Without fail, there is always some sort of malfunction with my iPhone. I’ve had the home button stop working, the power button get stuck, the “+” volume button fail, the home button come loose and start spinning, and a random streak of rainbow colors that ran vertically through the entire screen of my phone. And all of this is from someone who is extremely (almost neurotically) careful with their phone.
So what happens every time I have a problem with my iPhone? Well, I go online and book an appointment so that a Genius the Apple store can help me.
(The Genius Bar is never this empty at my mall, so an appointment is always necessary.)
As I drive to my nearest Apple store, I pray that they can help me and that my trip to the mall is worth it.
However, this experience may be significantly changed now that Apple has finally joined Twitter. On March 3rd, Apple revealed their new Twitter account, @AppleSupport. With this account Apple is able to post tips and tutorials as well as respond to tech questions. According to an article by Business Insider, this account generated over 121,000 followers and tweeted more than 2,200 times to Apple customers with instructions on how they could solve their problems all within the first 24 hours. This Apple Support is available for 15 hours a day and was therefore able to respond to between 2 and 3 tweets per minute.
Prior to this introduction, Apple users were able to seek this kind of support in person at an Apple retail store, over the phone or in an online chat with Apple Support, or in an online Apple Support Community. While going to the Apple store has the benefit of being able to interact with someone in person and have your device fixed there, this involves traveling and has a degree of uncertainty because it is not always true that they can help you (especially for the price you’re willing to pay). Over the phone and online, you can chat with representatives who can direct you either to the store or to a simple at home solution. Unfortunately, these options can have a significant lag time because of busy phone lines or less knowledgeable employees than the ones in the retail stores. Online Apple Support Communities have the added benefit that you can search through questions that other users have asked and solve your problems based on the advice that was previously shared. You can also explore different “communities” that pertain to solving problems for the various Apple products and services. The problem with this is that the information on these pages is limited and provides more of a “one size fits all” type of solution. Now that Apple Support is on Twitter, people have another place to turn to for real-time customer service.
So why did Apple not join Twitter sooner? Roughly a year ago, Google had 8 million followers, Microsoft had 4 million, and Apple had only 26,000.
This Apple account, @Apple, has never tweeted, followed anyone, or had a bio or image associated with it. This inactive account either does not belong to Apple or was taken over by Apple simply so that someone else would not have the rights to this username.
Apple did however have other official niche accounts prior to @AppleSupport. These include @iTunesMusic, @AppStore, and @iTunesTrailers. Together these various accounts had a combined 2.5 million followers in 2014, and Apple CEO Tim Cook has generated nearly the same amount of followers on his own personal Twitter account. Nonetheless there has been an overall lack of a unified social media voice for Apple.
How can it be that a multinational tech company as well established as Apple did not start to embrace Twitter until now? While Apple has not provided any specific reasons for this, we can speculate on why the company is so social media shy in general. The first explanation would be that Apple likes to maintain very tight control over what is released to the public and what people are saying in response. Apple does not have an official Facebook page and while they do have a Youtube account with over 3 million subscribers, they have disabled the commenting feature. Another hypothesized reason for this hesitancy is that Apple may not have much of real interest to tweet. It is a concern that if they tweet about their new product introductions, the market could see this as Apple succumbing to market pressures. There is also no chance that Apple is looking to answer questions about their “notoriously secretive earnings call” or run promotional tweets. After all, Apple prides itself on providing a premium experience and if they do start running the @Apple account, some may begin to wonder if Apple is having trouble selling its products or if they have lost their cool and hip image.
To me it seems as though Apple will be able to negate some of these concerns since they have created an account on Twitter simply designated towards answering technology questions. Apple received a warm welcome from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as well as from its users. Customers like me now have the potential to take away some of the lag time and uncertainty involved in getting tech support and Apple can potentially increase its customer satisfaction.
Do you think you’ll be taking advantage of this in the future?