This Is May: Social Strategy Drives Marketing Results


Social media. Quite possibly the most valuable innovation of the century. Developing a social media strategy is crucial in growing your brand and increasing fan engagement. The burning question is “How?”

Organizations have vastly different budgets for the creation of content on social platforms. Those running with lean budgets need to get the biggest bang for their buck. It can take weeks, months, sometimes even years of collecting data and analyzing it to determine what exactly it is that consumers want to see. Thankfully, IUPUI’s Sports Innovation Institute set out to determine what types of posts have been most effective in engaging IndyCar fans across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

With the month of May in view at the Brickyard, let’s take a look back to 2018 at which teams and drivers score well on social media videos and what types of content perform the best.  

1. Amongst the top drivers, Josef Newgarden posted the greatest number of videos in May (n = 27) and acquired the greatest number of views per post.

Newgarten's top performing video in May was shared on the facebook platform. 

View social media videos by driver

2. Amongst teams, Ganassi Racing posted the most videos, but Schmidt Peterson was the only one to score above the average on engagement and views.

Schmidt Peterson's top video was shared on the facebook platform. 

View social media performance by team


3. Photos posted to Instagram generated over 500 more engagements on average than videos.

The trend also showed that Instagram is especially beneficial to drivers as they had more engagement on the platform than racing teams.

In terms of the content, photos that showed the life of the drivers away from the track fared significantly better than those that focused on the competitive aspects of racing. This shows that when it comes to photos on Instagram, fans value non-competition pictures from drivers more than anything else.

James Hinchcliffe’s 13 Instagram posts fared the best. Hinchcliffe's top post, and the best post the entire month, was a note to addressed to his fans.

View Instagram results for all teams, drivers, and venues

4. Facebook dominates in views, Instagram led in engagement.

Right off the bat, the most evident finding was how dominant Facebook was in comparison to the other two platforms when it came to views. Facebook videos acquired 4 times more views than Instagram and Twitter. Engagement was highest on Instagram. Given the reach and performance returns of the three platforms, it’s clear that auto sport demonstrates an overreliance on Twitter and should continue to aggressively create presence on Instagram. Facebook performed as expected, with the largest average views, given the fact it has twice as many users as Instagram.

Summary of Video Views by Platform


Number of Videos

Average Views

Average Engagement

U.S Monthly Active Viewers
















5. Non-competition videos performed better than non-competition videos, except for videos posted by the IMS.

Knowing where to upload the bulk of your posts is important, but what should these videos consist of? SII found that for both Drivers and Teams, non-competition videos performed much better than competition videos across all three platforms in both views and engagements. Non-competition videos were classified as videos that are less connected with the competitive aspect of racing. Generally, these videos are filmed somewhere other than the track, but could still be at the track.

The most popular type of non-competition videos on both Facebook and Instagram were “History” videos. These were classified as videos that showcase the history, accomplishments, or past works of the driver or team. These can also include “biography” pieces that are designed to make viewers aware of a driver’s background. Fans on Twitter on the other hand seemed to be more attracted towards “Inside Look” videos, or videos that give the viewer an in-depth look at the teams/drivers/track in non-competition settings.

View all video content types and results

6. For competition videos, highlights were the highest performing videos on all three platforms.

SII took it a step further and broke down the analytics of how highlight videos performed based on the location they were shot from and whether it was pre, during, or post-race. Highlight videos shot from the pit pre-race performed best on Facebook while videos shot from mixed locations and specifically the track during the race where the most viewed videos on Twitter and Instagram.   

View performance of all videos by platform and competition

The top performing video in the entire month of May was Kelly Clarkson singing the national anthem prior to the race in the pits. This video fell under every favorable category listed above and the numbers showed. Kelly Clarkson’s National Anthem racked up 1 million views with 46,268 engagements. That is 53x and 63x more than the average views and engagements respectively.

7. Humanization videos, or videos that showed the personality of the drivers beyond the competitive environment, accounted for 21% of all videos and outperformed non-humanization videos 2:1.

Racing is an individual sport and fan passion rests with drivers. Humanization videos are an important part to driver and team content strategies. The most engaged with humanization video in May was an Instagram video by Josef Newgarden.

8. Produced content outperforms organic content.

Putting together highlight videos with different clips, music pieces, interviews, and sometimes even scripts could take tons of effort and time. Is it worth the trouble, or should teams and drivers just publish more organic content? The answer is…yes 

By in large, produced content out performs organic content. The exception to this is for Driver engagement, where organic content garners more engagement. 

One of the top performing organic videos in May was Danica Patricks’ nosecone video.


With the month of May in view, drivers, teams, league, and track will all be vying for visibility through the use of video content on social media platforms. These findings should leave you with a better idea of what content best engages fans, and how organizations can use research to best deploy their resources to create content that matters.

A Note on the Methodology

SII developed a methodology to provide the most accurate data possible. Seven researchers from SII analyzed social media videos from racing teams and drivers to develop a coding protocol. They then formed coding teams consisting of six coders each who were trained on the protocol then independently coded 100+ videos each in order to test intercoder reliability. This ensured that the data that was collected was deemed reliable by multiple coders. Coding teams were responsible for tracking posts of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, teams, and drivers for the month of May. In total, these teams tracked the length, metrics, and views of 853 videos ––with over 16 million views collectively–– and 617 photos on Instagram exclusively with a total of 1.1 million likes.