The Social Media Minute for January 21, 2011

Steve Jobs, Apple and Social Media Marketing

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced this week that he would be taking another medical leave of absence.

The announcement came earlier this week that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would be taking another medical leave of absence, and the stories are still rolling in regarding Jobs’ influence on the technology industry and what his company will do if he can’t return to his role at Apple.

I’ve interviewed Jobs on several occasions during my broadcast news career, all conducted between 1997 – the year he returned to the company he co-founded – and 2007’s introduction of the iPhone. The one thing I learned during that time is that there is no way to get Jobs off message; he talks about what he wants to talk about, and his legendary passion and enthusiasm add spark to his words. Tech observers have long noted that his expertise is in divining customer desires and in selling and marketing his company and its products. Steve Jobs knows what customers are looking for in tech devices long before they know what they are looking for.

So his impact isn’t just on designing stylish must-have gadgets, and forcing the music and movie industries to rethink the way they distribute their products. Jobs is also having a say in social media marketing – helping to build it out as a business – thanks to the popularity of iPhones, iPads, Mac computers in general and the iTunes platform.

I wanted more insight into this, so I asked Rick Chapman, publisher/managing editor of Softletter, a resource for software developers and publishers, and a longtime tech marketing specialist. In addition to hosting conferences and trade shows focusing on software as a service (SaaS), Chapman is the author of “In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters” and “The Product Marketing Handbook for Software.”

“What Apple is doing is creating devices that discard the old PC as centralized hub-devices, to a paradigm where gizmos are used to connect to, maintain, and transport a personal computing environment that exists independently of any single piece of hardware,” Chapman told me. “Social marketing both reinforces and takes advantage of this new model. Social marketing as epitomized by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can only exist in an internet-based environment that’s independent of any particular computing device and is available on a 24/7 basis.”

The strategies now being devised by social media marketing – mobile platforms, customer engagement, online video distribution – will use of those Apple devices somewhere in the mix, thanks to Steve Jobs’ vision. Like a lot of other fans and tech observers, I prefer not to think about that coming to an end anytime soon, focusing instead on hopes for a complete recovery. And soon.

Posted on January 21, 2011 in Front Page, Social Media Minute

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