Erich Marx, Director of Consumer-Facing Interactive and Digital Media at Nissan, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss the process of managing a huge, multinational brand’s presence in the digital sphere; measuring results when they don’t necessarily translate directly into sales; and creating innovative experiences to keep customers engaged.

Read on for some of the highlights and tweetable moments, or listen to the full podcast.

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Tweetable Moments

“It’s more about interaction than transaction.” -@emarxe (tweet this)

Creating Brand Advocacy

When Erich was asked to take over Nissan‘s digital marketing, his assignment was as vague as “Put Nissan on the social map.” Over the past two years, he has built the position into what it is today: “It’s all about building advocacy for the Nissan brand.” The idea is to build connections through the various platforms, not only with prospective customers but also with current Nissan owners.

Erich’s team is a conglomeration of in-house talent and agency support. The management expertise is all centered within Nissan – people like Erich who run the overall strategy and make decisions.

For specific arms of the different types of campaigns, there are corresponding agencies who pick up the slack. TBWACHIATDAY handles the specific vehicle campaigns and consumer-facing social activity. A social PR agency handles the brand-building efforts, like the global auto shows that are more about the brand of Nissan and less about the actual vehicles. They also handle blogger outreach and social press.

Still yet another agency handles the multi-cultural aspect of the brand. Nissan is one of the few multi-national car companies with a dedicated Hispanic presence. It’s not just about taking the regular US English content and translating it into Spanish; that doesn’t work. “It’s more about Hispanic culture and Hispanic interests and Hispanic themes. It’s a mix of language between English and Spanish.”

And when it comes to measuring success, it’s not as simple as looking at how many cars they’ve sold through Twitter (hint: it’s probably not very many). Erich gives his executives credit because they “all understand we’re not going to be selling a whole lot of cars through social media.” Instead, they look at engagement levels. Is Nissan adding value to people’s feeds? They also look at whether issues are being resolved, whether they’re answering the questions that people ask. Are people happy with the experience they’re getting? Is Nissan building brand loyalty?

“Maybe the most interesting,” Erich says, “is that we don’t measure how many cars we sold in social.”

Social Media Stat of the Week: Only 4.2% ad spending is in Internet

For those of us who live, breathe, and work in the social sphere, this may be somewhat surprising: according to Nielsen’s most recent quarterly Global AdView Pulse report, Internet ads account for only 4.2% of global ad expenditures. That means money is being sent to TV, newspapers, magazines, outdoor, and even radio advertising before it’s getting spent on Internet advertising.

In the grand scheme of things, this may not actually be so shocking. We all know that television ad spending still holds a huge market share (more than half, actually). But it’s a helpful reminder that traditional media is not quite as dead as we may let ourselves think.

Jeff says, “We’d better be leveraging those traditional channels, those mass media channels, to build our direct Internet channels.”

But people will actually spend more time online this year than they spend watching television. There is a fundamental disconnect between where our ad dollars are going and where the eyes are.

“It’s the same thing we saw with websites 15 years ago,” Erich says. Social media will get integrated into the “traditional” media sphere. “Eventually it’ll all just be one again, until the next bright shiny object shows up.”

And then the Telepathy Department will be on their own.

Holy Social!

What has over 1 billion users and is about to overtake Facebook? It’s a platform you have probably never heard of: China’s Tencent and its media messaging app WeChat.

At the same time that Facebook has been losing teen users, messaging apps like WeChat and WhatsApp have been growing. And WeChat’s impact is not limited to China; overseas users have doubled to 100 million since May.

So what are they doing right?

It seems that WeChat has fused together the best parts of the open social networks like Twitter – anyone can follow anyone – and the closed social networks like Facebook, where you are connected with mutual friends. Add that to some fun friend-discovering features (shake your phone and get connected to anyone else who is shaking their phone at that exact moment, like a virtual handshake), and that seems to be their recipe for success.

Four Your Information

How did you get involved with social media?
Erich had used social media as a consumer, but Nissan appointed him to his digital marketing position from his former traditional marketing role. His formal social media training was on-the-job.

What do you like best about social media?
He loves the ever-changing rules. “There is no guru, there is no expert, because every six weeks, every six months, the game changes.”

What do you like least about social media?
“I think there are a lot of companies out there that claim to be able to do things in the social space that maybe they can’t.” The self-proclaimed gurus become tiresome, especially when there is an entire industry of them and they don’t necessarily know how to do it better than other people.

If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?
Paul McCartney. Erich is a singer and guitar player in a band. “If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I would hire the best musicians in town and make a record of all the songs I’ve written over the years.”

See you next week!

About the Jay Baer:

Jay Baer is a hype-free social media and content strategist & speaker, and author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype. Jay is the founder of and host of the Social Pros podcast.

Put Yourself on the Social Map: From Vagueness to Greatness is a post from: Convince and Convert: Social Media Strategy and Content Marketing Strategy

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