Nissan is using Facebook to turn a typical short-term marketing promotion into a source of social media engagement.
Last week Nissan North America, working with Sony, completed its Gran Turismo Academy promotion, which turned one skilled online gamer into a real-life race driver.
It started with an online contest in December that found the fastest players of the Gran Turismo 5 Playstation3 racing video game. The top 16 then competed in a week of real-world racetrack training at the Silverstone race circuit in the United Kingdom. Updates were posted to the 25,000 followers of Nissan's GT Academy Facebook page.
The winner got a one-year contract as a driver on Nissan's race team and will train with pro racers in preparation for an endurance event with a pro race team next year.
Erich Marx, Nissan's director of social media marketing, says the GT Academy and other performance-focused social media content generates three times as much engagement -- defined as comments on a post and "likes" -- than lifestyle-oriented content.
"When we post something about a 350Z or the GT-R or this GT Academy, the engagement levels spike in a big way," he adds.
Nissan also has brand- and vehicle-specific Facebook pages, with about 250,000 "likes" for the brand's overall page.
Nissan plans to use social media as a relationship-marketing and research tool. For example, customer feedback about what Juke owners liked, or didn't like, about the vehicle can be pulled from Facebook and fed to the product planning department.