Why Apple Doesn’t Tweet

In a consumer-first, innovation-driven social world, Apple is the odd man out. Considering that its rivals, Google, Microsoft and Samsung have millions of followers on Twitter, Apple stands out as a solitary example of how “thinking different” can translate to “we’re not participating.”

But what’s the reasoning behind their move? Is it sheer obstinate behavior? An unwillingness to conform or “get with the times”? Or is there something deeper behind their decision? And can we learn anything from it? Read on for all the answers.

Many Branches Feed into the Apple Tree

Just because there’s no official @Apple Twitter account (there is an account, but it’s graced with the early-bird egg avatar and is likely not related to the tech giant), doesn’t mean Apple’s not keeping a close eye on how and where its products and services are mentioned.

apple-tweet

The @Apple doesn’t fall far from the Tweet

There are plenty of @iTunes accounts, for @iTunesMusic, @iTunesMovies and @iTunesPodcasts to name a few. The @AppStore and @iBooks are also on Twitter, not to mention the hordes of Mac-related bloggers and product reviewers.

tech-on-twitter

Source: CNBC

You can bet that although there’s no official presence, Apple is hovering nearby, like a keen-eyed mother hen watching over her “chicks”. With a variety of smaller “branches” dedicated to its products and services, Apple gets away with its lack of a centralized account. Even @iPhoneTeam, which has nearly 400,000 followers, is manned by an unrelated mobile development company.

In Apple’s mind, the decision is simple: why bother tweeting out product announcements and new developments when our legion of fans will do it for us? Plus, it’s not like Apple to run any door-buster specials anytime soon… (*hopeful sigh*)

Market Matters More

According to CNBC, Apple has a strict schedule in terms of product introductions. If they suddenly appeared on Twitter and shifted their existing schedule, the markets would read that unlikely turn of events as Apple caving into social pressure – not exactly the image you want to convey when you’re so busy trying to maintain the “premium experience”.

In his CNBC interview, Brian Sozzi noted that “Apple has nothing to gain by creating an account.” Furthermore, he explained that “[t]here is no way Apple is going to take questions via the Twitter universe [about its earnings reports]… Apple isn’t going to be like Starbucks and run promoted tweets offering dollars off a product for a limited time…You go to Apple, they do not go to you.”

But is everything centered around shareholders? That’s one piece of the puzzle, but the underlying theme that bleeds through the conversation is that Apple wants:

An Iron Grip on Communications

In their frame of mind – if you can’t control it, why bother? It’s that kind of tight-fisted controlling grip that has users split on whether or not there should even be a voice for @Apple. On one hand, there are the droves of people who love the company and its products regardless of whether or not it embraces social media. Then there are those who’ve had problems and need a place to vent or just ask questions.

Unfortunately for the latter, there’s not much relief. Apple has created a presence for itself on a variety of other social networks, including YouTube, LinkedIn (for job postings) and Facebook, but it’s pretty much a ghost town.

Even Apple-sponsored YouTube videos, like the one below showcasing the many unique and ingenious ways to use the iPad, invites users to create their own stories – but not on YouTube’s comments section, where comments have been disabled.

“Your Verse” doesn’t matter to us nearly as much as “Your Purse”

Instead, the video links to Apple’s own site with more in-depth looks at the personalities profiled in the video. Although it’s called “Your Verse”, you can’t add a single line of “poetry” to any of the profiles or pages. It’s a very “look, but don’t speak” kind of setup. And that’s precisely the way Apple likes it.

So Why Hasn’t Their Strategy Backfired?

Imagine for a moment that Google had followed this exact same strategy. Or Amazon. Or Microsoft. Would people be outraged? You bet. Apple “gets away” with it (and I use that phrase lightly) simply because they pride themselves on being “just that good.” If Microsoft or Google had mimicked Apple’s move, the view would be shifted to a very David-and-Goliath sort of battlefield. The company’s not listening to us. They don’t care about what we have to say.

But is Apple really so different? Had Twitter existed before 2001 when the first iPod was introduced, Apple would’ve likely grabbed for any slide of positive media mention it could get its hands on. Times were markedly different, and the world thought it didn’t need another Walkman.

They were wrong.

Few companies have experienced such a 180-degree shift as Apple. But are they letting their success go to their head? Or are they making a smart pre-emptive/defensive move in saying “if we can’t control it, we don’t want any part of it.”

What Can We Learn from Apple’s Strategy?

On the surface, it’s difficult to glean any shred of insight from Apple’s hands-off social strategy. True, when innovation and premium experience are the hallmarks you want to be known for, then being a chatty Cathy on social media clashes against that brand image. There’s also the aspect of control. When you keep a tightly-run ship, it’s hard for leaks to penetrate. Still, there’s no excuse for sticking your digital head in the sand and hoping no one notices your failures. Perhaps Apple feels better equipped to handle the customer experience in its stores rather than on its screens.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics.  Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up.  Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!

  1. Brilliant article, Sherice.

    My bet would be that it’s a branding thing.

    As you said, they’ve always branded themselves as being “simply the best” … they’ve always had unapologetically high prices, because they’re “just that good”.

    Getting all chitty-chatty with the rest of us, jumping on the promo-tweeting bandwagon with the rest of the riff raff in the market would instantly destroy the “just that good” image.

    — Ben Lawton

  2. They don’t tweet because they’re smarter than the lot. Apple is in the business of selling products. Not engaging with their advocates- whatever that means.

  3. Jason Lamarre Jun 13, 2014 at 6:31 am

    I would likely say its a come in store strategy. By going into their store, you are now in “their” territory and putting them in the driver seat. While you wait for a genius in the beautiful Apple store, you may be apt to look around and buy another Apple product. So what once was a complaint now turned into a new sale and there really is nothing better than hands on customer service. The strategy overall is probably one of the best.

  4. Excellent article Sherrice. I think you’re right on the money–to be on social channels you have to be willing to go out and engage with the masses, and you also have to be willing to give up a certain amount of control.

    We don’t know the real reasons, but in today’s world the effect of silence on social channels definitely gives off an air of superiority, to put it in the worst light, or mystery, to put it in the best.

  5. Sawaram Suthar Jun 13, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I agree with few point like “they are confident that they are good” but that doesn’t mean to avoid using Twitter. They should share thought, innovative things and tips on twitter related technology as they are leader in this sector. I highly recommend them to use twitter so that their lover on twitter can get benefited.

  6. Kartik Chaturvedi Jun 13, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Great article,

    I like how balanced the article is, but I’ll be honest, I am not a fan boy. I do like their products (barring the Iphone), but I do not think that steering clear from the social media is a sign of a superior air. I think Apple is scared, it is scared that as soon as they open the flood gates, the complaints will start pouring in, and they do not want to handle it. Two words for them, man up!

  7. Apple doesn’t listen in any way. And they make arbitrary decisions. The hyperlinks in my Alicewinks iBook have been broken since (at least) February. Initially they blamed iTunes Connect (the upload mechanism!) And closed the ticket. After that they have opened two more tickets based on my emails but have not fixed the bug! I sent a certified letter to Tim Cook in February 2013 complaining about arbitrary (and conflicting) decisions by the movie and app divisions of iTunes regarding the “vertical video” that each side rejected, the movie side because it wasn’t a movie and the app side because it was “just a movie.” No reply. I bet Steve Jobs would have replied.

    • David, interesting and food for thought. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to hearing more from you :)

  8. A good article – I agree that it’s all about control. If you think about everything they do, they only communicate in one direction and tightly control everything Apple-related. Such as how they only allow their OS X software to be run on their own hardware, or how the only apps on an iphone are only those vetted and sold through the app store.

  9. Jason Statham Jun 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    You are right. I haven’t noticed it until today. Apple really does not have a twitter account. But even if that is the case, I believe that they are everywhere. They dominate every store and applications that there could possibly be for smartphones. That must be what’s working for them now, but for how long?

  10. Honestly, I’d say the only thing we can learn from Apple’s strategy is once you’ve got a brand image going–stick to it, no matter how terrifying…but even if your image drives you into the ground? Apple sells exclusivity–but guess who sold 70% of all smartphones in 12 key markets by the end of Jan 2014?
    Yep. A company that listens.
    (And by April, company insiders were already revealing that Apple is worried about increasing Android phone sales.)

  11. apple has a help forum linked with their website which allows feedbacks and FAQ. Besides their their service centres and phone helplines are great, why bother with twitter?

    • Jaxe, sometimes Twitter is more convenient and reaches a larger swath of people. I understand your point though :)

  12. I admire how Apple brands itself the best for I agree that its way of marketing its products or services just sets the company apart from others. Being odd or unique sometimes pays off well.

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