Ryan Stephens Marketing

Does Apple need a Community Evangelist?

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of weeks, and thought it would make interesting conversation fodder. I was quick to judge OfficeMax’s viral video campaign (and hold true to my sentiment) despite the campaign’s great success, but it is tough to question companies that aren’t (in the scheme of things) struggling.

I know I’m probably incapable of helping Apple in the way that John Moore could be helping Starbucks if they subscribed to his blog, but with the help of you, my readers, I’m confident we can have an interesting discussion about a very reputable brand and a real life scenario.

So Why a Community Evangelist?

Not quite a year ago, A-list tech blogger, Robert Scoble was having issues with his Mac, and didn’t get treated the way he wanted to, or the response he may (or may not) have anticipated from someone at Apple. It’s true that there are currently countless Mac advocates out there that would be more than willing to help someone out having problems, or someone thinking of converting.

One of the reasons Apple has probably avoided most of these problems is because they typically have the superior product, but in having a great product their machines will continue to become a lot more mainstream.

Andy Beal mentions both this notion and the idea that when this happens the Apple evangelists may eventually be spread too thin. He also discusses whether or not Apple really wants these ‘intense’ fans defending the company’s reputation?

Other Companies are Already Doing It

Dell, Comcast, Intel, IBM and other tech savvy companies are already listening and participating in conversations with respect to their brands. How satisfied is a Comcast customer that is having an issue that gets a response within an hour or two or Twitter, as opposed to tying up their phone line for over an hour to speak with someone in customer service?

The thing is though; Apple is not a company that likes to do anything second, much less be one of the last to the party. The company prides itself on innovation and being first. This is in large part, the reason they’re so secretive and tight lipped with all of their products and their respective launches. Rumor has it, that there are often times when the various departments within the company do not even know what each other are up to.

So What’s the Solution?

I was speaking with a professional that I admire very recently and he proposed that perhaps Scoble is the exception, and perhaps Apple would rather have their advocates or their community reps answering these types of questions. Initially, I think I might’ve been swayed on account of he knows more about (and has more experience) with marketing than I do, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that he was probably right.

I still think there’s room for a community evangelist and a social media strategy though.
Chris Lynn, of Social TNT, and admitted Mac fanboy purposes his five suggestions, and they are definitely worth taking a look at. Sure, having so many loyalists is phenomenal for Apple, and the company probably wants them sharing their experiences, but could they not benefit from a community evangelist that provides them with the necessary tools and information to excel in their role? I mean, I doubt campus reps actually monitor online conversations and the blogosphere.

What Do You Think?

This post doesn’t work as a standalone, so please offer your insight into what you think Apple’s social media strategy should be. Should they have a community evangelist? Is it ludicrous to critique a company that has been so successful of late? Your opinion matters to me!

  • No soup for you

    Apple is notorious for its secrecy, I don’t think that the company will be part of the ‘conversation’ any time soon. That wouldn’t be in their ‘best interests’. Apple is slow to acknowledge problems, for instance. It is not unusual for Apple to delete negative posts from their support site. Disgruntled customers will often quote these threads as evidence for their class action lawsuit, so Apple has a tendency to shoot on sight. I don’t think that a community evangelist would be allowed to talk on Apple’s behalf. It pretty much defeats the purpose, right? Most often, the company is not answering to the press, Apple don’t want to chat with customers either.

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  • http://conniebensen.com/ Connie Bensen

    EVERY brand needs a community manager. The bigger the company is, the more they need (ie: Dell & we have a team at Network Solutions too). What they will do will depend on the strategy & plan.

    I also think that Walmart needs one. I’ve been proposing that for a year. They are finally advertising for two now.

    Even small companies that can’t afford to have one should have someone doing those type of activities.

    My prediction is that in the future a Comm Mgr type position will lead marketing, PR, etc. Won’t the customers expect that?
    Connie

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