From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:
Apparently, Apple has talked with Twitter about investing several hundred million dollars into the company. Depending on whether you accept the New York Times’ version or the later Wall Street Journal’s version, Apple discussed the investment in recent months or last year, though there are no talks currently. (A little bird must have told them.)
Either way, I don’t quite get it. Yes, I see that Apple CEO Tim Cook said recently, “Does Apple need to be social? Yes.” But I don’t understand why. Why does a company that seems to do no wrong–or, when it does, nobody cares–need to be social in any way, shape, or form?
Apple makes great products, of course, but it’s also known for its masterful marketing. And the essence of that marketing is not about trying to spur people to talk about their products, at least not directly. No, it’s about trying to maintain absolute secrecy to promote a mystique about the next model of the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac.
Then people feel empowered, if sometimes to Apple’s annoyance, to talk their fool heads off. That builds so much buzz that, as we know so well by now, almost any new product has people camping overnight in front of Apple stores to be among the first to buy it. Anything that companies do on Facebook or Twitter to promote buzz looks positively lame next to this.
Oh, I know about the failure of its one attempt at a social product, Ping, the social network around music. And that failure made precisely zero difference in how well Apple’s business is doing. Zero.
As far as I can tell, Apple–or, what matters more, its customer base–is already plenty social by any definition that’s useful to Apple. It’s not just “let’s poke” and “let’s tweet.” Apple customers love their company, and they find every last opportunity they can to tell the world about their undying love. They also pile on and beat to a virtual pulp anyone who dares to suggest that any of Apple’s products are not utterly perfect. If companies on Facebook have fans, Apple has the originals: fanatics. …