For Apple, Twitter is a giant billboard.

Imagine a busy town square. There are a LOT of people. Many are talking, many listening. Some are influential people who talk from a podium. There are people from all kinds of institutions – corporates, Government, administration etc. There is a lot of chatter, as a result. And it’s very, very noisy.

Then, a person walks in. He looks odd. He’s wearing a tape over his mouth. That immediately attracts attention. Even more bizarre – he’s also wearing 2 big banners, one on the front and one in the back. Both have some announcement about a product a company was planning to launch.

A lot of people ask that guy something about the banners and the information on it. But he doesn’t answer anyone. He just keeps walking. He walks purposefully, in front of a lot of chosen people. He stands in front of them for a few seconds, until they are able to read what’s on his banner… and then moves to another person.

Isn’t it how Apple’s behavior is, on Twitter? Zero tweets, zero engagement/response, and 100% promoted tweets, for its event/product launch. I don’t even understand why people bother ‘following’ Apple on Twitter since they decide who to reach, using *only* promoted tweets!

Basically, Twitter is a giant billboard for Apple. Thanks to Twitter’s Transparency Center, now we can see *all* of Apple’s promoted tweets in one place!

Amidst brands that use Twitter the good old way – engagement, interaction, response, human connection etc. this is another way Apple is reframing conventional notions. Following no other person, not having a single tweet or response at least gives a clear indication that, for the brand, this platform is only about broadcast, not engagement. Look at the engagement numbers – Apple had ads in 12 languages! What you don’t see in this page, you will notice when you click on each tweet – tons and tons of responses and chatter below each, in many, many languages. People are asking and exclaiming, and other people are reacting and responding.

The conventional thinking is, “OMG… so many people are interested in knowing about our products. Let’s get a well-trained team to listen in, prioritize and start interacting”. But, this is Apple. It lets its products do the talking. And controls the outlets from which it talks back – it’s own online forums, to an extent, and the offline stores. Plus, its customers who act as its voice, as if their lives were made for that purpose. Any other brand would be mauled for not interacting with people in the most buzz’y, interactive social media platform… accused of being tone-deaf. Not Apple. It makes the effort seem intentional and cool! That’s the power of making your products do the talking. It’s like a great, crisp joke that doesn’t need any explanation to ‘get it’. The joke here is on other brands, though 🙂

But, there is a valid use case like this for other brands too… brands that are not in the same space as Apple, but in the other extreme. Apple evokes a LOT of chatter and discussion. The other extreme is low-value, low-interaction category brands that evoke limited chatter. They could stop pretending that people are eager to talk about their chewing gum, soaps, toothpaste etc. and simply advertise on Twitter. But, paid promotion on Twitter is interruption-based advertising, like television. It impedes the flow of a timeline and hence, annoys. Twitter also allows you to report ads that people don’t appreciate or like (I don’t know if they act on it, though).

If the content isn’t interesting or engaging (or topical), people would
(a) not bother
(b) hate it
(c) spread the hate.

So, the content better be something that evokes a visceral, digitally recordable reaction (Like, Comment or Share). This helps the brand, through its content, remain in a positive, memorable frame of reference the next time users are making a purchase decision, and hopefully, will remember it enough to pick it, over its competitors.