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?