Hamilton continues to surge on social media

Four-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton continues to remain far above the remainder of the Formula 1 field on social media, analysis of the three major platforms show.

At regular intervals during the year, this site crunches the number of followers each Formula 1 driver and team, along with key championships has across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hamilton leads the way
As has been the case for many years, Hamilton leads at the front of the field, growing his reach faster than all his rivals. With a cumulative audience of 16.30 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Hamilton now has nearly 10 million more followers than his nearest championship contender.

To show the scale of Hamilton’s reach, the drivers placed from 2nd to 5th in the social media standings bring in a combined following of 16.43 million followers. In social media terms, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, and Sergio Perez equal Hamilton, showing how the Brit on social media transcends the motor sport audience, and why F1 needs to tap into said audience.

Formula 1’s loss is likely to be IndyCar’s gain where Alonso is concerned in 2019, presenting the American series with an excellent opportunity to capitalise on Alonso’s broad reach in the same way they did with last year’s Indianapolis 500. From 2019, Verstappen will be Formula 1’s next big thing on social media behind Hamilton and Ricciardo. But both Red Bull drivers are currently no match for Hamilton on social media.

Social media - 2018-08 - F1 drivers gain
In the first half of 2018, Hamilton gained 1.29 million followers across the three main platforms, whilst Ricciardo and Verstappen gained 499,000 and 368,000 followers respectively. Currently, Verstappen’s contingent of fans is no match for Hamilton on Instagram, which is where most of Hamilton’s increase lies.

The further down the field you look, the slimmer the pickings get. As an example, Valtteri Bottas’ social media accounts gained 185,000 additional followers during the first half of 2018, which is a small number in the social media sphere. Considering millions of viewers worldwide watch these drivers every two weeks, are the gains considered poor, or expected now that social media is mature?

Following a poor start to the 2018 season, Williams driver Lance Stroll deleted his Instagram account in June, reducing his social media reach from 179,000 followers to 42,000 followers. The reality is though that Stroll never used his two active social media accounts. His Twitter was last updated in February 2017, whilst his team updated his Facebook last November.

Meanwhile, since joining Instagram at the end of last year, Kimi Raikkonen has amassed nearly one million followers. The Iceman’s reach of 833,000 followers places him tenth in the overall list of drivers, despite having no presence on either Facebook or Twitter! Raikkonen is the fifth most popular driver on the image sharing platform, only behind Hamilton, Alonso, Verstappen and Ricciardo.

Red Bull closes the gap on Mercedes
In the first half of 2018, Mercedes’ following across social media increased from 14.83 million across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to 15.03 million followers. Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren in comparison increased their following by around 900,000 followers.

The metrics suggest that Mercedes are close to hitting their roof, and struggling to attract new followers, even though the content produced is fantastic. There is a real possibility that, based on current growth figures, Red Bull will become the number one team on social media, at least based on the number of followers, within the next twelve months.

The perceived two-tier Formula 1 goes far beyond the race track, and into the social media metrics. Beyond the top four teams, the growth for the mid-field teams resembles a barren wasteland, with the remaining six teams attracting an average growth figure of 133,000 followers.

For a team nearer to the foot of the table, it is proving to be very difficult to make waves outside of the typical Formula 1 social media circles. Ask yourself this: how many teams go ‘the extra mile’ to produce something relevant to a general sporting audience as opposed to the motor racing fan who might already be following them?

Currently, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren are the big Formula 1 brands, although it will be interesting to see if Renault usurp McLaren on that front in 2019 with Ricciardo joining the Enstone outfit.

Roborace crashes
On the championship front, Roborace’s combined following has dropped by 15 percent over the course of the first half of 2018. From 2.82 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram last November, Roborace now has 2.37 million followers as of the end of July.

Social media - 2018-08 - percentage gain

The drop for the autonomous series, which has yet to begin, is a result of social media sites clamping down on suspicious accounts. Twitter has taken action recently to remove locked accounts from account follower numbers. Roborace has been prominent in this space in recent years, with their number of followers spiking at different times.

Further down the pecking order, Formula E has experienced a strong first half of 2018, culminating in the latter stages of its fourth season. The electric series has increased its combined audience from 584,000 followers to 893,000 followers, an increase of 52.9 percent.

IndyCar, the World Endurance Championship and Formula Two also recorded percentage increases of over 10 percent, but in the case of the latter, that equated to an increase of just 34,000 followers across the first half of 2018. Both Formula Two and their feeder GP3 have low numbers on Facebook, with 51,000 and 17,000 followers respectively.

Out in front, MotoGP continues to lead the way with a combined 21 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, although F1 has closed the gap, with a cumulative following now of 14.66 million.


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