Tips From Tai Tran, Apple’s Social Media Prodigy



When it comes to marketing, Apple knows what they’re doing.

Earlier this year, the tech giant launched what Business Insider deems “its first major customer service social media account, @AppleSupport.” If it seems to you that Apple’s a little late on the social media game, you’re not wrong. While they’ve got a pretty robust online support service and customer service tutorials, other companies like Microsoft’s Xbox Support accounts have been on Twitter since 2009, and are renowned for their fast response times. As a company, though, Apple does not have an overall Facebook page and the @apple handle on Twitter is dormant.

It’s unusual, if not slightly bizarre, for a tech company to essentially skip one of the biggest trends in tech: social media. And, as the massive success of @AppleSupport has shown, the Apple audience craves that real-time response and interaction with the brand. So far, the Twitter account has 288k followers. Not bad for a specifically customer support-centric account that’s only been tweeting for a few months.

In characteristic going-against-the-grain Apple style, they don’t have a massive social media team running the account. Instead, they have a 22-year old: Tai Tran is the digital marketing program manager, currently running Apple’s social media while teaching two classes to undergraduates at UC Berkeley—you know, as your average 22-year old does. According to AppleInsider, Tran interned at marketing firm Prezi as well as Flextronic and Samsung, and says that he is “bringing the power of social and data to Apple.”

The position is all so weird and vague, which is genius for publicity (nice work, @Apple). I was curious to find out more about how the young wunderkind does it, so I did a little digging to see what I could find about his social media strategies. Tran has a complete slide deck from one of his courses up online, if you’re interested, but here are several of the strategic tips from the 22-year old taking a traditionally non-social brand online.


  1. In his Marketing Thought Leadership course (in which late assignments are NOT accepted and there’s a pretty strict name plaque policy, by the way), Tran notes that social media is about more than just revenue generation, but it’s about CRM: Customer Relationship Management. CRM is probably a familiar term to many people who work in media, but Tran emphasizes the importance of the major platforms in order to maximize your resources (time, money, people), and ranks platforms in order of priority for crafting customer relationships and achieving objectives: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are high priority, YouTube is medium priority, and Instagram and Snapchat are only to be used for niche audiences.
  2. As a Marketer, use LinkedIn. Tran is a major advocate for LinkedIn for several reasons. He notes that it’s invaluable to build credibility and a strong reputation, because skill endorsements are essentially designed to strengthen credibility. If you’re on LinkedIn, the golden number of connections is 500+ and the golden number of skill endorsements is 99+.
  3. Target Millennials: As I found by doing a little Internet mining, Tran used to write a column called Social Millennial Today for Social Media Today, in which he covered the most effective ways to reach millennials. It will be interesting to see if any of these strategies come into play with his work at Apple. Can he urge the tech-shy behemoth onto Snapchat? Tran says that contrary to popular belief, millennials are okay with consuming branded content, but that they only want content that isn’t too sales-y: “To avoid this pitfall, a content strategy should be developed with a storytelling narrative. Contrary to popular beliefs, millennials do enjoy consuming branded content. However, such content must be relevant with a storytelling narrative. This involves factors such as authenticity, humor, and timeliness.” You can read the rest of Tran’s Social Millennial Today columns here.

We’ll be interested to see where Tran takes Apple’s social media, and the ways in which the already massively-popular company uses their platforms to build customer relationships.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Digital Ralph

About the author: Maggie Happe

Maggie Happe is a recent graduate of Creighton University and a contributor to Social Media Contractors.

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