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White Paper:
Comparing the Social Media
Strategies taken by Coca-
Cola Company and PepsiCo

Shelby Duke
MMC 3630-Dr. Dodd
16 October 2016
Executive
Summary:

This white paper will discuss the different social media strategies
used by the two most prominent soda brands: Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Coke has had much more success in regards to social media strategies
and campaigns than Pepsi does. Graphs, charts, and explanations from
credible sources will be shown throughout the white paper to provide
evidence of this assumption. After presenting the data and comparing
and contrasting the social media strategies of the two beverage
companies, there will be an explanation of solutions and opportunities
for both companies to improve their strategies and further engage the
public with the respective brand using social media.

Introduction:

Ill have a Coke, please, Is Pepsi okay? This seems to be a


common conversation that takes place all over the nation. Theres a
very apparent brand loyalty to the Coca-Cola Company with most
consumers. The problem lies with PepsiCo and the fact that its social
media strategies arent as effective as those of Coca-Cola. According to
Brandwatchs Social Index, Coke was favored in all four categories
measured: social visibility, net sentiment, reach growth, and social
engagement and content.

Clearly, it is evident that Pepsi is a few steps behind Coke, so there will
be further explanation, and comparison and contrasting of both
companies strategies and what solutions can be implemented in order
to further the success of not only the PepsiCo, but the Cocoa-Cola
Company as well, as both companies are highly recognized and
important in todays society.

Background:

In order to compare, contrast, and find ways to improve the


strategies, there first must be an explanation of what is currently
happening in the market. In todays world, the current market still
enjoys drinking a soda, but has become more health conscious society.
Mixing obesity and carbonated beverages allows for serious health
problems; these health problems are on an exponential rise whereas
soft drink companies are experiencing very low growth rates (Deichert,
et al. 2006, p. 10). Since the nation has be come so health conscious,
its important for PepsiCo and Coca-Cola to promote the brand, and not
just the soda. Theres no better way to do that in todays generation
than with social media, since a large majority of the population has at
least one social media account. Now that theres a basic understanding
of the society and todays current market, a closer look can be taken at
PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Companys social media strategies and online
presence, in order to compare and contrast the two companies and
develop ways for improvement on both sides.

Comparison and Contrast:


Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have had very successful social media
presence. They both have a relative understanding of their audiences,
which is a major key when trying to promote a brand and engage with
your audience. While people of all different ages are on social media,
the majority of the audience for both Coke and Pepsi, is Millennials, is
regards to social media postings. Coke created a campaign where
vending machines accept smiles, or hugs as currency for a coke. There
are also vending machines on college campuses that pass out huge
subs or flowers before dispensing a coke (Moye 2013). Cokes
#shareacoke campaign also led to lots of conversations on social
media. On the Pepsi side, the company created the #outoftheblue
sweepstakes that allowed fans a chance to meet celebrities and travel
the world. While both of these companies were able to engage the
consumer, Coca-Cola had a much stronger hold on the audience.
Cokes campaigns had more meaningful conversation about the brand
whereas Pepsis talk on social media was predominately about the
prizes and not necessarily the quality of the brand. This was abled to
be measured by the sentiment score on the social index model. Coke
pulled ahead by nearly sixteen and a half points (Lovejoy 2015).
Its one thing to appeal to your audience, but its another to
engage with them. According to Nate Smitha from Simply Measured,
Coca-Cola has more total engagement on twitter, which is depicted in
the graph below.

The Coca-Cola Company has substantially more mentions and retweets


than Pepsi. One of the most important aspects of this information is the
amount of tweets Coca-Cola replies to, especially compared to Pepsi.
Approximately 83% of Cokes tweets for the month of May in 2014
were replies to its followers (Zaucha 2014). Whether these mentions
were positive or negative, its important that Coke replied to as many
as they did. It exemplifies the importance of understanding the
audience and how they feel. It shows that the company is considerate
and actually cares about the consumer, and not just making a dollar.
Though Pepsi replied to nearly 3,000 tweets, it doesnt compare to
Cokes 11.5 thousand. Three thousand is better than zero but four
thousand would be superior to three thousand. The more you can
engage with the audience and build a relationship with them and
establish brand loyalty.
Pepsi and Coke both make valuable use out of user-generated
content on social media. Pepsi created a digital dashboard on their
website for the Live For Now campaign. Fans tweets and Facebook
posts would appear on the dashboard when they used the Live For
Now hashtag (Horton 2012). Coke did something similar to engage
users and get them involved. They took the #shareacoke campaign a
step further and had users use the hashtag and tell a story about Coke
and the social media movement. Quite a few of the posts using the
hashtag were selected and appeared on billboards across the nation
(Zaucha 2014). This also relates back to engaging with followers on
social media and listening to what they have to say about the product.
Coke also built on to adding names to cans by placing song
lyrics, which are well known by all generations, on bottles. Pepsi
created a Say It With Pepsi Campaign where the can or bottles of
Pepsi feature one of the 600 emojis that Pepsi crafted. Pepsi was
aware of the face that emojis are very popular on social media, so with
the creation of PepsiMoji keyboard, and placing emojis on bottles and
cans, the company believed that it could make a notable appearance,
especially on social media. Unfortunately, Pepsi ends up creating a
generation gap. While most of Pepsi fans that are present on social
media are teens and young adults that my find this amusing, other
people might not. The older generation like grandparents, may
understand what an emoji is, but wont come full circle in
understanding the relevance of an emoji on a Pepsi bottle. Some teens
may really connect with all the different emojis, but older generations
might not find it as witty. With Coke, there are many different ways to
customize the product, which eliminates any sort of generation gap.
Fans can take this to social media using the appropriate hashtag. A
drawback to Pepsis idea is that the emojis only appeal to a certain
generation (Delucchi 2016). Therefore, 45 year olds might not be
posting all over Facebook talking about the emoji on their Pepsi can,
but would be able to talk about how they found their name, or the lyric
from their favorite song from when they were a kid, on a bottle. It
shows a more personal connection.

Solutions:
As noted when comparing and contrasting the social media
strategies and campaigns of the Pepsi and Coke, its evident that
PepsiCo is not as successful as the Coca-Cola Company when it comes
down to engaging with consumers and promoting the actual brand,
and not just prizes from sweepstakes. One simple way Pepsi could
possibly rise up is to become more engaging with its fans and
followers. As depicted in the bar graph above about twitter
engagement, Coke out numbered Pepsi in all categories but especially
regarding mentions and replies. If Pepsi made more of an effort to
reply to the tweets theyre mentioned in, itll force a personal
connection between the Pepsi and the consumer, just like how Coke
has done. Fans would be pretty excited to see that a big company like
Pepsi replied to one of their tweets. If it was a negative tweet, it shows
the sincerity of the company and willingness to fix the problem, rather
than avoid it. Its vital to be transparent with consumers and address
criticism publicly and not hide it. Its not clear as to why Pepsi doesnt
take the time to reply to the majority of its mentions, but its important
to know how to handle issues on social media as they arise.
Its clear that Pepsi needs to engage more with its consumers
and a fun innovate way to do so would probably set the company apart
from Coca-Cola. Pepsi also falls behind Coke in using user-generated
content on its social media platforms. With the Live For Now
campaign, the tweets show up from followers appear, but only if you
go to a specific website, whereas Coke put user-generated content on
billboards for all audiences to see.
According to Adweeks 10 Brands Doing an Amazing Job on
Social Media, GoPro is among the top. Falling at number 8, GoPro
posts a photo of the day, implementing user generated content on
its social media sites everyday. If Pepsi were to team up with GoPro,
pictures on both companies social media sites could be posted
implementing the use of both products. For example, a picture of fans
at the beach enjoying a Pepsi, taken with a GoPro, could be posted.
Pepsi could retweet the post from GoPro or the source of the original
post, and reply back to the original poster about the photo. This will
increase the use of user-generated content and also increase the
amount of tweets Pepsi replies to, which in turn would ultimately help
the consumer engagement as well.
While Pepsi, has a numerous amount of ways they are able to
progress and catch up to Coke, Coke is already the leader in the soda
industry. With that being said, if Pepsi were really serious about
expanding and improving its social media strategies to compete with
Coke, Coke would definitely need a strategy to stay ahead of its
competitor. Since Coca-Cola is the leader in the soda market, there
really isnt a precedent to follow, unlike Pepsi since its number two
behind Coke. The Coca-Cola Company and its Public Relations team
need to keep doing what they have been doing, like engaging with
followers on twitter to the extent they have and continue to appeal to
all generations like in the #shareacoke campaign. The company would
also need to get more creative with their presence on social media to
set them apart from Pepsi, since Pepsi would be trying to follow in
Cokes footsteps on a few aspects, like being more engaging with its
followers. Scarcity creates demand and so if Coke was to create a
particular type of retweet contest or a sale on the customization of the
coke cans for a limited time, it would drive up sales and get followers
talking about what is happening with the company. The Honest
Company promoted a 40% off code on their twitter for a 12-hour sale
(Chu 2015). Though Pepsi had a problem when they did their
#outoftheblue sweepstakes because it was generating buzz about the
sweepstakes, not the brand, if Coke found a way to incorporate
something similar while still promoting their brand versus the product,
it could prove to be very beneficial to the company and its consumers.
Another strategy that Coca-Cola could tackle would be a
volunteer movement involving Coke products. Toms Shoes Company
has a 1 for 1 policy. Every time someone buys a pair of Toms, a pair of
shoes gets donated to someone in need. Coca-Cola could do something
similar when theres a natural disaster. For example, Hurricane
Matthew just destroyed most of Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Many of
those people who survived lost everything and are out of food and
clean drinking water. Coca-Cola doesnt just sell soda; the company
also sells Dasani water. An initiative could be taken so that for every 12
pack of Coke cans bought, a case of water would be donated to those
struggling from the Hurricane. Coca-Cola would broadcast this over all
social media platforms. People love to help out but when something is
so far away, there are little people can do. So something as simple as
buying a bottle of soda could help someone live, people will feel good
about themselves, and support the company doing it. Posting pictures
of volunteers passing out water in Haiti could be posted on Instagram
as well to show the efforts. This idea could clearly be useful for both
PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Company, but if Coke were to start it, The
company would be set apart from Pepsi, as Pepsi attempts to weigh in
on Coke.

Conclusion:

Pepsi and Coke are the two most powerful soda companies in the
world and their social media strategies are part of what makes them so
influential. Its important to understand the similarities and differences
of their online presence. Coke spends a majority of its time on twitter
replying to and engaging with Coke fans, whereas Pepsi doesnt reply
nearly as much. Both companies apply user-generated content but
Coke makes it much more apparent by placing the content on
billboards. Engaging consumers is also an important aspect of both
companies strategies. Pepsi had the #outoftheblue sweepstakes and
Coke placed a variety of different vending machines around to share
happiness. Coke did a better job of creating a more meaningful
conversation about it whereas Pepsi fans talked more about the actual
contest and not the brand. There are also many ways to improve both
companies strategies and tactics in regards to social media. Pepsi can
focus on implementing more user-generated content into their social
media platforms, instead of directing fans to a different website. Pepsi
could also pair up with a company like GoPro as a way to share fans
own post and could also increase engagement by replying to these
same posts. Coke could set a new precedent for social media presence
by showing humanitarian efforts after a natural disaster. A plan can be
enacted to where after someone buys pack of coke cans; water
becomes donated to those effected by the disaster.
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