As a Seattleite, the rideshare companies Lyft and Uber—and the Seattle City Council’s vote to cap their driving hordes—have recently become a part of my daily discourse. Well, that’s not entirely true; as an Eastsider I occasionally condescended to listen to local NPR pieces about the city council’s vote in an effort to better understand the rabble across the lake.
Nevertheless, the differences and similarities in both companies’ approach to social media reveals a story far more fascinating than that of a simple city council vote. In fact, it’s a tale as old as time; a tale of the army of black-clad SUVs hinting at a Kafkaesque authoritarian state against the pink-mustachioed rebels leading a charismatic fight and possibly holed up in Alderaan.
Perhaps I’m getting carried away. In any case, the two companies use similar social media in very different ways, and it shows two very different companies in an industry that has traditionally been treated as a commodity.
Both Uber and Lyft compete primarily in the same social media spaces. Namely, these have been Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and their own blog. One important difference to note is the structure of these accounts: Uber has local accounts for many of their locations whereas Lyft predominately operates from a global account in the Twitter/Facebook arena.
In an effort to perform an apples-to-apples comparison, I’ve stuck mostly to comparing the global accounts to one another, and it’s likely that this has skewed my observation.
Let’s get on with it…
Here’s A Table
As you can see in this aforementioned table, Uber is the clear front runner in terms of pure audience. With nearly 300% of the followers on Twitter and over 200% of the likes on Facebook, this comparison should be open and shut—on every platform Uber has a bigger audience.
With that said, the activity shows a different story. On their Blog and YouTube Uber does little to segregate their two main audiences—drivers and riders. This means a somewhat schizophrenic portfolio of content, where messages to Uber Partners (drivers) are mixed largely with roll outs to new cities . This is particularly important because Uber’s blog is its one of their most heavily-used content channels.
On the other hand, Lyft is more active in nearly all categories (the exceptions being their blog, in which Uber is significantly more active, and YouTube, where the compaies are tied). in each of the categories, Lyft also gives the impression of being more in-touch with their audience. As an example, Lyft follows more than 20,000 of their users on Twitter! Not only is this nearly as many followers as they have, but it’s also significantly more than the 281 acounts that Uber follows (mostly local Uber accounts and Uber employees).
Twitter is a good platform to examine first for representative samples. I present two screen captures from Twitter, both taken from near the top of their feed:
Here’s something from Uber’s public twitter feed:
Uber is (intentionally or not) clear in their message, “You are all the same. Also, please fill out this form.”
This theme oddly continues with Facebook.
Now, in this case they’re promoting the same event, so it’s more forgivable (sort of). Nevertheless, they’re certainly a fan of templates!
Here’s Lyft’s feed, taken from the top of thier feed (similar to Uber):
Uber is the 300-pound Gorilla in this space. Their clean, crisp all-black persona is currently winning in the world of ride sharing, but Lyft’s presence in social media might be an indication that they’re playing the long game—customer retention. As more people expect to interact with brands online, Lyft is poised to capture their loyalty and retain them with the power of mustaches and friendliness.