When I was much younger I remember my dad met someone who worked for the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Amongst other questions, my dad had asked whether Mr Blair had an email address, which people could contact him on, knowing that Bill Clinton had his own which was open to the public. The person looked perplexed and replied: “Of course not, he’d get far too many emails!”
It seemed to us a ridiculous and strange response even then, before the time of social media and mass communication on the scale we’re used to now. Nowadays, if the mood takes us, anyone can let members of parliament know exactly what they think through Twitter, Facebook, email or any number of ways thanks to the Internet. As much as it might terrify these people or institutions to open themselves up to this kind of communication, it’s also vitally important that people feel that they are not untouchable. It’s also a fantastic tool for them to control their own story, to talk about, rather than just be talked about.
This has all come to me since I read an article about Apple’s latest appointment, Musa Tariq, the former global senior director of social media and community at Nike. All signs point to Apple embracing social media in the future. Having previously worked in Apple retail myself, I fully understand the secrecy and mystery that the company likes to create which has in a way, become a part of the brand. And yet, until now, Apple has been reluctant to join the world of social media for reasons other than marketing. Sales have clearly been fantastic without it but who knows what they could be? As time goes on, more and more rumour blogs for new products appear, quite often able to accurately predict both what will be the next launch and exactly when it will be. The air of mystery that was once there is fading and taking control of its own voice might just be a way for Apple to assert itself again.
At Tank, we all understand that social media is an essential tool for many of our clients to engage with the millions of people who are already out there. Sharing interesting content, discussing the brand values and striking up conversations is a fantastic way to make a business accessible to the public and to have a voice in the unfiltered mass of opinions and statements online.
Even the biggest company shouldn’t be afraid of opening itself up to the world. Be brave, use your voice wisely and get ready to talk to your customers. They’re already talking about you.