At last look, Nissan's Facebook page had over 279,000 followers, and it's growing quickly. "Nissan brand Facebook Page and Nissan Twitter grew faster than any other OEM during the April 1st - June 30th quarter (at a rate of 37%)," Erich Marx, Nissan's Director of Marketing Communications, responsible for social media, told AutoTrader. Furthermore, he feels that the number of people asking questions on Nissan's Facebook page could double over the next year.

Even more interesting is the fact that more and more consumers are posing the type of questions on Nissan's Facebook page that would normally go to a 1-800 number.

It seems that customers no longer want to wait (or stay on hold) for information on the phone. According to Marx, it's faster to send an email, text or post on Facebook.

"There will be a day when people will go to Facebook as a preferred method. We are already seeing that number doubling every quarter," noted Marx.

"Based on what I've seen in 90 days, I can realize that this is something we are going to have to deal with in the future. As opposed to operators or help desks just waiting for a customer to complain, we need to have a Facebook presence to solve issues before they get bigger, and take a more pro-active role in identifying consumer issues or question," he said.

However, Marx confirmed that Nissan is not actively talking about shifting employees to social networking or changing call center operations just yet.

"We have adequate staffing now. A year from now?I don't know," he says. So far, Nissan's social media staff of 15 can handle the volume.

"In the old world, one customer would call one operator and issue a complaint, one to one and no one else would know about it. In the new world, when somebody posts a problem, issue or concern on Facebook there are 290,000 people who can see it. It's very public.

"It becomes more important that we handle the problem quickly and completely. In a 24-hour period you can turn a negative into a positive. And we see that people are very grateful. It's a different dynamic," he continued.

And what about making those complaints public? Marx explains that, while

there are certain bars that the company needs to set for appropriateness, if somebody wants to vent about Nissan or a particular car they have a forum.

"Many times we contact the customer and try to solve their issue. As a policy we don't remove negative posts because that's part of the game," he added.

Nissan's Facebook presence, which started in 2009 as a brand page, keeps evolving. They recently launched the Nissan Espanol Facebook page, which already has about 200 fans.

Next month, they will come out with a page supporting motorsports and sports car lovers. Marx says, "Our enthusiasts are just chomping at the bit to talk and discuss sports cars. We think Facebook is a natural fit."

author photo

Holly Reich writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on uptownlife.net.

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