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Battle of the Giants: Pepsi Vs. Coca-Cola

Hélène Heath
March 8, 2017
Last Updated On
pepsi vs coca cola

It's a social showdown.

Some great rivalries are legendary: Yankees vs. Red Socks, Orson Welles vs. William Hearst, Sega vs. Nintendo, Microsoft vs. Apple, Trump vs. Hillary... We could sit here all day and go down the list of storied foes, but today we're going to focus on perhaps one of the most mythical of all, Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola.

The clash of the colas dates back to over 100 years ago, but there's a new battleground where the fight has gained modern momentum — Instagram (where else?). Pepsi and Coke are not only soda royalty, but they're also weaved into the fabric of American culture as far as recognition, consumer habits, and above all, branding.

The consistency with which Coke and Pepsi have built their all-encompassing brand journeys over the course of their existence is something for the history books, no doubt. They've successfully leveraged all their marketing activities to create these unique worlds for their consumers, orbiting around their core message. And that powerful branding has lent itself seamlessly to visual storytelling platforms like Instagram.

But when does that cease to be sufficient in this (very different) day and age? There comes a point where Instagram campaigns and strategies need to take on a life of their own for accounts to truly be able to rise above the pack. No matter their standing outside of social.

We recently discussed how social media can be used to create marketing magic, but what happens when brands are such giants that they've already spent decades engineering an image that seems to be larger than life? The thing is, none of that counts on social, especially on a platform that is so intrinsically visual and specific like Instagram.

You can only go so far on the channel before the necessity of threading together a specific Instagram marketing strategy starts becoming apparent. The 'Gram is inching closer and closer to becoming the number one priority in the funnel for companies, especially now that it offers Instagram business accounts, and that Dash Hudson is there to help measure performance and ROI. Conclusion: devising a strategy is key.

With that preface in mind, let's do a deep dive into the Instagram stats of two of America's most iconic companies. They both evoke such strong imagery that it precedes their reputation, but how are they doing on the nation's favorite social channel?

Let's begin the match-up with some basic numbers.*

Pepsi Instagram: @Pepsi

Followers: 879,986
Average posts per week: 3
Average likes per post: 6,476
Average engagement rate in the past 2 years: 0.78%
Average engagement rate in the past 4 weeks: 0.64%

Pepsi's top 3 most engaged-around posts of all time:

Pepsi Instagram marketing strategy KPI

Coca Cola Instagram: @Cocacola

Followers: 1,871,917
Average posts per week: 3
Average likes per post: 12,389
Average engagement rate in the past 2 years: 0.70%
Average engagement rate in the past 4 weeks: 0.49%

Coca-Cola's top 3 most engaged-around posts of all time:

Coca-Cola Instagram marketing strategy KPI

The important thing to note here is that while Coca-Cola has a bigger audience, Pepsi's content seems to be resonating a little more with their followers, based on each of their average engagement rates. And that goes for the last 2 years as well as within the last 4 weeks. Remember, follower count is not actually one of the performance indicators. That said, their respective highest performing posts are all from 2015 (excluding queen Selena), which tells us that their Insta glory days seem to be a thing of the past.

While Pepsi has posted 3 times in the last week, Coca-Cola's last posts are from February. In fact, they've only posted 6 times since the Holidays... And as all of our best practices materials will tell you, that isn't nearly enough.

Let's go in a little deeper into the KPIs.

The graph below illustrates the average engagement per post on each account. You can clearly see that Coca-Cola is ahead in this category. They might post less often, but when they do, there is a higher percentage of their audience that interacts with them with either a like or a comment.

Pepsi Coca-Cola Instagram stats marketing strategy KPI

This graph represents each account's weekly reach, both owned and earned. They're basically neck and neck here. While this means that Coke gets tagged more in UGC, Pepsi has the edge with their own content despite having a smaller audience, likely because they post more often.

Pepsi Coca-Cola Instagram stats marketing strategy KPI

This graphic indicates the Pepsi and Coca-Cola average weekly growth rate. Pepsi is winning that KPI by a few points even though they get tagged less. Again, probably because they are slightly more active.

Pepsi Coca-Cola Instagram stats marketing strategy growth rate KPI

Here's Pepsi's growth chart from the last week, where they added over 7k new followers at an average of 1.2k per day.

Pepsi Instagram marketing growth rate KPI

As for Coke's growth chart from the past week, we can see that they added over 12k new followers at an average of 2k per day. These numbers are higher than Pepsi's, but the ratios are lower.

Coca-Cola Instagram marketing growth rate KPI

After observing these results, it's pretty clear that Pepsi, while manning a smaller account than Coca-Cola, has a slight performance edge. All the KPIs point to it. That said, can you just imagine what these mega giants and absolute brand-building image pros will be able to achieve once their marketing and social departments have access to AI and Computer Vision?

Get ready.


*These represent the stats at publishing time, but it's important to note that they are constantly fluctuating.

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