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Best Practices from Nissan's Use of Social Media to Secure Advanced Sales of the Leaf
General Motors’ use of social media to bring consumers inside the development of the VOLT has long been one of the shining examples of how brands can use social media to build excitement in advance of a product launch. But Nissan’s social media campaign for its electric car, The Leaf, might become the shining example for the automotive industry on how the use of social media can help you meet your sales quota before launch.
With a heavy social media campaign (a dedicated Facebook page, Twitter handle, online video tours and interviews), Nissan has pushed the Leaf into the spotlight as the first mass produced, 100 % electric car coming to America.
With more than 80,000 fans, Nissan’s Leaf Facebook page serves as the hub for Nissan’s social media content with links to video tours, info on car features and photos, etc. With a steady stream of updates, Nissan does a good job of keeping fan’s appetite for information satiated. The page also demonstrates a few unique approaches the make this social media campaign stand out from the rest:
Is Nissan’s use of social media working? It’s captured a big chunk of the green car discussion and has pre-sold 20,000 cars in North America, which is Nissan’s entire production line for 2011.
Give content to your fans before it hits the airwaves – To reward passionate and loyal fans, as well as encourage more sharing, Nissan premiered its Lance Armstrong Leaf commercial on Facebook before it hit TV during the Tour de France.
Post photos that fans would want to use as profile pictures – Nissan offered a variety of images and instructions for fans on how to use the photos as their Facebook photo or avatar picture on any other social network, and encouraged people to comment about which badge they chose and where they posted it to track ROI. What’s important to note here is that Nissan understood what gets attention and shared in social media and offered fans humorous images with subtle branding like “Don’t half gas it.”
Appeal to early adopters with exclusivity – Nissan has used social media to turn a traditional test drive into highly anticipated and sought after events. Fans on Facebook can sign up for a test drive of the Leaf as part of the “drive electric tour” across the country. Taking it a step further, after registering for a test drive, fans are encourage to create a video about why they deserve to win a free LEAF and get their social networks to vote for them. One winner is chosen at each stop. This approach creates a sense of exclusivity about the test drives and also pushes fans to create content that helps spread the word and excitement about the Nissan Leaf.
It's Not Always About You - The Art of Conversation in Social Media
How many of your Twitter updates or Facebook posts are broadcasting company news or product information?
A recent Advertising Age article, “When It Comes to Facebook, Relevance May Be Redefined,” how successful brands on Facebook and Twitter are finding the happy medium between promotional posts and simple chatter.
Brands are quickly discovering that consumers following them on social networks want to see more than just posts about product launches, awards or events. Social networks provide an outlet for people who love to talk. Simple questions asking “Where is your favorite place to vacation?” or “What is your favorite junk food?” instantly engage consumers and stir up conversation.
Take this example: On Veteran's Day, BlackBerry posted a simple holiday-related message that received nearly 8,000 likes and more than 500 comments, many of which consisted of veterans thanking the brand and posting their PINs, allowing others to contact them via BlackBerry messenger. Reaction to that update far outpaced other recent ones concerned with products or tips.
What’s particularly unique about the power of this simple post is that the calendar-driven update spurred engagement that had relevancy both to followers and the brand. Clearly veterans were a big chunk of their fan base and the update created an opportunity for veterans to connect by sharing their Blackberry messenger PINs – this chatter likely was shared within the veteran’s own networks, driving interest from other veterans in liking the Blackberry page to share their PINs or learn more about the messaging system. Great chatter with impact.
While other examples in the Ad Age article also demonstrate the power of conversation and how ROI is measured by different companies, the key is an artful combination of audience and company relevancy that does more than increase follower base it drives business impact through engagement that generates useful feedback, sharing that drives traffic and calls to action.
Tool Time: Salesforce Chatter Goes Freemium
At Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference, the company unveiled a free version of Chatter, its internal social collaboration tool. Chatter uses a model similar to Facebook where employees can create profiles, update their status and share files and data, with the goal of democratizing information, encouraging collaboration on projects and speeding decision making. This provides employees with a transparent, real-time feed of what’s going on in their company.
Dell has deployed Chatter on a large scale with 113,000 employees using the social network. Chairman and CEO Michael Dell recently relied heavily on Chatter to bring employees from two departments together to carry through on a sale.
Businesses that are using the paid version of Chatter ($15/month) will have access to tools to track business data that freemium company members will not.
Social networks for enterprises aren’t new; there are offerings from large vendors like Cisco and Microsoft to small companies like Spigit, Yammer and Socialtext. According to Salesforce, it’s not competitive with the large vendors, and is focused primarily on workplace teams handling customer and sales problems.
Although Salesforce now offers Chatter for free, the paid model can still be beneficial given its potential to track business data and integrate with any of Salesforce’s existing CRM capabilities. The freemium service also has some interesting implications thanks to impending integration with brand monitoring and social media management tools like HootSuite. Once rolled out, there will be tremendous benefits to having your external monitoring portal linked closely with internal team chats to speed action on customer prospects or service needs.
That said, internal micro blogs and social collaboration tools tend to fail without a critical mass of users. This is something Salesforce has addressed head on at its own company by rewarding the employees who are making the best contributions on the network. In an on-stage conversation with Forbes Associate Editor Victoria Barret at the NetWork conference in San Francisco, Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said “Some workers might add as much value to the company as do high-level executives, and should be paid accordingly. You, as an individual contributor, can receive the same compensation -- stock, cash -- as an executive vice president.”
You can check out the conversations taking place about Chatter on Twitter here.