DEERE vs. CAT: who will win the “likes” of ‘merica??!?

Hey TMMBA’ers, Andrew here… I was originally going to post about the marketing channels in use by Grumpy Cat and Colonel Meow, but sadly the Colonel passed away tragically on January 30th. You can read about that here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseamarshall/in-memoriam-of-colonel-meow

So I chose John Deere and Caterpillar instead. Why you ask? Because I’m a little boy at heart and TRUCKS ARE REEEEEEALLLY REALLLLY RAD, OK?

JOHN DEERE

I started out my adventure by stumbling upon this little article about John Deere, the Original Content Marketer: http://marketingland.com/is-john-deere-the-original-content-marketer-2-49138. In it, it describes how John Deere started a magazine called The Furrow in “hopes of being a resource for their customers.” Here’s another which covers the topic: article: https://todaymade.com/blog/history-of-content-marketing/

After that, my expectations were sky high for John Deere. Unlike CAT (see below) finding John Deere’s landing page and corporate statement about social media or content is very hard, but finding evidence for how it uses social media is not: http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2011/11/john-deere-uses-social-media-to-feed-the-hungry.html

  1. Twitter (68k followers): Multiple Twitter accounts. @JohnDeere, @JDCLASSIC, @JohnDeereJobs, etc. and they have TONS of handles. Looks like they encourage certain employees to have twitter accounts. And John Deere Argentina. ¡Seguinos! Very fun, videos (even at the expense of Deere). Charity (lots of focus on charity golf)
  2. Facebook (2.1m likes): Much more focus on product than on Twitter. Stories about “’merica” and heartland farmers. Compared to Twitter, JD doesn’t seem to spend as much time on Facebook shenanigans.
  3. Instagram (11k followers): Like Facebook only more sepia toned.
  4. Google+: No visible or consistent presence on Google+
  5. YouTube (30,957): Not only is there a central John Deere YouTube channel, there is one for each country. Broken down between Agriculture, Construction, Forestry and Expos, Deere really pushes it’s product to the forefront.
  6. LinkedIn (109,300 followers): Less frequently updated than CAT. Less focused on employment. Highlighting it’s placement in Employer lists and highlighting some executives.

CATERPILLAR

Caterpillar has some tough shoes to fill. I started by finding a social media website http://www.caterpillar.com/en/news/social-media.html (which was really easy to find, +1 for CAT) and participates in Facebook (241,665 likes), Twitter, YouTube (18,577 subscribers), Google+ (1.6M views) and LinkedIn (174,353 followers).

Caterpillar seems to focus its content on the different channels even though there are articles shared across the board.

  1. LinkedIn: Leans on “rags to riches, American Dreams” story. The first article on LinkedIn is about Bill Naumann, “From Machinist Apprentice to Chairman of the Board”. Heavy emphasis on “Shaping America” and Employment.
  2. Google+: Heavy emphasis on Sustainability and the word “Global” is much more prominent in the marketing.
  3. Facebook: A little more “fun” (some memes) but overall focus on company messaging, and again Sustainability
  4. Twitter: Similar to Facebook, frequent posts. Bright and colorful, mostly cool pictures of trucks. Cross posting with NBC (“Are you watching @NBCDreamBuilder right now? Look for the Cat machines! #DreamBuilders). Cross posting with YouTube.
  5. YouTube: YouTube seems to be ground zero for CAT. It’s a place where there is high visibility to Expos, Safety, Sustainability and corporate videos.

CONCLUSION:

Both CAT and Deere seem to care about social media and focus exclusively on a few channels. I’d argue that it seems that Deere feels like it’s their “duty” to carry on the mantle. Deere’s emphasis and focus on Twitter is really stand out. It’s confident and playful, and the interaction by the company employees and fans keeps it relevant and fun. The content strategy on Twitter seems to rely heavily on outside or user generated content.

CAT is trying to sell the image of a more adult and professional company, one that relies very heavily on the “hard-working American” aesthetic, and it comes across in their entire web presence. CAT, appropriately, had a MUCH larger tie in to LinkedIn, focusing heavily on the company’s core values, personal stories, and highlighting the best from its posts on Facebook and the like.

What surprised me the most was that both have an extremely strong connection to YouTube, which I guess isn’t surprising now that I think about the product and the ways that YouTube extends itself into the expo space, even with very expensive contribution and farming equipment.

Also interesting was the lack of interest in Facebook. It seems more like a formality to both companies than a pure investment.

I only had a few hours to play around in this space with either, but in the end, Deere’s concentration on Twitter and YouTube kept me reading. It was actually fun, and it seems like they have fun with their brand and are not sticklers for their “fans” taking it and running with it. That they have a lot of devoted fans (even those that create memes) says a lot for the power of their brand and their social media presence. I spent about 30 minutes wandering through Deere’s Twitter page which ultimately also connected me into the Instagram page (and then on to Facebook).

My take aways were that both companies seem to care about their social media and content presence, but really focus on Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. It’s way more than an exercise for Deere, it seems like it is a broad commitment to their community (which these days includes a heavy social media aspect). CAT seems to devote time and effort to YouTube and LinkedIn, so I think they are very focused on channels that provide them with value. Both update frequently. With different emphasis on Twitter and LinkedIn depending on the company. Facebook and Google+ seem to be almost afterthoughts.

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