What Higher Education Can Learn From Apple

Captivating video and hidden tweets.

September 20, 2016
Using Apple commercial as a good example for higher education marketing

Two weeks ago Apple launched their latest round of "must have" products. Now, before you start getting all critical on me for an Apple post, please relax. This post isn't really a pro-Apple piece*. Besides, Joshua Kim already did that...sort of.

This post is about how Apple has created a captivating commercial that can serve as a template for future higher education marketing videos. And, I'm also going to mention a nifty Twitter move that Apple used to create some hype for the launch.

Apple launch gif

While it's listed as being 107 seconds in length, the total run time of this Apple ad is 118 seconds. Coming in at almost two minutes, this video was made for both mobile social media and the big screen.

If you're watching it via YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter on your phone, you don't need to have your audio on. In keeping with the current mobile video style of storytelling via text overlay, Apple lets you know everything about their new products in this crisply edited clip.

Seriously, the pacing on this video is so fast and yet it doesn't seem to be too fast. Plus, the typography (probably Helvetica Neue) in the video is masterfully done.

Apple launch gif

The Apple launch video isn't perfect. Without a voiceover, it's basically useless for people who can't see.

As with any video that comes from a university, accessibility matters. It should matter to companies like Apple too, but for now, I'll be happy for all university videos to include accessible content.

If you want to make a more accessible video for your institution that is similar to Apple's commercial I would recommend either adding the script for the video in the description or including a voiceover. However, due to the quick cut nature of this type of video, a voiceover might not actually be an option.

Apple launch gif

Whether or not Apple reprises this style of video in their next ad doesn't really matter. They set a new bar for mobile social video. It will be interesting to see if universities borrow inspirational cues from the launch ad. Will we see an influx of quick cut, text-focused marketing videos from universities in the near future?

While this style will not work for everything, it's definitely compelling as a way of telling a story in a short amount of time for a mobile-ready audience.

Apple has been on Twitter since September 2011. During that time they have amassed more than 588,000 followers. However, Apple doesn't tweet. If you look at their account it shows that "@Apple hasn't tweeted yet." Technically, that's not completely true as there are tweets from Apple that exist in the Twittersphere. You just can't find them as they are not normal tweets.

Promoted tweets can exist on Twitter without showing up on a users timeline. Essentially, you "target" a bunch of users in a promotional campaign and then they are the only ones who see these "dark" tweets.

Apple's launch tweet for their September 7th event was definitely a dark tweet and it was also the first ever tweet from a brand that's been quite savvy with their marketing efforts.

It's interesting to see how successful these dark tweets have been for Apple. They are receiving a ridiculous amount of attention and engagement in some cases just because they did something different.

I wonder how many universities have used this hidden tweet method to target prospective students, alumni, media, etc? It's probably a tactic that will lose its novelty fairly soon as everyone starts to mimic Apple, but for now, it's a relatively fresh way of connecting with targeted Twitter users and generating a buzz that you're "thinking differently."

*Full disclosure: I have an iPad that I bought in 2012, an iPhone 5 that seems mostly immune to planned obsolescence, and a 15 inch MacBook Pro that I can't wait to replace with a newly updated 13 inch MacBook Pro that is currently as-yet-unreleased. Okay, I'm obviously an Apple person. However, it's still a neat video that they made and their use of "sneaky" tweets was fascinating...


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