Monday, 20 August 2007

Are We Always One Tweet Of Separation From Apple?

I had an interesting brand experience today. It began when I phoned the shop where I'm buying a new 17" Apple MacBook Pro. I was disappointed to find out that the non-standard computer I had ordered two weeks ago had not yet been built as promised. Apparently it will take at least another week.

Naturally I was fairly disappointed with this turn of events, and vented a little on Twitter, as a lot of twitterers tend to do in these situations. It was then that I realised that out of my 260 odd Twitter followers, I wasn't aware of anyone who said that they worked at Apple. Considering that there are a few enthusiastic Microsoft Twitterers, this seemed fairly strange.

Somewhat provocatively, I decided to try and find someone, anyone from Apple via Twitter, to see if I could connect to them. I asked my existing Twitter friends if anyone knew someone from Apple on Twitter.

Within half an hour I received a notification that my twitter was being followed by a guy who then tweeted that he hoped he could help me. It turned out that he worked for Apple. A bad experience had eventually turned into a good one because someone from the company was prepared to engage with me. The mere fact that he was prepared to communicate with me in that way made me feel more positive towards the company.

He mentioned that many people from Apple are not actually allowed to "be Apple" on the internet; that is, they are not supposed to let a lot of people know they are Apple employees. Apple does of course monitor the web to see what people (and employees?) are saying about Apple, but it appears that they won't allow most employees to respond for various reasons.

What do you think about this? As far as social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Second Life etc) is concerned, do you think this is a good policy to have? In general, do you think that companies are missing the boat by not being fully engaged with social media, and with the millions of their customers using it?


tim buesing said...

Every company (and especially one that is so much in the limelight) should have a clear policy on social media and employees communicating. From your post, it is not quite clear if Apple employees are handed a well-drafted policy or if it is just a mumbled "don't tell anyone on the web you are working here" guideline. It is understandable if a company limits the amount of people to officially speak for the company "for various reason" (legal implications of service promises being one). As long as it becomes transparent to everyone why they channel the communication, I would reckon it is an acceptable way.

Greg Dwyer said...

I see the reasoning behind this especially for brands like Apple. Many of my larger digital clients have very clear and longwinded policies, some don't though and try and enforce some weird things like "change your personal facebook profile picture as it's a bad reflection on the company"(a very recent example) without any agreed policy - A word to company owners, if you want to control this - put it down on paper in front of your employees and get it signed off so you do have a leg to stand on. Retrospective legislation is a no-no and pisses people off in the real world. Trying to enforce a reactive unwritten policy will just put people offside and your talent will leave you. In my experience, this has been a policy for years at Apple - people who work there have been very discrete about what they do and who their employer is unless you REALLY NEED to know. We don't have a policy here, but as we grow it's not a maybe, it's a definite.