Of all the places you’d expect a large corporation to go trying to make friends, Reddit would be one of the most risky locales you could imagine. Its famously clever users don’t suffer fools gladly, and they’re absolutely merciless when it comes to people or companies they find patronizing (
just ask Woody Harrelson).
And yet, when Nissan decided to test its luck to promote the new Versa Note two weeks ago, it actually won over more Redditors than it upset.
The brand did it with perhaps the most tried and true method of winning people’s affection the world has ever known: Gifts. Lots and lots of gifts.
To highlight the fact that the Versa Note is the first automobile ever to be sold on Amazon, two Nissan community managers asked the Reddit community what they’d like from the site, and then fulfilled an impressive number of the sometimes outlandish requests that were made. While a number of Reddit users (like the one who asked for gold-plated toilet paper) had to settle for Reddit’s premium Gold subscription, the Reddit community took in a pretty impressive haul that included a tablet, a diamond necklace, and a package of 4,500 live ladybugs (you can find them here, if you’re interested).
The stunt was a success, at least as far as winning the hearts and minds of the people who interacted with Nissan in the thread. Most of the responses to Nissan’s community managers, Ashley and Natalie, were positive, and one Redditor even started a separate “Thanks, NissanUSA” thread in return.
What Nissan’s Reddit experience shows is that brands can succeed in even the most hostile of public forums so long as they have an idea of what kind of users they’re going to encounter and go in with a clear plan of how they are going to provide those users with value.
In addition to the obvious value of giving away free stuff, Ashley and Natalie charmed the mostly male Reddit community (it’s unlikely that the selection of two women for this mission was coincidental) by handling criticism with humility, trading witty responses with commenters, and laughing it off when they were inevitably hit on.
Here’s the complete list of everything Ashley and Natalie bought Redditors from Amazon, as cataloged by NissanUSA’s Reddit handle:
A grow a boyfriend kit, roller skates, new boots, “How to Avoid Huge Ships” (book), a Calvin and Hobbes book set, the ultimate bacon sampler, a horse mask, a three-wolf moon shirt, a 17” catfish pillow, “LOVE” (Beatles soundtrack), “Cooking with Coolio” (book), 4,500 ladybugs, a banana slicer, a bookmark, a skull cap, “How to Sharpen Pencils” (book), a pizza cutter, a headset stand, a puzzle, diapers, a French press, “Battlefield 4” (video game), a chair, a camera microphone, a necklace, a bean-bag bed, a scooter suitcase, a KitchenAid, and a Nexus 10 tablet.
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