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Monday, March 25, 2013

Marketing with Facebook: Nike vs. Adidas

Marketing Adidas and NikeJust Do It vs. Impossible is Nothing.  Nike and Adidas, both world renowned athletic brands, incredibly successful and mindful of their use of social media.  Their Facebook presence is incredible, together gathering well over 70 million likes on their pages.  These titans use a variety of methods, similar in some ways and differentiated in others which have led them both to successful marketing campaigns on Facebook.

One of the most important things to note about both of these companies strategies is the ability to localize, or target, specific audiences through different pages.  Both Nike and Adidas have pages dedicated to specific shoes, such as the Air Force 1 or the Adidas F50, and have pages dedicated to specific sports ranging from soccer to baseball to cricket.  One distinction that is highly noticeable is that there are Nike pages designed specifically for certain countries, including Nike India and Nike Spain.  While these pages are well followed and updated, it is a redundancy that could be avoided by using Facebook's Post Targeting feature which could control the individuals who can see a post based on their region, language, or other discriminating factors.  This is not to say that this is a failure on Nike's part, just a difference from Adidas's use of Facebook.  From these different pages we can learn different things about these companies use of Facebook, what works, and whats less successful.

Online Marketing NikeStarting with the brands' main pages, there are slight differences in rates of engagement.  Nike, despite having slightly more total likes than Adidas, has an engagement rate of .58% as compared to .71% for Adidas.  While this may appear to be a small difference, these numbers represent thousands of people liking, commenting, and sharing content on a page which then gets re-posted into those friends' news feeds.  Each additional view of content represents a free advertisement, and not just to any consumer, but instead to consumers who are statistically more likely to enjoy the content shared or commented upon by the viewers friend.

So whats different?  The two pages descriptions vary dramatically, far more than would be anticipated. Where Nike's is simply a short list of contact numbers and hours of availability, Adidas's is a basic overview of what the company is all about followed by a large legal disclaimer about the rights of those posting on their page, and further no external link to a main web page or support numbers.

Next would be the cover photos.  Nike seems to dominate in this category.  It updates its cover photos more often, and with images that on average generate more likes and shares, despite being atop the page for shorter amounts of time.  Additionally, where Adidas might use its cover photos to represent its entire brand, Nike contrasts this with inspiring pictures that promote a new product or marketing campaign.  With this kind of promotion it generates new interest in its page, its product.  Adidas, though it may have as many star athletes on its cover, does not generate as much interest in this domain.

The profile picture is another interesting comparison.  Though neither company updates is profile picture in any kind of regular fashion, Adidas is guilty of not updating it at all, having the same picture for almost a year.  Nike on the other hand changes its picture to various swooshes and featured products.  Surprisingly, neither page out performs the other in quantity of likes or shares of profile pictures.  These different strategies can be seen as equally effective in promoting the page.

Comparative Statistics Nike and Adidas
Comparing total likes for Nike and Adidas over last 20 posts
So then page content must explain the differences in the amount of engagement between the two pages.  Looking at the last 20 posts by each page it instantly becomes clear what has happened, but perhaps not how it might be expected.  In the last 20 posts by Nike, the posts have gathered over 129000 likes and 18200 shares.  This is vastly greater than the slightly more than 59600 likes and 4300 shares gathered by Adidas's last 20 posts.  Yet, Adidas is the one with greater social engagement.  Whats going on is the date range of these posts.  The timeline for these 20 posts for Nike ranges from January 17th through March 27th, a period of over three months, while Adidas's last 20 posts have all been posted since March 4th.  Only 7 of Nike's last 20 posts have been done since March 4th.  This perfectly explains the anomaly about the amount of engagement recorded on the pages sites.  Adidas receives constant doses of attention from its followers, which in turn actually supplies larger engagement than Nike's posts which generate larger interest.  This goes to support the idea that information online has an expiration date.  If it is not updated enough it goes bad, and people stop checking it.  So despite having fewer followers, by abiding by this rule, Adidas outdoes Nike for its overall performance with the followers it has.  Why it has less followers is a harder question to answer and one that won't be addressed here.

Online Marketing Adidas
All in all it is an interesting comparison.  Nike produces more exciting content, that drives more followers to engage and share it, while Adidas constantly provides decent content, that keeps its followers coming back for more.  In the end, more updates trumps better ones and Adidas's marketing strategy is leading it to connect with more potential consumers through their Facebook page.   Any company could apply this same lesson, that more is simply better.  Sacrificing a little quality to produce more material to excite your followers is what will drive up those important statistics and provide you with valuable feedback.

An important note is that there is a lot of overlap between who is liking and sharing these posts, be it on one page, or even between them.  So the statistics provided cannot be seen as entirely independent.

Do you think this is a definitive conclusion on who is doing a better job on marketing with Facebook?  Share your thoughts, comment on the post!

Also, feel free to check out their Facebook pages and websites below:
Nike Facebook
Adidas Facebook


  1. Looking at Lebron's facebook is interesting. He gets a lot more engagement than nike and half of his posts are advertising for nike

  2. Nice point, there are also athlete with similar gigs for Adidas such as Lionel Messi. It'd be cool to know who runs these people's pages and how many of the posts are contractual.

  3. Type in your interest and make it public so that other facebook users will be able to relate to facebook likes and comments

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