Siri, We Have a Problem

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Published on September 14, 2016 at 4:50 p.m.
by Melody Schmidt.

“Completely re-engineered.”
“A huge advancement in photography for cell phones.”
“60% faster and 30% more energy efficient.”

All of these phrases were used to describe the highly anticipated, newest line of products announced by Apple on Sept. 7, 2016.

Although Apple prides itself on being the front line of new and innovative technology, most of the updates and features included in the iPhone 7 were considered relatively predictable by technology experts and consumers. No major changes were made in the overall design developed two generations of iPhones ago. Overall mixed reactions came as a surprise for a company with such fierce brand loyalty, a stark contrast to the usual glowing reviews following Apple’s product launches.

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As a future PR professional pursuing a career in digital public relations, I found myself asking a big question following the launch announcement: How does a company whose primary focus is to innovate and influence the way people use technology thrive without using social media? It seems counterintuitive that a company known for being forward-thinking and on-trend chooses to forgo the appealing advantages of social media.

Outside of its @AppleSupport Twitter account, the company’s social media presence is virtually nonexistent, a bold move in a world where maintaining an online presence and interacting with consumers is so critical for corporate public image. Although Apple has created a Facebook page and Twitter account, the company has yet to publish any permanent posts on either platform. Accounts for Instagram and other platforms have yet to be created.

Even though this kind of corporate social media policy could be detrimental to other companies, Apple’s reputation for groundbreaking technology allows it to bend the rules a bit, setting its own standard for how to market successful products and stay connected to its consumer base. Apple has successfully implemented both traditional and innovative PR tactics, including press releases, keynote press conferences, live-streams and interactive web communication.

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Perhaps the biggest reason why Apple has been able to reach its key publics without social media is what every company aims to achieve through PR: a longstanding, favorable reputation. Since its inception, Apple has focused on an often overlooked, key component of building a successful brand image: how its products make people feel.

Even though Apple has been incredibly successful without social media, a potential switch might be in the not-so-distant future. Shortly before its keynote product launch event, Apple actually tweeted from its formerly empty Twitter account, before later deleting the posts. These tweets were “leaked” minutes before the official unveiling of the iPhone 7. Although some considered the posts to be a mistake on Apple’s part, it’s been speculated that this was the first digital PR move for Apple and a hint to a future social media presence to come. That “accident” may not have been an accident at all.

Although it’s hard to say at the moment what Apple’s next big PR strategy will be, only time will tell if Apple will adapt to the changing digital landscape by joining social networks.

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