Dale Earnhardt Jr.Enlarge Photo
There are a lot of misconceptions about social media. For example, we -- meaning a general We, the People -- often assume that everyone under 40 uses Facebook, and that they all use it the same way. However, we now know that certain populations came to Facebook late, and that it's not the be-all, end-all social network for every demographic. We also assume that NASCAR fans and pickup owners shun the web, though in fact, they're avidly internet participants; they simply prefer focused forum communities over more open networks.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that someone as young and gadget-friendly as Dale Earnhardt Jr. has become a big fan of the social web -- although to his credit, Earnhardt's approach isn't the usual one-two, Twitter-Facebook punch most celebs and corporations employ.
Auto racing is fueled by two things: gasoline and corporate sponsorships. So it's only appropriate that one of Dale Jr.'s biggest corporate sponsors, Amp Energy Drinks, has put together a website that lets him (and other sponsored celebs) shine -- all while promoting the company's products, of course.
Despite the mandatory shilling, Dale Jr. seems to love the intimacy the web allows and the ease of activities like web chats:
Now you have something going on every day of the week. You feel like you're trying to get through everything. There's a lot less of a connection mentally, and a lot less personal feel to each individual in the line. With the online stuff, it's obviously not a face-to-face meeting but a much more comfortable setting because I'm in a place where I was in my office and felt candid. The fans were watching from their living room. It was a lot more relaxed.
However, he's also very conscious of what he puts out there. Although Earnhardt isn't too concerned with privacy -- as a celeb, he has very little of that to begin with -- he does like to make sure that he's in control of his message. Which is why he hasn't joined the Twitter leagues just yet:
I'm not really worried about the privacy part of it. It's just sticking your foot in your mouth and being misconstrued the wrong way. I just feel like knowing myself personally, I might make the mistake of saying something in the heat of the moment or out of that frustration that I regret. Once you do that (on Twitter), there's no taking it back.
Compared to certain famewhores who are happy to tweet even the most ridiculous nonsense if it earns them some attention, Earnhardt's words aren't just wise: they're a lesson to be followed. Here's a great example of Earnhardt at work on the web, just as he likes it: