In the modern world, communication channels are developing rapidly, expanding Internet communications, which allow companies to interact with potential consumers, distribute content quickly, and deliver more accurate and relevant information, implementing advertising and PR tasks. One of the most actively developing methods of promotion is SMM. Currently, the Internet is exceptionally rapidly socializing, and this is the primary trend of the modern online environment. Today, there is a vast number of different social networks and services that allow people instantly and almost free of charge to communicate with each other to get information and work.
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The relevance of this work is associated with the growing popularity of social networks as a platform for advertising. SMM becomes an integral part of the program to promote an enterprise that wants to take a worthy place in the market. Today, presence in the Internet environment is mandatory for any enterprise and competent development of the program of SMM methods will allow the company to optimize advertising and PR – activities and reach the primary target audiences.
Two sports companies, Adidas, and Nike, have quite a long history of presence on social media platforms. Marketing experts have gathered enough information to assess the effectiveness of specific SMM strategies. The analysis of the strategies of the mentioned companies allows revealing similarities and differences in the approach to managing public brand profiles. The purpose of this case study is to study the official accounts of two sports brands, such as Adidas and Nike, on four of the most popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
This case study will address the following challenges:
- determine the relevance of social media creation for companies;
- explain the concept of social media marketing as a tool to promote a company;
- conduct marketing research on official channels on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram;
- Conclude the effectiveness of social media management strategies.
Social Media as a New Type of Marketing
A social network is an Internet community of users united by any attribute based on one site, which in this case, is called a social network. In other words, a social network on the World Wide Web is built on the same principles as in the real world but differs from real human communities in that the functioning of the system does not play a role of geographical distance from each other. In social networks, people exchange knowledge, build contacts, share opinions, news, videos, music, and information about the products and services they use. Initially, social networks were invented to communicate with each other in different parts of the country/world. Today, they have evolved from a means of communication into a powerful tool for creating and disseminating data.
Marketing in social media has shifted from an experimental methodology to a necessary tool that every company must have, and this increases the importance of choosing an integrated strategy for the company’s work in social media. The emergence of a new environment has a significant impact on consumer behaviour (Social Media Marketing for Businesses, 2019). Unlike traditional media, social media are not directly influenced – the consumer needs to be involved in and interact with the product.
Social Networks feature and Marketing Strategy
The social media market is changing rapidly, which is particularly relevant for companies that use SMM mechanisms to promote their product. SMM is a process of attracting traffic or attention to a brand or product through social platforms. In particular, SMM is understood as a set of measures to use social media as channels for promoting companies and solving other business problems. The most important feature of modern social media is that users and companies present in the network are equal parties. It is a gross mistake to use classical promotion strategies that assume the initial superiority of the producer company over the end consumer in the virtual world (Newberry, 2018). To have a better marketing strategy one needs to answer the 5Ws, that is;
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- When are you going to share?
- Where are you going to share?
- What are you going to share?
- Who is your target audience?
- Why do you want to be on social network platforms?
These questions answer everything. The need to be on social media is to market the products to attract more customers. This is done by listening to communications concerning your brand, increasing mentions in the press, offering social online customer service, building a society around your enterprise, boosting engagement of brand, growing revenue (by accelerating sales or signups), generating new leads, driving traffic to your online site and increasing brand awareness through social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. The target audience understanding help answers the question when, where and what they are going to share.
In this case, the targeted audiences are sports fans and participants and the accessories, clothing, shoes, as well as equipment contents, are what need to be shared with sports consumers. Where they are shared with clients is on social media platforms and when to share the product content matters. Sports participants and fans are more likely to be on social network platforms just after, during, and before sports, scenarios to know more and interact with sports content concerning the sporting event. Here, what matters is how the business grabs the attention of customers in the four social media platforms aforementioned.
However, it is essential to understand that no matter how much the Internet has changed in recent decades, the foundation of any social media remains the same and corresponds to the original purpose of the global network, namely communication. Communication between users can be verbal, with direct dialogue through personal chats or call functions, or non-verbal through the transmission of visual content. The audience of social networks does not want advertising, does not look for goods and services on the pages of Internet communities, but needs information about them because of the uniqueness of an effective promotion strategy in social media. Any business must approach the issue of communication with the user correctly to confirm the reputation of its company.
The contrast of Sports Brands: Adidas and Nike
It has been noted that companies such as Adidas and Nike use four major social media accounts to market their products. Below is what each company does to advertise their products.
Adidas Social Media Marketing Strategy
Adidas has been able to create hype surrounding its collaborative high profile. In 2014, this brand took Kanye West from Nike. Since then, they have been cautiously crafting product launches in series, establishing on the fanatical fan and broader of the rapper on fan platforms. They post on Instagram and tweet footwear releases in the run-up to developing diverse interest and excitement from followers.
They also collaborate with well-rated profile personalities such as McCartney Stella to Williams Pharrell, especially in Adidas Originals. Adidas is committed to personal and direct contact with influencers in the actual design operations. They do this to allow their collaborations to feel real and genuine as a whole rather than being strictly driven by sales. Besides, it will enable their social media posts to address the underlying topic of art, creativity and originality expression.
Giving control to consumers
The revival of Adidas started when iconic Stan Smith footwear was relaunched. It drew the nostalgia feeling and also emphasized its heritage as well as assist the brand in influencing subcultures and streetwear like hip-hop and Brit-pop. The surrounding campaign of Adidas on social media was apt to make customers feel like being part of the story. The ‘Stan Yourself’ ideology was to request users to tweet personal pictures with the possibility of winning a personalized pair of footwear.
This integrated consumer focus has been making Adidas Originals successful in current years to create interaction about street culture and youth rather than marketing its brand. An instance of this brand’s current episodes of the live event is known as TLKS. Highlighting highly rated profile influencers in music and fashion, every one of them was lively streamed on Facebook, while offering fans a distinct chance to associate with Adidas on a trial and error practical level.
The content generated can be ads images or videos on business platforms and regular postings. An ad can pop up in a search engine or an extension on videos and on other pictures that appears automatically on interested individuals’ timeline. On Facebook, Adidas currently has 37,000,061 followers but the number of people who liked it the page was 36,908,643 and not all likes were from followers. The user-generated content is specifically diversely spread on Instagram with fans responding on the posts with their love for Adidas and excited about the brand releases as well as exclusive events.
Furthermore, the Adidas Originals on Instagram has 760 posts (also having many followers than the main Adidas account, that is, 36.2m to 25.4m followers) utilizes imagery design from models, fashion designers, and musicians, to emphasize Adidas slogan ‘We Are Originals’ – that collaboratively involves the customers in the ‘we’. The company images and videos posted on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Tweeter seem to engage a young audience truly and more often. (Gilliland, 2017).
The most used methods of marketing focused on imagery made by Adidas, which include the Adidas logo. In 2018, Adidas appeared in the top 100 brand’s image insights and was the leading with average unique picture per month which was 6,664,170. Adidas brand also appeared leading in the top 10 industries where Sports Apparel had 3,019,031 ordinary images per month per brand (Brandwatch, 2018). According to Williams (2018), the logo shared on Instagram and Twitter appeared in 6.5 million pictures each month.
In 2018, the company was ranked number three with annual revenue of $23.72 billion for posting average annual pictures of 79,970,040 and per image revenue of $296. According to Social Buzz (2020), this year, the total number of the post were 251 pictures, 187 videos, 90 statuses as well as 146 links. All these posts have respondents replying towards the brand, and the overall positive responses are 168 (25%), the contrary is 24(4%) and neutral 482(71%). It forms a ratio of 9:1 as integrated in table 1.1.
Table 1.1. The Adidas Posts and Responses.
|Social Media Platform||Number of Posts||Percentage of Positive posts||Percentage of Negative Posts||Percentage of Neutral Posts||Ratio|
|Web||4||25% (1)||0% (0)||75% (3)||1:0|
|10||70% (7)||0% (0)||30% (3)||7:0|
|98||68.4% (67)||8.2% (8)||23.5% (23)||9:1|
|72||33.3% (24)||1.4% (1)||65.3%(47)||10:0|
|YouTube||50||26% (13)||2% (1)||72% (36)||9:1|
|Vimeo||20||5% (1)||0% (0)||95% (19)||1:0|
|Tumblr||20||20% (4)||5% (1)||75% (15)||4:1|
|vkontakte||100||1% (1)||0% (0)||99% (99)||1:0|
|100||21% (21)||8% (8)||71% (71)||7:3|
|Daily Motion||100||24% (24)||4% (4)||72% (72)||9:1|
|Flickr||100||5% (5)||1% (1)||94% (94)||5:1|
In table 1.1, Adidas has made only ten posts on Facebook, where the positive response was 7 (70%) and neutral responses are 3 (30%) but no negative posts. This shows that this year, Adidas is driven towards better marketing strategies that please their customers. The number of Tweeter posts is 98 with 67 (68.4%) positive responses, 8 (8.2%) negatives responses and 23 (23.5%) neutral replies. So the tweets make most of the customers thrilled.
On YouTube, new posts are 50. The positive responses are 13 (26%), negative is 1 (2%) and neutral are 36 (72%) this shows that most customers are just there, not exited and not feeling bad. This is a bad sign that the YouTube marketing strategy to not affect clients. Instagram posting are 72 with 24 (33.3%), negative is 1 (1.4%) and neutral are 47 (65.3%). Almost half of the customers like the brand but above that are not attracted to the products. The company needs to change the imagery strategy on Instagram to attract more consumers’ attention especially the neutral ones.
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The more the company markets its products, the more it reaches its products reaches the targeted audiences. The social media best marketing strategy is to post ads videos and images on numerous websites that are viewed by their clients and mostly primary on getting more new followers. Adidas focuses on attracting more customers on Vkontakte, Reddit, Daily Motion and Flickr which are primarily neutral to company adverts meaning they are not a fan. Therefore, Adidas posts more adverts there to get their attention. The most posted things are images, links, and videos which the statistic showed as follows in table 1.2.
Table 1.2. Showing how marketing is done in social networks.
|Social Media Platform||Number of Posts||Images||Videos||Links||Statuses|
In figure 1.1, the number of most famous users are as shown below. Facebook and YouTube are in the top 5.
Nike Social Media Marketing Strategy
Facebook and Instagram
Nike Football has several followers and Likes than the main Nike account (44m to 32m likes). The related customers between the game and Nike have given it, has provided the long-term list of a celebrity campaign based on the Oregon sports brand offered both at present and in the past. They have dedicated business platforms for Nike Women selling individually to women, as well as Air Force and Air Max. Although they advertise stand-alone entities such as sportswear, they also market for sports participants on social media. Nike uses Facebook more to market its products.
Although they don’t post on Facebook as much as in the past (table), It is still getting to post query-like posts to know customer opinions on products and not the creation itself. They do that to understand the consumers’ interests and to make better products that can sell out faster. Nike also used Twitter to acknowledge the campaign with a retweeted post from Kaepernick Colin. In consequence, it led to a 31% increase in sales summing with $43 million created after the global campaign channel. It can be seen that Nike depends on its brand’s power on Tweeter with surety of the marketed products to spread.
Instagram and YouTube
Nike does not frequently use its Instagram platform. They post about only once a week. This is because Nike has become more popular and its high-quality videos and about sports products are liked by its followers to consume. They also use motivational attracting tone, precise editing image software for images and messages sent to fans to continue interacting with Nike employees for a better experience. It has an app both online and offline giving customers the chance to interact with friends and compete as well as follow fitness enthusiasts. They include ordinary people, influencers and athletes to serve equality. In YouTube, the document series which initially attracted about 1.4 million views. The series is to attract consumers’ attention such as Margot vs Lily received over 80,000,000 views.
The 2018 top 100 brand image also contained Nike ranked as number two in the brand picture insight. It had 5,134,017 average distinct pictures per month which summed to an average of 61,608,204 images per year. The annual revenue was $34 billion, considering the revenue per copy to be $551. In the ten most image brands by influencers, it was ranked number 10 with 11% of pictures from authors with above 10,000 followers (Brandwatch, 2018). The posts made were as shown in table 1.3 below.
Table 1.3. The responses made on social media postings.
|Social Media Platform||Number of Posts||Percentage of Positive posts||Percentage of Negative Posts||Percentage of Neutral Posts||Ratio|
|Web||2||50% (1)||0% (0)||50% (1)||1:0|
|10||30% (3)||0% (0)||70% (7)||3:0|
|100||14% (14)||10% (10)||76% (76)||3:2|
|71||23.9% (17)||0% (0)||76.1%(54)||10:0|
|YouTube||50||24% (12)||8% (4)||68% (34)||7:3|
|Vimeo||20||10% (2)||0% (0)||90% (18)||2:0|
|Tumblr||20||5% (1)||0% (0)||95% (19)||1:0|
|vkontakte||98||2% (2)||1% (1)||97% (95)||2:1|
|100||27% (17)||7% (7)||66% (66)||4:1|
|Daily Motion||100||58% (58)||7% (7)||35% (35)||9:1|
|Flickr||100||19% (19)||10% (10)||71% (71)||7:3|
According to Social Buzz (2020), in all the social network platform used by Nike, the positive posted responses as of now are 23% (156 posts), negative is 6% (39 posts) and neutral is 476 posts (71%) summing up to 650 a ratio of 4:1. The total number of photos posted is 332, the total number of videos is 180, and links are 121 and statuses 27. In the above table 1.3, it can be seen that the last three social platforms have so many posts meaning that the followers there don’t have an interest in this brand. So Nike is posting so many pictures and videos to gain more customers. Instagram has 71 posts, but the positive relies on are 17 and 54 neutral, with no negative responses. Here, the reactions are more neutral showing no interest. The company needs to change the imagery strategy it is relying on Instagram (table 1.4).
In YouTube, positive response on the posts was 12, negative 4, and neutral 34. As table 1.4 shows 50 videos only, it means that the excited individuals are few but not like unhappy ones. The company is facing uninterested individuals since they think the brands are popular and there is no need to try and enhance the products. Table 1.3 indicates twitter is worse since only 14 respondents are happy, ten unhappy showings higher rate than other media platforms and 76 people who are just not interested. As indicated in table 1.4, Twitter posts are mostly photos and links meaning that the customers do not like either the links which need to be exploited or pictures that must be missing exactly what the target audience needs.
Table 1.4. The posts as per social media.
|Social Media Platform||Number of Posts||Video||Photo||Link||Statuses|
Figure 1.2 below shows the most popular users in each social network platform. Twitter is still leading in the most popular social network followed by YouTube.
Differences and Similarities between Nike and Adidas
Analysis of Company Channels on YouTube
YouTube is one of the most extensive video services in the world, providing users with round-the-clock access to video content. This is the uniqueness of the site: the value of video does not decrease, but only increases over time. If the posts on Facebook and the images on Instagram have quite a short lifespan, the video on YouTube will not go anywhere – according to the keywords, it can be found both in a month and a year. This means that the number of views will only increase with time, and the video will gain in popularity (Why and how to use YouTube, 2018). Well-known brands can use YouTube to create videos about company history or brand ideas.
|Channel||User-created||Subscribers||Views||Videos||Video views for the last 30 days|
Table 1. Summary statistics of two companies’ parameters (based on SocialBlade data).
As can be seen from the analysis of summary table 1, Nike shows itself as an absolute leader compared to Adidas. Even though Adidas was the first to create a channel on YouTube, to date, it has not managed to bypass any of the competitors’ indicators. The answer to this question is definitely in the video channel management strategy. The SMM strategy that Adidas adheres to is to keep the traffic on the YouTube channel.
The most important mission of the circuit in such an approach is to achieve maximum user loyalty by promoting the brand, forming its positioning and image. Adidas uses a personal channel, not for point sales of new clothes or sneakers, but to maintain its reputation and native advertising. Analysis of Adidas channel video materials shows an almost complete absence of direct advertising; instead, there is product placement. Figure 4 shows a fragment with recently released Adidas videos, and as can be seen in the screenshot, the company aims to collaborate with brand ambassadors.
Strategy Analysis on Twitter
Twitter is a unique system of short messages exchange in the social network, which allows the administrator to send messages up to 280 characters long to readers. This social network is one of the most popular in the world and has quite a wide range of functions, as it makes it possible to publish not only text messages, but also photos and videos, as well as to communicate directly in personal words. Even though this social network has many accounts of famous brands, working with a broad audience is a little more complicated than it seems at first glance.
A brand needs to develop corporate behavior before it can put its promotion strategy into practice. A common mistake is when a brand publishes only news about a company. In this case, users do not see the deep informativeness of such content and do not get an emotional connection. The combination of useful, relevant, and engaging content on social networks is considered an ideal strategy.
Since Twitter primarily focuses on users’ verbal communication, the mechanics of a social network imply mutual following. At the same time, there is some hidden boundary between the minimum number of accounts to which a channel subscribes and the maximum number of accounts. As a rule, if the number of reports is too large, it seems to users that the account behaves incorrectly. Twitter accounts of large brands have tens and hundreds of thousands of followers, and a mutually following of each of them is unrealistic.
Table 2. Summary statistics of two companies’ parameters (based on SocialBlade data).
As can be seen from table 2, the official Nike account is the leader in all positions: it creates more posts and is expected to receive more “likes.” The considerations to which Adidas subscribe include the accounts of local Adidas branches in different countries, as well as the accounts of famous people with whom the company cooperates in one way or another, which is also noticeable in the Nike strategy.
Reaction to publications are maintaining brand relevance and timeliness. If a user on the network is dissatisfied with the company’s products, the brand can respond in his account, showing a particular interest in the quality of his products. According to SocialBlade statistics (2020), the average number of retweets in a Nike account is 80,035, while Adidas has an index of 384. An analysis of the official statements of both companies on Twitter allows us to highlight the following patterns of their strategies:
- Twitter is not the main information channel for companies;
- the content posted on Twitter is secondary, including created for another site;
- both companies seek to transfer subscribers to the place from which they can make purchases;
- companies remain in trend, publishing information related to specific dates;
- companies do not plan to publish messages, and most often, this happens spontaneously.
Facebook Strategy Analysis
Facebook offers users several profile options – a personal, group, or business page. By the rules of Facebook, brands use business pages that empower users. Adidas does not have an official page for the international community and instead offers users separate accounts for each country: for example, @adidasUS and @adidasUK. This strategy also applies to Nike accounts. Nike uses different pages for each of its product categories so that users can find golf, skateboarding, or running club profiles.
Table 4. Summary statistics of two companies’ parameters (based on SocialBlade data).
An analysis of Table 4 shows unexpected results for the Adidas public page.
The distribution of likes in Adidas and Nike accounts is uneven. According to Table 4, the Adidas page has more likes with fewer links. This is shown in Figure 12, which shows the distribution of likes between two companies in chronological order (Compare Results, 2020). The figure shows that Adidas was able to surpass Nike in the number of likes only in January 2018. Alone this year, Nike stopped publishing content on its official page. Since then, Nike has continued to receive approval from users, one of whom sees that the page is not relevant, so the total number of likes does not exceed Adidas.
In addition to the main profile, Nike also has many pages for various sports and places. In addition, the brand structure includes accounts of the most famous lines of sportswear and shoes, as well as a page for Nike Women (Pride, 2018). An analysis of Nike’s previous publications shows that in the past, the company published its posts more carefully, collected many likes every year, and received millions of subscribers (Cole, 2018). At the end of 2018, the company may have decided to change its profile from the global community to smaller accounts.
In general, an analysis of the pages of both companies on Facebook shows that Nike and Adidas today do not see global development in this social networking market. Most likely, this is due to the constant evolution of Facebook and a change in the algorithms of the news feed, which makes it difficult for users to access the content (Raghunath, 2019). Although Adidas continues to maintain the official page, this does not happen with full dedication. All published materials are concentrated on other social networks, and the business page on Facebook is no longer relevant and informative.
Instagram Strategy Analysis
The marketing mechanism should not be underestimated, believing that just images and short videos are not enough to promote the brand. With photos, netizens can understand whether the product matches their parameters and interests. Furthermore, additional factors for attracting users are stories, short videos that exist overnight. As a rule, stories are not independent products and are intended either to advertise a new post or to announce the news.
Both companies are developing several product lines that meet the needs of athletes from different fields. Given the number of brand followers, both companies created separate accounts for each business area (Figure 13).
Field hockey, basketball, American football, and skateboards – anyone who enjoys sports will find a page to answer their questions about products. This strategy implies that this step allows us to create more accurate content for each type of product and satisfy the needs of different groups of fans. Marketers do not need to worry about people who do not want to sign up for multiple accounts. The difference in the direction of content delivery will allow a person to find what he needs and remain a supporter of the brand on social networking sites, and not miss the brand account that he likes, but is not interested in the content. That is why it is better to have separate accounts for different areas of the company: this helps to avoid dumping material on one page. In addition to differences in directions, companies create accounts for different places in the country and the world.
As shown in table 5, Nike has all the benefits in this social network. Nike is undoubtedly the leader in the number of subscribers. More than 100 million subscribers subscribe to the company profile, and the number of subscribers to the Adidas profile is four times less. The calculation of the audience engagement rating shows that Nike has 0.36% (SocialBlade, 2020). For a regular account, this is a little bit, but for an account with a broad audience, this is quite a lot. On the other hand, the level of engagement for the Adidas profile is 0.59, which indicates a leading relationship in matters of audience involvement in the corporate business of the company.
Table 5. Summary statistics of two companies’ parameters (based on Social Blade data).
It is interesting to note that the content posted by Adidas on the social network Instagram is not unique. In most cases, this is the same news or events but released with a different design and text. Nike’s strategy in this sense is the same: what the company publishes on Instagram is consistent with Twitter posts. It is noteworthy that all videos lead the user to the YouTube channel, thereby increasing their activity on it. The only link that follows Instagram rules leads the user to the official website of the company offering to buy goods or get acquainted with company news.
The difference between company strategies is the regularity of the published content. Although the frequency of publications is low, Nike marketers work on Instagram reasonably evenly throughout the week. They give priority at the end of the week and publish mainly on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. As with Twitter content, Adidas marketers show more posts over a month. They work less intensively on weekends, but are active on weekdays, especially on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Perhaps this is their strategy to compete with Nike so that they do not overlap on publication days.
After analysis, we can conclude that both companies need to create their own Instagram account. This becomes clear from the regularity of publications, an alternative approach to creating text and media content. Despite the high level of Nike account promotion, the Adidas profile has a higher engagement level, which implies closer interaction between the brand and its users. Companies have not only the official account of the organization but also additional accounts to cover the various interests of subscribers.
Social networks are, first of all, communication: when companies publish messages in their business accounts, they expect a response from users. This includes likes, comments, reviews, troubleshooting tips, and other attributes of regular communication. It is essential to understand that even the most beautiful and convenient site, adapted for all mobile devices, does not allow him to communicate with the company as much as possible on social networks.
Also, not every user will leave comments on the site, waiting for a response from other consumers or brands. Today’s social media market offers companies a wide range of connectivity options. In addition to local and little-known platforms, the Internet provides brands with global networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Each of these platforms has its unique features, which allows them to be individual leaders in the social networking market.
Two sports brands, Adidas and Nike, entered the virtual social media market in the middle of the last decade, creating a YouTube channel. Over time and the development of other social networks, brands have created accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Since then, much time has passed, and enough statistics have been collected to make assumptions about the effectiveness of the presence of companies on social networks.
The best in the field of SMM strategies was Nike, which showed good results in almost all respects. Adidas was able to provide little competition only through personalization and customer approach. Although the number of Adidas subscribers is much smaller, the company can increase its reach and user engagement through more regular content releases. Despite this, each sports brand can boast of examples of good work in certain areas.
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