Frenemies: The Battle of Rival Brand Fans on Social Media

by Oct 23, 20180 comments

Shimone cringed as she looked through the negative comments and snide remarks of Nike fans on Adidas’s Facebook page: “Congrats on finally getting the running shoe we had two years ago!”

Ugh. Despite all the detailed planning of this latest campaign launch, she still felt anxious about and unprepared for the avalanche of social media trash talk that she found awaiting her on the brand’s social media pages.

She was doing everything her job as social media manager required: managing the performance of the company-owned social media touchpoints, fostering engagement of Adidas fans, and developing relevant content that communicates Adidas’s positioning and message.

Still, Shimone wondered whether she could or should do something about the rival Nike fans and their persistent and negative interaction on Adidas’s social media pages. Did those comments hurt the Adidas brand?

She realized the industry needs new metrics to understand and manage that type of rival-brand attack.

Shimone is not alone in feeling that the tools she has do not help manage or measure some forms of contemporary online consumer behavior, such as rival fan engagement.

We see similar rival fan dynamics in polarized brand dyads across verticals, including in politics, sports apparel, consumer goods, events, universities, and entertainment products. For example, Coke fans post derogatory comments on Pepsi’s fan page. Apple supporters post sarcastic comments on Samsung’s Facebook page. Crest fans belittle the new brand extension of Colgate on Colgate’s page. And Xbox and PlayStation fans endlessly duel to defend their brand choice.

Although there is growing concern about those interactions and their toxic impact on Internet culture, not much is known about their triggers and potential impact on brands’ broader social media engagement.

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