Unicorns vs. Munchkins: There's a Social Media Battle Brewing

Jonathan Gardner

ShareIQ, the earned media performance platform for brands, today announced an analysis of social media engagement by the two top national coffee chains: Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts.

The two brands go head to head on platforms like Facebook and Instagram in a battle for consumer engagement and the crown as king of the US $37 billion retail coffee market. In this report, Starbucks was the clear winner on Instagram, racking up 10 million likes -- huge engagement that was nearly 17 times the performance of Dunkin' Donuts.

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The analysis through March 24, 2018 examined the online and social media content engagement for the two brands and found that while Starbucks simply crushes on Instagram, Dunkin' does much better on Facebook. Starbucks had only 5 times Dunkin' Donuts’ Facebook engagement. Overall, Starbucks does better on social media because:

  • Starbucks has a much bigger fan base with more than 12 times the Instagram followers and 2.4 times Dunkin' Donuts’ Facebook fans.
  • While both brands repost user-generated content, Starbucks reposts content from social media users with much bigger followings; Starbucks works with a lot of powerful influencers to create “art directed” stylish content designed to go viral.
  • While both brands are international and have numerous social media accounts, some of Starbucks’ have huge follower counts.

However, the Munchkin-making champ is trying out new types of content and promotions to increase consumer engagement. Since the start of the year, Dunkin’s top-performing Facebook image content has been an on-brand post (below) showcasing their new partnership for Girl Scout cookie inspired coffee flavors. The content is also a rare example of Dunkin' cross-posting their images from Instagram to Facebook, etc., which is a strategy that many brands find successful. This post has garnered 3,700 reactions on Facebook and more than 17,000 engagements on Instagram thus far.

DD girl scout Facebook-1

Starbucks’ content strategy is very much targeted toward Instagram engagement and much of their most viral imagery focuses on their colorful seasonal and special occasion drinks, with some shots showcasing food products. Since the start of 2018, Starbucks has been “chasing the Unicorn,” seeking to follow up the smash social sensation of last year with the Crystal Ball Frappuccino and huge product launches like their #BlondeEspresso (a post about which garnered 47,000 reactions on Facebook in January).

Their top performing post in 2018 (below) has been a regram of an influencer post by Lauryn Evarts Bosstick (@theskinnyconfidential) featuring the hashtagged #PinkDrink. Starbucks’ winning social media strategy emphasizes consistent regrams of user-generated and influencer-crafted content that highlights viral drink and snack sensations.

Pink Drink.png

Dunkin' Donuts is seeing success -- especially on Facebook -- with a lot of seasonal and holiday-themed content that naturally goes very heavy on showing off delicious doughy treats. They have a spectacularly colorful and fun social media feed that relies heavily on user-generated content. However, those users generally have very small social media followings, limiting any added influencer boost to make content go viral.

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This analysis was conducted using ShareIQ Competitive Analytics which gives up front and at a glance the most critical information a marketer needs to benchmark and optimize their campaign performance across Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and the web. The software platform answers important questions for brands, such as:

  • How much have I grown my audience in the most recent period?
  • Is engagement per post growing or shrinking?
  • What is my reach compared with the competition?
  • Am I growing faster than the competition?
  • What metrics can I use to show growth or where there’s room for improvement?

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ShareIQ announced an analysis of social media engagement by the top two national coffee chains, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts
Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan is vice president of marketing for ShareIQ, based in New York City.