RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA: Nissan, the carmaker, believes that social media represents "table stakes" if it is to successfully differentiate its brand from other auto marques in the US.

Scot Cottick, senior manager/social media marketing at Nissan North America, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Digital & Social Media Conference.

More specifically, he reported that social sites like Facebook and Twitter increasingly represent "table stakes" in a crowded and competitive category.

"We have to look at it from a 360-degree perspective," he said. (For more, including practical examples of this idea, read Warc's exclusive report: Nissan's focus on social media is "table stakes".)

"And then, to be the best, we have to differentiate ourselves from Honda. We have to differentiate ourselves from Toyota. We have to do things that only Nissan can do. That's a serious filter that we talk about.

"How else are you going to differentiate who you are in such a competitive market?"

A few guidelines help point Nissan in the right direction on this channel, particularly when it comes to attracting and retaining the attention of its target clientele.

"When we think about social, we think about a couple of things. We think about engagement," Cottick said.

"And, in today's fast-paced world, if you're not creating engaging content, you're going to lose your audience.

"We're trying to bring the customer on a journey with us … so we can present Nissan in a different way."

And while social can ultimately exert an influence on car sales, Cottick further suggested that its impact may be greatest closer to the top of the funnel.

"For a durable good like a car, social [media] is very much an awareness play," he told the conference delegates.

"I don't want to discount how many [cars] it sells, but I tend to think of how many mindsets were changed [and] how many shopping lists did we get on [because of social media]."

Data sourced from Warc