Why Starting A Social Network Would Be Apple’s Most Aggressive Marketing Strategy
Apple must be the only company in the world with a head of social media turned digital director on board and no social media presence – it’s not just any social media manager either; it’s Musa Tariq, the former global director of social for both Nike and Burberry.
Which begs the question, what does Musa Tariq do all day?
According to his Twitter bio – ‘Play at Apple.’
Now, the point of this blog isn’t to say that Apple should be doing social media. They shouldn’t. Without wanting to undermine the value of my own job(!), they don’t need it. They have huge swathes of fans already acting as brand advocates for them – in fact way too many to actually engage with or build a community for, and they can reach these fans more directly with any marketing messages they wish to push through email marketing, push notifications on their Apple devices, and the Apple News screensaver you’ll find on Mac. Not that they really need to do that either, people buy Apple products on an automatic upgrade cycle in order to own the latest incarnation of the brand, to the extent that the brand could probably re-launch the iPhone 6 with shiny number 7 in place of the 6 and still achieve record sales. Buying a product for its features is something less hip Android fans do.
And lets face it, there’s something cool about being the only kid in the class too aloof for social media. When it comes to big brands, that kid is Apple.
What is the point of this blog then, you ask?
It’s to posit that Apple shouldn’t be doing social media like other mere mortal brands. They should be doing social networks.
I won’t claim this is an entirely new idea for Apple – Steve Jobs introduced the short-lived Ping service as part of an iTunes update back in 2010. Ping allowed users to follow their favourite artists and post status updates – and remnants of it still exist within Apple Music: users ‘follow’ their favourite bands; and the music discovery section of the app is titled ‘Connect’. Last September, two years after Ping bit the dust, the rumour mill was rife with reports that Apple was set to acquire the ‘friends-only’ mobile-only social app Path.
It’s not really a surprise that this is an avenue Apple have explored either – a huge, huge part of the reason that both social networks and the iPhone have seen such phenomenal levels of success and uptake is that we as humans are wired to connect with other humans and to share information with them. Who in Apple’s position wouldn’t want to fuse the two together and create the ultimate social network?
Whether or not users are turning away from Facebook is a hotly debated topic, but regardless of who’s right I think there’s room for a new, bigger and better social network – and Apple should by utilising their pulling power with Generation Z to make sure it’s them. Remember, this is a generation raised on technology – they don’t mind that their iPhone knows everything about them – so imagine what a social network that knows everything about its users could do.
Your iPhone knows where you are, it knows where your friends are, who your best friends are. It knows what music you like, where you shop and how much you spend, it knows everything you’ve ever asked Siri, and it can see all your photos.
Now, envision a social network that knows all of this and more – it would allow you connect with your friends when you’re nearby, could show you offers and updates from brands you’re actually interested with offers tailored for you, allow you to share photos and videos more easily than ever before, and further build on Apple products’ integration with your life.
Apple are already very good at influencing youth culture – here’s what people think of you if you have harsh green texting bubbles instead of cool blue iMessage ones within messages:
Non-Apple users are already getting left out – and an Apple social network would only compound this. For a generation suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out) there’s nothing worse than feeling excluded.
And, that’s when an Apple-owned social network exclusively for Apple users will really impact their bottom line.