This is part three of a three part series profiling how lesser known professional athletes are making a name for themselves in the world of Social Media.
Part Two:Â Marlins’ Morrison Makes Splash on Twitter
The sport of rally car racing may not have mass appeal in the United States, but with the recent inclusion into the X-Games in 2006, as well as the popular â€œColin McRae: Dirtâ€ video game series, the internationally dominated sport has been growing domestically.
A key figure in this American rally revolution is Ken Block. He is a professional rally driver and the Chief Brand Officer for sports apparel juggernaut DC Shoes. He is famously known for his highly-popular YouTube videos that have gained as many as 36 million views. His #43 Subaru Impreza is also featured on the cover of the popular video game Dirt 2. He can also be seen in his new Ford Fiesta rally car in the recentlyÂ releasedÂ sequel Dirt 3.
On the racing side, Ken Block is also the only American driver to compete in the World Rally Championships, one of the most popular motorsports events in the world. While success has been limited overseas, he has multiple top-five finishes on the USA circuit and most recently a silver medal at X-Games XIII.
While success on the track is important, Ken Block has separated himself as a brand through the use of social media. The success of his YouTube videos and the DC Shoes brand gained him notoriety in Sports Business Journalâ€™s â€œ40 under 40â€ and #17 on the list of â€œMost Influential People in Action Sportsâ€ in 2004.
His Facebook page has nearly two million fans, a number that rivals the likes of Lance Armstrong or Kevin Durant. He uses the page as his main avenue of connecting with fans whereas other athletes and celebrities tend to lean more towards Twitter. His fan base is highly interactive, sharing videos and photos across the web like a wildfire.
The most popular series of videos produced by Ken Block and DC Shoes are based on a type of motorsport called â€œGymkhanaâ€. It involves a highly-complicated rally course where drivers must memorize sharp turns and complete the course as quickly and with as few mistakes as possible. The result is an exhilarating mix of speed and skill that fans wonâ€™t see on the NASCAR ovals every weekend. He can also add a little “Hollywood” to the production making the finished product a spectacle for rally fans.
As of April 2011, the series had reached over 105 million total views and earned various awards from YouTube and web-marketing websites. Ken Block is a great example of how the potential power of YouTube for stars in the sports world is exponential. Sports that are growing must look to YouTube to help build popularity through viral marketing.