Watch what you tweet

The opening-lap elimination of three of the top four qualifiers at the F1 Singapore Grand Prix provided the most dramatic moment of the Formula 1 season so far.

But before Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen or Max Verstappen had even climbed out of their cars, an tweet posted by @ScuderiaFerrari ensured that the fall-out on social media would be immense – for 24 hours, at least.


Tweeting simply ‘VER took #Kimi7 out and then he went to #Seb5 #SingaporeGP’ the person with the keys to the team’s account proved how a careless use of language can create a very unwelcome storm. As soon as the incident happened, the tweet laid the blame firmly at the feet of Red Bull racer Verstappen.

Yet, six-and-a-half thousand responses to this tweet showed just how vehemently an engaged F1 audience wanted to take issue with this assertion.

Ferrari, whose reputation as poor communicators precede them, did themselves no favours by reinforcing their position three-and-a-half hours later with a follow-up tweet.

The underlying message was clearly ‘what do you know from your armchairs? And also stop slating us.’

This not only angered the fair-minded individuals who simply disagreed with the earlier pronouncement, but also fed the all-too-common trolls, who couldn’t resist the temptation to take things up a notch. Former F1 driver Mark Webber (fair-minded, not a troll) even responded curtly with:


Unlike press releases, tweets don’t go through several layers of team management for sign-off before publication; there simply isn’t time for that.

This, in turn, means that a social media manager must shoulder considerable responsibility; especially when the account they administer has nearly two million followers (an audience around 100,000 times larger than your average media database).

Ferrari’s response to the incident was not only badly-judged (presuming it wasn’t simply lost in translation); it was arrogant and incendiary. And yet the whole scenario could have been all-so-easily avoided.

A factual tweet describing the incident when it happened would have read more like ‘Contact between VER, #Kimi7 and #Seb5. Both Ferraris out.’ Notice the difference? Same incident reported, but no blame apportioned until more of the facts were known.

To avoid a similar situation arising on your watch, here’s a few tips from us;

  1. Make sure your facts are just that. FACTS.
  2. Leave it to someone else to apportion blame; the event officials or even your driver or team through a direct quote. If it’s their truly-held belief that someone was in the wrong then let them express it, but be sure to explain the positives and negatives of doing so to them first.
  3. If you do feel compelled to apportion blame, be prepared to apologise immediately if you get it wrong.
  4. Should you end up with a situation like Ferrari, don’t ‘like’ or retweet any comments. You don’t want to look like you’re fanning the flames by reinforcing an already unpopular position.

If you want more advice on the appropriate use of social media in motorsport and how to avoid landing yourself in hot water, then get in touch with us today.


How to handle bad publicity

While we all hope that everyone will only say nice things about us, sadly it’s not always the case.

Sometimes you will do something wrong, or – perhaps more importantly – someone will feel you’ve done something wrong, and the result will be a tonne of bad publicity.

It’s vital to plan now for what might happen in the future and how you will handle it. To get you started, here are our top tips for dealing with bad publicity:

Plan in advance

Depending on what your business is or does, you can consider what could go wrong with a relative level of ease. For example, if you’re a motorsport team, think about the potential for accidents on the track, contract disputes with drivers or sponsors, or a team member saying something out-of-line on social media; all of which have the potential to cause bad publicity.

By setting out how to approach a variety of problems, you’ll ensure that you’re better prepared for when a time of crisis or uncertainty occurs.

Have someone on your side

Working alongside a PR agency, such as Top Step Communications, is invaluable during times of bad publicity. Firstly, our proactive PR work will have already ensured that there is a regular stream of good, positive news about you widely available, meaning we can be certain that people won’t only be hearing negative things about you.

Secondly, when something does occur, our team of experts will be quick to react. We’ll know what to say when, through which channels to say it, who in your organisation should say it and how they should deliver it. Every detail needs to be considered and our years of experience means we can advise you accordingly.

Alternatively, you don’t have to work with us on a regular basis to have assistance when things go wrong. If you find yourself in a crisis situation and subjected to bad publicity, get in touch immediately. We can help you quickly and simply to assist as soon as possible.

Don’t say too much

A deluge of negative messages through social media makes it all too tempting to defend yourself via the same platform. But there’s real danger in saying too much. Have one statement, deliver it and then leave it there.

Of course, you should monitor the reaction and decide how to respond if you see inaccurate reporting. Each situation requires a judgement on how or what to say, but in times of crisis, less can sometimes be more.

Learn from it

Don’t just pretend it never happened; instead examine exactly what did occur. Think about the actions that enhanced your reputation and those that simply increased the negative publicity. Taking onboard the lessons will ensure that you are prepared for the next time.

And don’t be afraid to get back out there and start promoting yourself positively again – it’s one of the key things you must do after a period of bad publicity.

If you’d like to chat to us about how we can help to promote your business in the best ways then get in touch today!

Social media for a small business in motorsport

While social media is becoming ever more essential for businesses, it’s simply not effective if not used properly.

For some small businesses, especially those in the motorsport industry, social media can be hard to master. Perhaps you feel you don’t have enough to say – or maybe you do, but you don’t have enough time to say it. Whatever the reason, here are our handy tips for how small businesses can get the most out of social media:

Promote your products

If you sell physical products, either within the industry itself or to fans of the sport, then social media is a great platform on which you can show them off. You can share pictures of what you sell, retweet customer praise and showcase everything you have to offer. It’s an extremely cheap and effective way to have an online catalogue of your product range.

Announce something new

If you’re launching a new product or service then social media is a great place to announce it. With the fast-moving nature of social channels, there’s an immediacy to anything posted and that’s great for anything new or fresh. You can even tease it beforehand, building up a level of expectation or excitement ahead of your announcement.

You can go behind the scenes

Social media is a far more intimate and personal platform than your website and as such it’s a great place to lift the curtain and show more about what is happening behind the scenes. Share photos, videos or anecdotes about what is happening in your workplace to give customers more of an understanding about who you are.

You can make business connections

Social media isn’t just somewhere to find customers; you can also find business allies as well. Small businesses in motorsport are all trying to find their footing on social media and build up their follower numbers, so follow someone else and they are likely to reciprocate. You never know what services you might find someone has that you need and vice versa.

Get involved in a community

There are an increasing number of online groups forming across social media, particularly ones focused on small businesses, so take a look and see if there are any relevant to you. These can be really helpful either as a sounding board or as a place to be able to promote what you do.

Remember to be social!

One of the biggest challenges motorsport businesses face on social media is ensuring channels aren’t too promotional. Social means having conversations, reading what others are writing and engaging and posting regularly. This all takes time and effort – a popular social media channel won’t just appear overnight.

So, if this is something that you just don’t have time for then this is where we can come in. Our social media experts have worked with plenty of businesses to help them produce Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles with high and engaged follower numbers and regular conversions to their websites. If you think that we could help your small business boost your social media channels then get in touch with us today to find out more.