3 B2B Social Media Lessons from Apple’s iPhone5 Launch

Apple’s iPhone5 launch was covered in depth by the online tech sites and major news outlets, as well as everyone else on social media. Whether you think this is a gotta-have release, a nominal upgrade or a “my phone already has those features,” you can find plenty of agreement across the web. What can B2B marketers learn from the release of this sixth generation product that is responsible for nearly two-thirds of Apple’s profits.

1. Advocates can be your social media presence

Apple is the largest US company by market value, and yet they have no social media presence to speak of. But they manage to dominate the conversations on the social web, especially when they have a new product launch. Even the speculation leading up to it creates a certain amount of dominance. And this is because their customers are passionate about their products. They want to share what they know and they always want to know more.

This kind of advocacy is rare in B2B, but what if you focus some of your social media efforts on creating outstanding products that customers will love. This is the first step to building the kind of advocacy that starts social conversations.

2. Tightly controlled message is no longer possible

Apple has always kept a tight lid not just on their product specifications, but even the announcements themselves. Yes, last week’s announcement was certainly about the new iPhone, but that didn’t come from Apple. The control model of keeping everything a secret until the announcement is just no longer possible. There are too many publishers of content on the web that looking for that scoop so they can gain eyeballs and social media shares. Apple manages their supply chain so that products are delivered shortly after the announcement, and as the product numbers have grown, there are too many links in that chain where details can leak out. A huge order of larger screens doesn’t go unnoticed. And don’t forget that new connector.

So as you plan product announcements or other public activities, be aware that secrecy just may not be possible. This is a great opportunity to work with a customer council, or some preferred partners, to slowly share information on the social web before a big announcement. Use selected details to generate awareness for the announcement.

3. Make it about your customers, not your solutions

Some of the negative reactions to the Apple announcement had to do with the presentation and the disappointment that Tim Cook is not the dynamic CEO and speaker that Steve Jobs was. One writer even went so far as to say that he missed Apple’s reality distortion field. This was a characteristic of Steve Jobs where his statements were so convincing, that reality was unimportant. Apple product launches always had a bit of that sense. But the article goes further and mentions that the iPhone launch moved so far away from that when the Apple ecosystem (hardware, software, marketplace) was called a solution.

So let’s forget that we are talking about a consumer company and make sure we’re talking about the customers. They don’t care about our solutions. They want to know how we are solving their problems. This is truer than ever in social media because we need our customers and prospects to share our blog posts, ebooks, videos and webinars. They won’t do that if we talk about our solutions.

Are there other lessons for your B2B company that you took away from the launch of what could be the biggest consumer electronics product ever?

4 Ways the New Apple iPhone Can Benefit B2B Marketers

Even though many B2B companies, especially corporate and enterprise level companies, prefer Blackberries as their smart phone of choice, if you are in the social media space, a new iPhone is still news and you wonder if this is the time to make the switch. Each generation of iPhone improves its corporate compatibility, and this one is no exception. The new iPhone 4 supports Exchange Server 2010. It also has improved data protection, device management, and VPN support, all things that could make a corporate IT manager more comfortable with the device. But the real question is why do you, a B2B marketer and the person responsible for implementing social media in your company need one. Here are four new features that might convince you:

Facetime Video Conferencing
This is the feature that everyone is talking about on the new iPhone4 and mobile video conferencing, called Facetime, even though it’s just over wifi, is a great feature. Also both parties need the iPhone 4 for this work. Video call your office from a client site and don’t just talk, but show your face. Switch to the back camera and show your product engineer how the client is using your product and the service issues they are experiencing. Share printed documents or photos in real time while you talk about them. And communicating with your office with your face, and not just your voice, is a stronger way to get your message across.

Mobile Video Editing
Another benefit of the iPhone 4 is the continued expansion of mobile video. Not only are the quality and features of video better than the previous generation of iPhone, but it includes a mobile version of iMovie, Apple’s easy to use video editing software. Now those short trade show videos and customer testimonials can be edited and uploaded before you even return to the office.

Better Organization
Rather than a random display of apps (or chronological or alphabetical), the new iPhone 4 allows you to organize apps in folders. These can be organized by topic, or can be customized. You can put your business or productivity apps together and keep your games or other leisure apps in another folder. You can also keep all your social media tools together for easy access.

This is one of those updates that is a long time coming in the operating system, but helpful for the marketer on the go. Switch between tasks easily and the apps remember your place, whether it’s viewing documents while writing emails, or checking your CRM system, while updating Twitter and listening to your favorite station on Pandora.

What are the features of the new iPhone 4 that would make you consider getting one?

5 Ways Apple’s iPad Will Impact B2B Marketing

Before you come through the computer and smack me, yes, I am adding to the endless amount of blog posts all dedicated to Apple’s newly released iPad. With this tablet device Apple is trying to create a new category of portable computing device. How will this device impact your planning as a B2B marketer?

Initially this device won’t be a major factor to B2B marketers, because even if it is very successful, it will take 6 to 12 months to have enough devices in use to warrant attention. The device, which won’t even be out for a couple of months, offers users the ability to consum all types of media on the go using a software interface that many people are accustomed to due to their use of iPhones and iPod touches. Starting this summer B2B marketers need to begin looking at their web analytics to determine how many people visiting online sites are using this device, as well as the iPhone.

5 Potential Impacts Of The iPad On B2B Marketing
New device and adoption aside, in the future this device, or one similar, could have several important impacts on digital B2B marketing. Now is the time to think ahead and position for these possible changes in your business.

1. Improve Product Demos
– The iPad will likely be most utilized in the business world for demonstrations. If you are a B2B company, especially a software company, this will be a great device to show off products and demonstrate new features. The iPad’s ability to display keynote presentations will also make it easy to shift from up-close demos or product sheets to slide presentations. I could see sales teams using this type of device to go over pricing and calculating business impacts of a product in real-time.

2. Trade Show Info Capture – Speaking of sale people, I would imagine that we will see iPads in the hands of savvy B2B sales people at a variety of industry tradeshows. A device like this removes the need to get people into a booth and have them in front of a computer to get their contact information into a CRM tool. I can see companies developing internal applications for the iPad that can easily add people into remote CRM systems and enter them into giveaway contests at the booth.

3. Less Flash Ads – An issue that some people have about this device is that it does not support Adobe Flash, a software that enables us to view many of the videos and advertisements on the web today. If devices without Flash like the iPad increase in popularity, it could motivate B2B marketers to produce less flash advertising, as it would be invisible to iPad and iPhone users.

4. More Multimedia Content – Regardless of its success, the iPad reinforces a trend that shows the way people consume media is changing. People are becoming more accustomed to a multimedia experience. For example the New York Times on the iPad includes video clips in articles that are viewed on the device. As B2B marketers strive to remain effective story tellers, becoming multimedia focused will be key.

5. Need For Customized Customer Experiences – With this new category of device, Apple has create yet another user experience to go along with the iPhone and traditional personal computers. The ways in which people interact with information on this type of device is different. Subsequently, B2B marketers need to plan digital experiences that are different for each device.

Cool new gadgets don’t replace boring online content. Take time to ensure you are telling a compelling story online now, because as digital information consumption changes, so will your marketing executions.

What do you think about the role of tablet computers in B2B companies?