking in depth of information. The Weatherman, a CB radio feed streamed live over the Internet, offered sporadic updates, but is primarily used to radio emergency information when drivers are stranded, in accidents, etc. An early helicopter crash kept that feed on “code red” or quiet sans emergency information relays for hours.

Our coverage was noticed early on by the only other consistent source of information — a message board topic on Race-Dezert.com — and even became the topic of banter for a while. Several users pointed to our URL, told folks to go tell the people at Jim Beam how cool it was, etc. The high compliment of it all was they were quoting our Tweets, sometimes verbatim, to update their community of followers.

Some quotes (and I swear they weren’t planted and I didn’t pay them):

“This is the only feed I have found that at least gives some info.” — dez rider, Las Vegas, Nev.

“The Twitter Dude ROCKS!!! Funny as hell and very informative.” — chaser4racers, Yorba Linda, Calif.

“Tweeter Dude is the best thing to happen to this race!!! LOL” — evi, Mxl, Baja

“E-mailed Jim Beam last night and told them what a great job twitter dude has done.” — tpgn00, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

“Twitter Dude back next year? RG needs to take this guy to DAKAR!” — chaser4racers

This was all contained on a message thread with 4,540+ posts and, to date 512,000 views. So if you thought forums and message boards weren’t as attention-rich anymore, you should reconsider.

Finding numbers on how many eyeballs saw the Twitter tracker was more challenging. The RGM team had some administrative issues with their hosting service and could only supply an estimate of 8-10,000 unique visitors. Dirtnewz.com also carried the feed. They haven’t been able to get us visitor numbers to date.

And then there’s the audience on Twitter, which we know included 365 logged-in followers at race’s end (there are 416 now). I’ve emailed and phoned repeatedly to see if they might be able to provided visit statistics to the Robby Gordon page for the two days of the race, but Twitter hasn’t responded. Whether this is because they don’t care to help us or because I previously blogged about my disappointment they did nothing to promote the effort within their own community (How tough would a Twitter blog post have been, guys?) is unknown. Did I mention they haven’t responded to repeated calls and emails?

Sorry. It bugs me.

Still, we have some measurements of the conversations the program created. Our friends at Radian6, who I’ll be blogging more about in the coming weeks as I enter a more formal relationship with them in my role at Doe Anderson, volunteered to provide some top-line measurements of our Beam Baja Twitter Tracker. (Radian6 blogs here.)

Looking at the 30-Day Conversation Series image below, where the number of “posts” indicates the number of conversations across the spectrum of millions of blogs and hundreds of forums, the profiles for “Jim Beam” “Baja 1000” and “Robby Gordon” all received impressive spikes in mentions during the week prior to and during the race. Jim Beam, showed in the red line, got a 14 post count when Q-3 earnings were announced Oct. 36. It earned 15 on two different days during the week of Baja.

30 Day Comparison - Radian6

The 14-Day Comparison below shows the aggregate of the two-week period from Nov. 2 to 16, 2007. The Baja 1000 was a topic or mention in nearly 360 blog or forum posts. Robby Gordon was mentioned or the topic of nearly 240 (2/3) of those with Jim Beam included in over 180 (more than half). By virtue of contrast, race winner Mark Post was mentioned in less than 20. The weeks prior to this time frame show an average of less than five posts per day for Jim Beam, Robby Gordon and Baja 1000, which would equate to around 70 posts. This indicates the program is responsible for more than doubling the conversation occurrence (or buzz) about Jim Beam and/or Robby Gordon.

14 Day Comparison - Radian6

And, because Richard McInnis and the gang at Radian6 know how to make a prospective client feel important, I decided to include the seven-day graphic below which shows that a certain handsome fat man, who has never driven an off-road vehicle, got a considerable more about of play in conversations about this issue than did Post, the race winner. Unbelievable.

7 Day Compare - Radian6

The pre-race video on YouTube had 5,500 total views at race’s end as well (it now has over 17,000), exposing Robby’s Jim Beam and Twitter messaging to additional consumers.

Overall, the response from Beam, Robby Gordon Motorsports, the off-road racing community and the social media trade folks who kept an eye on it (thanks to all of you who blogged about it) has been overwhelmingly positive. For the record, Jim Beam did receive one email from someone swearing off Twitter because of Beam’s involvement, but they weren’t clear on exactly why. Beam received at least one other that I know of praising the effort and I can count at least three individuals who are now following me that likley signed up for Twitter because of the Robby Gordon connection.

We are currently working on planning for next month’s Dakar Rally which will include elements of our Baja program, but change a bit because of the nature of the race. It’s an 18-day endurance race the stages of which are run while most of the U.S. is asleep, so 20 or so Tweets an hour like Baja isn’t exactly practical.

In the end, everyone seems pleased with the success of the program, even if measurement is only anecdotal. And my measurement of success? Both Beam Racing and Robby Gordon Motorsports are thinking of ways to implement microblogging technology into their entire 2008 communications thinking. I say we can raise a glass to the effort.

[tags]measurement, Beam Baja Twitter Tracker, Beam Racing, social media, Twitter, Baja 1000, Robby Gordon, Jason Falls, Twitter Tracker[/tags]

IMAGES: Twitter screen shot from RobbyGordon.com. Metrics images courtesy of Radian6.


About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).