He added: "It's not about tying a Facebook sale to a car sale.
Facebook may go away, Twitter may go away, but social media isn't
going away. The expectation of owners and fans of being able to
interact with the brand is set in stone."
While some companies have taken tepid steps with new media and
others haven't quite figured out how best to utilize the myriad
platforms -- General Motors Co.,
for instance, pulled $10 million in display ads on Facebook but
continues to develop social media campaigns -- Nissan has thrived
in social media. Zuum, an internet venture that tracks Facebook
engagement for restaurant, travel and automotive companies, found
that Nissan had the highest consumer-engagement percentage on its
brand page of any automaker.
In the past year, Nissan has added nearly 700,000 "likes" since
Mr. Marx took over the social-media marketing in 2011, and is
poised to go over 1 million sometime in mid-July -- all for less
than a $500,000 budget.
"I can't disagree with what GM did because we don't spend that
much in that space either," Mr. Marx said. "But we do spend in the
space and we will continue to do so. I don't believe in (spending)
$10 million but I don't want to zero it out, either. Everybody at
Nissan understands the social space is different and quirky."
Nissan has multiple social-media plans for all five of its
The company will launch "Innovation Garage" later this summer,
an interactive space on the Altima Facebook brand page where
consumers can offer up their own car ideas for possible
For Altima, Nissan conducted a contest asking entrants for a
100-word essay on they should be one of five people chosen to test
-drive the new model at the automaker's Arizona proving grounds,
including what they would do if they were selected. Five people
were chosen, and their videos will start appearing on Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube -- including one man who promised to propose to
his girlfriend if he was chosen.
Pathfinder and Sentra models will be introduced later this fall.
Sentra's social-media exposure will be geared around college
football and Nissan's sponsorship of the Heisman Trophy. Nissan is
also working with a well-known comedy troupe that it declined to
identify, in which it will give a Pathfinder to the comedians and
"let them focus on doing something fun and lighthearted, because
that 's what tends to grab people in the social space," Mr. Marx
The two other launches -- yet to be revealed -- will be
introduced late this year and early next year.
Nissan is looking to piggyback off its May sales, which were up
20.5% compared to its May 2011 performance. Nonetheless, that was
off about 7% from analyst expectations.