Nissan Social Media: Build it and Get Out of the WayOn the even of the Facebook IPO in 2012, GM announced they were pulling their Facebook ads . Their argument was age old the lack of return-on-investment.

An article in PR Daily, boldly states they aren’t measuring ROI in their social media efforts. They are more focused on customer experience and service.

It’s not news that the marketing model has changed from a message broadcast to a conversation. Corporations, the large automakers included, have the ability to now be involved with the conversation, and Nissan is taking that seriously.

Conversations are taking place throughout the Internet about services and products. Putting your head in the sand and staying away because you want to avoid negative comments and feedback no longer works, because it will happen whether or not your involved.

So Why Not Be Involved?

Nissan has launched social media campaigns for all of their models since 2012. They have always included things such as Facebook contests, video submissions, and an Innovation Garage, a forum that involves their fans in the process of new products by allowing them to pitch new ideas.

An interview conduced by Brian Solis with, David Mingle, director of customer management at Nissan and Erich Marx, brand, sales and marketing director, discuss the approach.

Nissan dipped into social media in 2010 with limited support in terms of budget, but interest from the C-Suite. In 2011, Marx’s position was developed with the direction to dive in and establish themselves in the automotive sector as a leader understanding this the future.

Right now, they are tracking growth of the community; and not just likes and followers. They are tracking engagement and comments.

This type of measurement is more meaningful than just the number of fans because it means you have to grow the community with people who are passionate about you and your product and you need to work to maintain that relationship once you’ve earned the like.

To paraphrase Marx, it’s easy to add a lot of followers and likes by running a big contest, but you want to focus on quality over quantity; not just the guy that wants to win a free iPad.

When they get into a bigger investment in digital marketing, at that point, they’ll be held accountable to ROI, but they aren’t there yet.

The Nissan Social Media Philosophy

Nissan is engaging and interacting with a custom social CRM platform. Through this, they can manage their various communities – identify advocates and detractors and learn how to deal with them.

Both David and Erich make some interesting admissions that they don’t understand completely understand the space. They build cars, not technology. But they are being agile, flexible, and learning a lot along the way.

The philosophy is to build the community and step back, stoking the conversation now and then by feeding some content and watching what happens, letting them run with it. This approach has created more online advocates who have become their best sales people yet.

It’s been an unexpected journey for the two men and their teams. They said they’ve learned and are learning a lot along the way; the community has been a great resource for product research and development, as well as customer support.

“Customers don’t call the 1-800 number anymore. They go onto Facebook and register their comments and complaints.”

And Nissan has adapted their business model accordingly.

What do you think of this approach?