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The Social Anatomy of Apple's iPhone 5 Launch
Posted on September 21st 2012
Techies the world over were united last week for one of the most anticipated events of the year – Apple’s flagship product launch event. The subject of over two years’ worth of conjecture, debate and hyperbole – search results appear as far back as April 2010 – the iPhone 5 was always going to be a huge announcement and the buzzword on everyone’s lips for the weeks and months to come.
In social media monitoring specialists Synthesio's book ‘The Quick Start Guide To Social Media Monitoring’, brands are described as falling into four categories – The Boring Brand, The Functional Brand, The Vital Brand and The Exciting Brand. Apple falls under the Exciting Brand category, being a brand that generates high levels of online buzz and interactions naturally. World-renowned advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi describe these kinds of brands as ‘Lovemarks’.
I was interested to discover how real-life consumer discussions and reactions took shape globally in response to a product launch by an Exciting Brand or Lovemark – and what bigger brand or launch than the latest Apple event!
I set up search queries on a Synthesio dashboard that monitored all mentions of ‘iPhone 5’ when combined with words such as ‘launch’, ‘announcement’ and ‘unveiling’, across over 100 countries and in multiple languages. I also looked for mentions of ‘iPhone 5’ alongside four key aspects – features, design, software and networks – and key Apple staff.
A key discovery made on the day of the event was the contest for mentions alongside the iPhone 5, between the late Steve Jobs and the current Apple CEO Tim Cook. On the day of the launch the lead was exchanged several times, with both men racking up mentions in the thousands. However Jobs just pips Tim Cook for the highest number of mentions alongside the iPhone 5; with a mere 543 more mentions a week after the launch, it’s a photo finish. Jobs was always the charismatic human face of Apple – an integral part of fans’ relationship with the company, and garnering somewhat a cult of personality; this is illustrated by the data over the last week.
Considering that Apple’s product launch events are amongst the biggest corporate PR activities in the world, it is to be expected that mainstream news coverage and mentions of the iPhone 5 will be widespread. However, data showed that social conversations specifically discussing the launch outstripped news mentions by over 90%; a clear indicator of the effect Apple has on consumers on a social level. Whilst Twitter, a transient medium, was the largest source of content in terms of volume as expected, the next two largest sources were forums and blogs, which will leave a lasting online footprint.
Perhaps most interesting was the variation of conversation across different countries. Obviously the US and the UK were the top countries talking about the iPhone 5 launch; the five following them were France, India, Canada, Germany and Brazil. Amongst those latter five, the data revealed that the theme of the top conversations was different in each. The French talked most about the iOS software, whilst in India, consumers focused on the product features. In Canada, the issue of iPhone 5 phone networks took the spotlight whereas in Germany and Brazil, the design of the iPhone was most discussed.
The fact that Apple can provoke such varied discussion on a global level and inspire near equal numbers of conversations about their ubiquitous late CEO as well as their current CEO, is tantamount to their being an Exciting Brand or Lovemark.
What interesting social data did you discover from the iPhone 5 launch? Share it in the comments below!
(Note - I'm UK Marketing/Community Manager for Synthesio)