Nike Running: Using Social Media to Manage Customer Relationships

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, FacebookAn abundance of people take to social media every day to share the experiences that they have with brands, products, and customer service departments. While it’s easy to find plenty of companies that aren’t utilizing social media correctly and learn what not to do, I thought that I would highlight a brand that’s doing it right. Nike Running uses social media to really engage in customer conversations and manage customer relationships online.

One of the reason I chose Nike Running is because I come from a long line of runners; My grandpa was a very successful cross-country and track and field coach, my dad was a successful runner, and since “retiring” from college soccer, I’ve learned to love challenging myself to run farther and faster. That being said, I’m not a huge proponent of Nike running shoes. They just don’t work for my body and foot type. I may not love their shoes, but the work that Nike Running does on social media is noteworthy for any aspiring social media professional.

What Nike Running does right:

1. They don’t constantly try to sell with their content

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

Although I don’t work for Nike Running, I think it’s safe to assume that the brand’s target audience is runners (duh!). The brand could easily post about all of their different running products, but that wouldn’t be engaging for their customers. Instead, Nike Running posts inspiring and informative content that is of interest to the running community.

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

For instance, on May 31, Nike Running tweeted that Hellen Obiri broke the Prefontaine Classic 1500 meter record with the world’s fastest time this year (above). This information is obviously pertinent to Nike Running’s followers, and sharing it gives the brand more authority in the running world.

Nike Running’s Twitter feed also informed followers that the Prefontaine Classic was underway and let them know where they could tune in to watch. By not pushing their product or agenda, Nike Running becomes trustworthy, and more runners will turn to the brand when they have questions, or will purchase from the brand when they’re searching for running gear in the future.

2. They listen and engage their followers

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

Customers want to be heard, and this is where Nike Running’s social media efforts really stand out. The company has over 428,000 followers on Twitter and 2.5 million likes on Facebook, and still they take the time to engage with their customers. As a consumer, it’s flattering that such a popular brand would take the time to respond to me. Their responses and engagement show customers that they’re important.

Recently one customer reached out to Nike Running and asked how he could increase his stamina. With the abundance of comments and likes that Nike Running gets, they could have easily ignored the question, but instead they asked if the customer was training for a race or running for overall fitness. Once they customer responded, they sent him to a link where he could get the answers he was searching for. They went above and beyond to really get to know their follower.

3. They use a relatable and inspiring voice

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

Many runners turn to Nike Running for tips and advice. Instead of using a patronizing or superior tone, Nike Running uses a voice of a brand that intends to inspire. The company recently tweeted, “We’ve come this far. Now let’s take things further. Push each other.” As runners, we all have those days that are a struggle. The Nike Running brand becomes more human and relatable by recognizing the struggles, and encouraging its social media followers to push through on the rough days.

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8 thoughts on “Nike Running: Using Social Media to Manage Customer Relationships

  1. Thanks Justin and thank you for posting a link to Casey’s blog! It’s nice to see that Nike’s good social media work goes beyond the Nike Running account! Nike Running does a solid all-around job. If I had to point out one thing that I would change, it maybe the amount of times that they mention their brand in their posts. I hope this doesn’t sound contradictory to my statement that they don’t constantly sell with their content. In a lot of their posts that inform the running community, they mention that the athlete is a runner sponsored by Nike. There’s a fine line between educating your followers and selling your products, and I think that’s something every brand needs to be aware of.

  2. I love Nike in general. I follow them on almost every platform and always appreciate the content they put out. I like how they don’t have a sales pitch, even though they show products. I can look at the image of the shoes and not feel pressured to buy them. I know what you mean about Nike listening and engaging with their customers. I sent one tweet to Nike and received a response within the hour, I was really happy about that. I also like how you brought up the fact that the use an “inspirational” tone. Nike Running seems to really get to the heart of the issue and promote the benefits running has for people, and the joy they can experience from wearing the brand.
    Great post, long live Nike!

    • Hey Gavin,

      Thanks! Nike Running does showcase their products in a lot of their posts (understandable, they’re still trying to make sales), but you’re right, the posts don’t come off as “salesy.” I think that’s part of the reason the brand is so successful…they find a way to showcase their products without consumers feeling like they’re being pressured to buy those products. Long live Nike for sure!

  3. Great post Lauren! Were you the person who pitched the running app in Andy’s class last semester or was that someone else? I love the inspiring tone of Nike Running’s voice as well. There’s a fine line between inspiring and cheesy and I think these posts by Nike Running are inspiring. Anytime a brand responds to a comment or a tweet, that gives them brownie points in my book. And they did it in a way that said ‘we can’t help you, but here’s a link to someone who can.’ I like the way they give advice and find ways to incorporate Nike into it. We do something similar on the O.C.D. Experience social channels by saying if they need a container or a scanner here are some O.C.D.-approved brands you can use. It’s a way to promote other brands by saying that we trust them. If our audience likes those products, it will make them trust us more because we recommended it.

    • Thank you Steven! I think a couple people pitched a running app in Andy’s class, and I thought about it, but ended up going with something else for the final project. I love Nike Running’s inspiring posts! It’s great that a big brand seems to care about the betterment of their customers and not just selling their products. Promoting other brands that you trust is a great way to get your customers to trust you more. Customers want the best answers and if you can provide them with that, they’ll keep coming back to you.

  4. seanburke4 says:

    Hey Lauren,
    Your example of when Nike asked for more information from the person who needed stamina help is awesome. They could have easily posted any generic article, which would have been great regardless. Instead, they took the time to give the follower a personal response tailored to their needs. How cool is that? I’m a runner too and wear Mizuno shoes. The current style I had was retired and I wasn’t sure which newer shoe was the replacement. I tweeted them asking for help and never heard back. I then tweeted Running Warehouse (which is a great website for deals) and they quickly gave me a response. I was half-tempted not to buy a Mizuno shoe because they ignored me. Unfortunately, as you probably know with running shoes, it’s hard to switch. In the end I was more than happy to give my money to Running Warehouse. They deserved it. Nice post!

    • Thanks Sean! I’ve recently discovered Brooks running shoes and they’re amazing! I was so sad when I wore my last pair of Brooks out because they stopped making the shoe, fortunately they had a new version. Since you’re in the Columbus area, I really recommend going to Road Runner Sports for running shoes (I think it’s a Worthington address). They’ll do several tests to figure out what’s the best shoe for your body and foot type. But back to the social media! Standards have been raised and social media users don’t just expect a response from businesses, they expect a response that’s tailored to them. That’s why Nike Running has been so successful.

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