Corporate Eye

Apple Ranks as the Most Social Brand

social_mediaEach year, Virtue (a social media management company) creates a ranking of the most social brands by measuring online conversations about brands.  Whether those conversations offer positive or negative impressions of brands doesn’t matter.  Virtue’s methodology simply measures the online buzz about brands on social Web sites such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter regardless of the nature of the conversation.

The 2009 results of Virtue’s ranking of the most social brands is in, and Apple came out on top.  Apple is one of the most powerful relationship brands, so it’s not surprising that people talk about it across the social Web.  In fact, Apple’s iPhone brand took the ultimate top spot in the list of the most social brands, while Apple’s iTunes brand ranked 6th, and the Apple parent brand ranked 8th.  Interestingly, according to an article from Adweek, the only other companies to have multiple brands ranked in the top 20 of Virtue’s list were Sony (for both the parent brand and PlayStation) and Microsoft (for both the parent brand and Xbox).

While it’s important to remember that Virtue is not the only company to attempt to rank brands in terms of their online buzz and each company’s ultimate list is different from the next, it’s equally important to recognize the factors that are driving some brands toward the top of these lists.  For example, what makes the iPhone brand one that people like to talk about so much online?  One could argue that it’s connection to digital media gives it an upper-hand in terms of generating online conversation about the brand, but there’s more going on than a digital link.

Many of the top brands in Virtue’s ranking are entertainment and technology brands.  People like to talk about entertainment and technology, so it’s not surprising that these types of brands rank high.  What if your brand is not an entertainment or technology brand?  How do you compete?

The key is to not think of the social Web and your social media marketing strategy as a competition.  It’s a brand-building opportunity that can help you raise awareness of your brand and develop relationships with a broad audience, which can lead to brand trial and hopefully brand loyalty and advocacy.  Naturally, you need to be aware of what your competitors are doing in all areas of their marketing, including the social Web, but it’s most important to remember that one-size does not fit all when it comes to social media marketing.  In other words, don’t “market scared.”  Just because your competitors are pursuing a specific social media marketing tactic, doesn’t mean that tactic is right for you, your brand, your business, your products, or your customers.

Successful social media marketing comes from creating amazing content, building relationships, interacting with others, engaging them, and being human and personable.  You might not be able to compete with iPhone in terms of social brand rankings, but successful social media marketing is about quality (content, relationships, and so on), not quantity.

Your thoughts?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

This is most fascinating given Apple doesn’t much participate directly on any social media platform. This level of buzz is not from bought or owned channels but EARNED.

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