Nissan had tapped Facebook for its short-term marketing promotion but it now uses it as a source of engagement in the social media. According to Erich Marx, Nissan's director of social media marketing, the Gran Turismo Academy and other performance-focused social media content leads to three times as much engagement (which is calculated by “likes” and comments) when compared to lifestyle-oriented content.
Just last week, the GT Academy promotion was completed with Nissan North America and Sony working together. It also made one online gamer’s dreams come true as he is now a real-life race driver.
An online contest was launched last December that found the most skilled players of the Gran Turismo 5Playstation3 racing video game. The top 16 were put on the Silverstone race circuit in the United Kingdom to compete in a week of real-world racetrack training. The 25,000 followers of Nissan's GT Academy Facebook page received regular updates.
The winner signed a one-year contract as a driver on Nissan's race team. He will be on training together with pro racers to prepare for an endurance event with a pro race team in 2012.
Marx said that when there’s a post about a 350Z, the GT-R, or the GT Academy, the engagement levels “spike in a big way.” Nissan has pages filled with information about its brands and vehicles on Facebook. Its overall page has gotten about 250,000 "likes."
Nissan expects to use social media as a relationship-marketing and research tool. For instance, Nissan’s product planning department can get access to what customers have said about the Juke on its Facebook pages.