Nissan’s Social Strategy Case Study–And It’s An Ad, Too

Digiday recently published an interesting case study.   It’s a “combo platter.”  First of all it’s an interesting and somewhat objective view of how, during a new car model launch, Nissan’s social media team reached out to people who post often about style and design.  These people have lots of followers on their blogs and social networks like Twitter and Pinterest, and are therefore considered to be influential with their followers.  Hence, the descriptive term “social influencers.”Digiday

As many of you know, I’m wary of the notion of social influencers because the influence these popular people wield is often very narrow or even non-existent.  If Emma Stone or Jimmy Fallon told me to buy a Nissan would I listen? But here’s an interesting case study that includes social influencers from a range of social networks, including Pinterest, probably the hottest social network right now.

The second combo point is this article is an example of “native advertising.” That’s the media industry term for a piece of content written and developed by a brand and then run in the middle of a site’s own newsfeed.  The only difference from a “real” news story is a small flag that says something like, “sponsored content.” Today all the big guns have native advertising products—the Wall Street Journal.com, LinkedIn, Buzzfeed, etc. Here’s the Digiday story: http://bit.ly/1hQ9nYw And here’s how it appeared on the home page of Digiday: 140429 Nissan Social Influencer Post Digiday RJM

I think there’s a lot to be done with native advertising.   Once I get over my squimishness from years as a wretch in the newspaper business.  Any client who aspires to thought leadership, any client with a new cool case study, anything related to what’s currently in the news are a few of the ways we can use native advertising as a platform for our story-telling.

One big rule is “don’t sell!” These aren’t pitches.   Often the product or brand is mentioned only as a piece of a bigger story.  Sometimes it’s really an objective news story but someone from the brand is quoted as an expert. This kind of product has been a part of newspapers and magazines for a long time.  Remember the full-page article with a border and at the top the faint, 9 pt. word, “advertisement?”

All major US publications and especially online news or social sites have some form of native advertising or sponsored posts.  LinkedIn and Pinterest are becoming big players in these products.  With a reported 64% of all social traffic from business domains going to LinkedIn, that could be a huge boost for that network.

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About Rohn Jay Miller

I'm a strategic designer who works with clients who are transforming their business models because of change brought on by the Internet. Solving disruption is often a problem and an opportunity at the same time. Previously I was a founding partner of Ikonic/USWeb in San Francisco, and Senior Vice President--Product & Technology for Knight Ridder in San Jose.

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