This article has been updated for you to keep you updated about the latest developments in the social media food battle between: Pizza Hut vs. Domino's.
There are many classic examples of legendary brand rivalries out there. For example: When you think about soft drinks you immediately think of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, when it comes to fast food you might think of Burger King and McDonald’s, eventually you’ll notice that you could continue this game for hours. But instead of looking at soft drinks or burgers for this blog post, I decided to take a closer look at another one of these countless examples, namely two of the biggest Pizza brands worldwide: Pizza Hut and Domino’s.
But why these two franchise companies? If you a take a closer look at both companies, you immediately recognize that they have a lot in common. For instance, both businesses were founded in the United States, both companies started their businesses in the late 50’s/ early 60’s (Pizza Hut was founded in 1958 and Domino’s in 1960), and the two each have over 13,000 restaurants worldwide. You see there are already a lot of overlaps and similarities. This was reason enough for me to take a closer look at these brands and their social media presence. By digging deeper into the activities of their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, I aimed to reveal more insights on their social media strategies.
The time period chosen for comparing the food chains is July 1, 2017 - September 30, 2017.
Pizza Hut Goes Strong on Facebook
In the beginning, I will look a bit more at the overall Facebook numbers. This will happen throughout the observation of the strengths and weaknesses of both pizza makers in terms of post frequency, the number of fans and interactions.
By digging deeper into the results of the number of published posts, I detected that Pizza Hut had the highest post output. They published 133 posts in the three months with a strong focus on images: 91 posts (68.7%) of their overall Facebook content were photos. The remaining 42 posts consists of videos, links and status posts.
In comparison, Domino’s ended up posting 43 posts on Facebook. That’s three times less than Pizza Hut. The focus by brands on posting pictures is also visible for Domino’s Facebook account: 38 of their posts were images, 22 video posts and 2 status posts. By comparing these numbers with each other, we can already see that Pizza Hut had a stronger focus on distributing their content to their audience.
The second thing I wanted to look at is the amount of Facebook fans. In our case, we can see that Pizza Hut has not only gained more fans (923,000) compared to Domino’s (430,000) between July and September 2017 but also has a higher number of total Facebook fans. Domino’s has 41% less - 18.1 million Facebook fans - than Pizza Hut who have 30.6 million fans.
Domino’s Tweets on Average 118 Times per Day
After looking at the overall Facebook performance, it is now time to switch to another network - Twitter. For the start, I’ll give you a general overview of the Twitter follower numbers and tweets.
In terms of followers, both brands are close to one another. Only 300,000 followers separate the two: Pizza Hut has 1.5 million followers and Domino’s trails them very closely with their 1.2 million followers.
Looking at the number of tweets a trend be detected: Domino’s tweets 5 times more than Pizza Hut. The exact figures look like this: 10,763 tweets were posted by Domino’s and only 2,942 by Pizza Hut. This means that Domino’s tweets on average 118 times every day whereas Pizza Hut only approximately tweets 32 tweets per day.
But now let’s take a look at the tweets both brands posted. More specifically I’ll tell who had the most retweeted tweets. The winner in this is Domino’s. In their really popular tweet which also received the most retweets, they asked a question that is a controversial topic among all pizza eaters: Should we put pineapple on your pizza or not? That led to over 1,200 retweets - two times more than Pizza Hut’s most retweeted tweet (604 retweets) - and to over 1800 likes. Little info on the side: Most of the people that interacted with this tweet were against pineapple on pizza.
Are people STILL arguing if pineapples go on pizza?!
RT if you're pro-pineapple , FAVORITE if you're against pineapple on ! pic.twitter.com/9yyv8sKLwI
— Domino's Pizza (@dominos) 6 August 2017
Pizza Hut’s most popular tweet shows their solidarity with their employees of a local Pizza Hut restaurant that delivered pizza to the community that got hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. This is not only wise from a social media perspective but a really great gesture of humanity. Shout out to the Pizza Hut team in Sugar Land Texas.
THANK YOU to our Oak Lake Pizza Hut team for their out-of-the-car response to deliver hot pizzas all day to the community they serve. pic.twitter.com/Xmkv9XhrKw
— Pizza Hut (@pizzahut) 30 August 2017
Now, it is time to switch platforms and take a closer look at Instagram. At the end of May of this year, a video appeared on YouTube that captured a rather confusing conversation between a restaurant employee and a person that wants to order a “boneless pizza.” The video has more than 7.4 million views, nearly 9,000 comments and now turned into a meme. But why am I talking about a YouTube video when I was looking at Pizza Hut and Domino’s Instagram presence? The reason is simple: Both companies used this interesting piece of internet culture for their own social media strategy.
Ein Beitrag geteilt von Pizza Hut (@pizzahut) am
Pizza Hut’s 1,256,000 followers liked the post 47,000 times and leftover 10,000 comments on the post. This is a great example of how a meme and the social media strategy of a worldwide acting food brand can merge. It is worth noticing that this post was the most liked and most commented Instagram post in the given period. Also interesting in this case is that Pizza Hut already used the “Boneless Pizza Meme” in their own strategy one month after the original video was posted.
Domino’s, in this case, was a little bit later than Pizza Hut. One month after Pizza Hut posted their take on the “Boneless Pizza Meme”, Domino’s reply followed. Domino’s take on the “Boneless Pitta Meme” only had half the likes and nowhere close as many comments as the Pizza Hut post, but its 17,000 likes still makes it to the seventh most liked Instagram posted in the 3rd quarter of 2017.
Ein Beitrag geteilt von Domino's Pizza (@dominos) am
Well done by the Pizza Hut and Domino’s social media team by capturing the social media zeitgeist. A great reminder that today’s internet culture can even influence the social media strategy of worldwide acting food brands.
Content Is the Key to Success
Let’s put the spotlight on a different network. By look at the YouTube performance of both brand’s we can certainly see that Domino’s is way ahead of Pizza Hut in terms of subscribers. Whereas Domino’s has 125,670 subscribers, Pizza Hut only has half of the subscribers (67,776). What’s fascinating about this is not that Domino’s not only has more subscribers, but that they only have half the videos uploaded to YouTube. That led to the fact that Domino’s had way fewer views, just 3.8 million, compared to Pizza Hut with 13.3 million views. Pizza Hut, on the one hand, has fewer subscribers, but a higher output of videos - 138 compared to 55 published videos by Domino’s.
Interesting takeaway for digital marketers in this relation is that the subscriber numbers do not really matter if you have the right content for your audience. The most important factor for success on social media is that the audience perceives your content and eventually interacts with it. Another example of why the old myth that the follower number is the most important KPI is outdated.
The Last Slice of Pizza Goes to...
It’s now time to share the last piece. In general it’s refreshing to see how these companies adapt to the fast moving internet culture and even include user generated content like the “Boneless Pizza meme” to their strategy. Both brands added a personal touch to their digital media strategy and really emphasized on the social part of social media. In particular, could this be seen in Pizza Hut’s charity act to help the people that got hit by Hurricane Harvey or in a less serious way with Domino’s pineapple post.
Last but not least, a reminder for all digital marketers: Don’t focus solely on the follower/ fan numbers, because other factors like the amount of comments and reactions are eventually determining the success of your digital campaign.