The importance of being first – at Le Mans or on Facebook

When you drive a prototype in the 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans, in the bucolic West of France, the only aim is to take the chequered flag. For the social media team that keeps motor races fans informed, being first is also what you must fight for.

Speed is key

«Speed is key for us. Our main concern is to publish images before all others, because, if we don’t, somebody else will and then we lose a huge share of our online audience », says Erwan Gervais, multimedia coordinator for the World Endurance Championship (WEC).

This is the reason why the motor sports organisation decided to work with YuzzitPro. « When I started working with the WEC back in 2014 », recalls Juliet Zhu, «publishing content for the social networks was quite fastidious ».

Ms Zhu, who is the WEC’s community manager, details the burdensome process. « Our official photographer stood in the first curve after the start. And he waited there for a few laps, because at the beginning the peloton is still very compact, and you get interesting pictures. Then he had to rush to the newsroom on a bicycle, choose his pictures and upload them.  Then he noticed us by mail and we had to download and edit them before posting on Facebook or Twitter ».

All in all, it took almost three quarters of an hour to have some images of the start.

Very short videos

The WEC first tested YuzzitPro in April 2016 during the 6 Hours of Silverstone. Since then, it has been a standard feature for the 9 endurance races it organises each season around the world. Another solution provided by a competitor has been tried out but it lacked functionalities.

« We discovered the YuzzitPro solution just when we wanted to increase our presence on the social networks with gifs and short videos», says Jean-François Alard, the WEC’s NTIC manager.

Motor sports enthusiasts want to watch starts, finishes and the main highlights of a race, including spectacular overtakes and crashes.  A typical video is 15 seconds long, except for on-track battles that can last up to 40 or 45 seconds.

« Viewers want to watch battles, and then when there is a crash, the audience is growing », says Alard. « But we must be careful to find the proper balance between emotion for the fans and respect for the drivers. »

Multiscreen generation

The younger motor sports fans do not just watch their favorite races on TV. « They are the multiscreen generation », says Juliet Zhu. « They also have a smartphone and an iPad to follow the action. So, we must feed the social networks. We must look for original content from the pit lane or the paddocks ».

For instance, one of the latest successes of the WEC’s social network team was the short video of a Porsche mechanic at Silverstone. Since WEC regulations only allow two mechanics to change tyres, he removes a wheel with one hand and puts the new wheel with the other hand. The viral video, quickly produced with YuzzitPro, generated hundreds of thousands of views.