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Inside Apple's odd, yet effective, social media strategy

Matt Kapko | Sept. 3, 2015
Apple does social media differently than its peers in the tech world, and though it isn't ignoring social to the extent it did in the past, you shouldn't expect to see any official @Apple account on Twitter anytime soon.

apple logo eyeball
Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Apple has repeatedly shunned the status quo and routinely defied the odds of success throughout its nearly 30-year history. If there's one thing Apple proves time and again it's that it doesn't have to — nor does it want to — follow the unwritten rules of business, technology or marketing.

While Apple generally distances itself from social media on a corporate level, the company's CEO Tim Cook and many of its flagship services, including the App Store, Apple Music and Beats1, take a more active and meaningful approach to the medium. The pervasive strength of Apple's brand means it can break rules other marketers must follow on Twitter, Facebook and other networks without consequence.

Why is there no @Apple Twitter account?

Apple's minimalist presence on social media, such as its unwillingness to use the @Apple Twitter handle, seems to bear no impact on the company and its generally positive perception among customers. "Apple would be a terrible example to follow [on social] for most brands," says David Berkowitz, CMO at creative and technology agency MRY

When Apple embraces platforms like Twitter on the periphery, however, it can amass a huge audience with relatively little effort. Cook, for example, has collected 1.44 million followers since joining Twitter two years ago. Apple Music has 7.5 million followers, the App Store is approaching 4 million, iTunes has 806,000, and the recently launched Beats1 account already has more than 314,000 followers on Twitter.

The company is even more difficult to find on Facebook, but an unofficial page for an Apple Inc. "computer store" has more than 24.5 million "Likes." The company doesn't appear to have any sort of official, overarching Facebook page, yet that unendorsed page has 5.5 million more Likes than Google's official (and highly active) page. The new official Facebook page for Apple Music also has more than 1 million Likes.

Marketers pay top dollar for audiences on Facebook at that scale, but Apple apparently couldn't care less, despite the untapped and highly coveted opportunity.

"Apple doesn't need to, nor does it have a history of, communicating updates to either [Twitter or Facebook]," says Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group. "Having a Twitter account, if you want it to mean something, takes care, intention and thoughtfulness. At the moment, all of Apple's needs, and more importantly its customers and stakeholders on Twitter, are covered."  

Apple's unique approach to social not recommended 

It's generally a bad idea for brands to follow Apple's approach to social media, thereby lacking a centrally managed brand presence, according to Berkowitz. Many companies cherish, and in some cases require, the reach that social media provides, to promote new products or minimize damage if something goes wrong. But not every brand needs to be active on every major social network. "Brands should actually be more selective right now given that major social media channels typically require paid media budgets to amplify messages to a wide audience."


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