Apple genius? + learning from Reddit AMAs + LMTD likes

Welcome to The Watercooler, issue 57.

LMTD has picked out some of the most interesting digital and social media stories making waves around the web this week, to keep you up-to-date with developments in the world’s most exciting and fastest-growing industry. Something else you’d like to see?

Let us know at news@teamlmtd.com.

Apple: revolutionary, or just a big name?

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Gadget fans eagerly awaiting Apple’s announcement-filled event this week were not disappointed. Or some of them were. But most of them were happy. Sort of.

Alongside the hotly-anticipated new iPhone, the tech giants also unveiled the Apple Pencil — exciting a slightly less reverential reaction.  Not considering its blatant ridiculousness (particularly since one Steve Jobs talked about how much he hated the stylus some years ago), the product has a whiff of the familiar about it….and that’s because someone already came up with the idea. They just weren’t Apple.

In fact, a few of the products to come to light this week have already existed in one form or another — take a look at this gallery from Wired for a quick rundown.

So Apple didn’t invent anything new. Is that anything new? The company’s business model, according to Wired, focuses more on adding value; that is, taking ‘existing ideas and [refining] them into consumer-friendly products’. If that’s the case, should we consider Apple a market leader, or does it simply market its wares more effectively than the competition?

Well, it’s a little of both. There’s no way Apple could have infiltrated our lives quite as much as it has done without a pretty solid product offering, but having positioning itself so successfully as the world’s electronics guru that almost doesn’t matter. At this stage, people are buying Apple because Apple. Even if their products differ only slightly from what’s already out there, people believe the Apple offering will be better.

And there’s the lesson for savvy social marketers out there: belief is a powerful thing. If you can convince your audience that your brand knows what it’s talking about — and that no one else in the field knows as much as you — shifting products will never be an issue.

The Apple Pencil is stupid. But the next edition of The Watercooler will probably be written with one.

What can we learn from Reddit AMAs?

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The subreddit r/iAMA has around 8.4 million subscribers, all keen to ask new and exciting questions of interesting people, celebrities and interesting celebrities. With such a large, engaged audience, it’s obvious that the format is delivering something pretty valuable…so what can we learn from it? Is it just the big names that attract the attention? Or is there another key to its success?

Take a look at this infographic from Adweek, which runs through some of the big reasons AMAs prove so popular. Of course, not everyone can take requests on what products / services they should produce (like Reddit does for who should be the next AMA subject), but there are still some incredibly useful takeaways for your next content calendar.

Our top picks include:

– Extreme honesty / sincerity: it’s easier for people to be (or sound) honest or sincere than it is for brands. Your audience automatically distrusts you; you’re selling something, and you’re likely to do everything in your power to make sure that sale goes through. But one easy step in particular can make the difference between an engaged fan and a snarky Twitter comment. When something goes wrong, admit it — and tell everyone how you are going to fix it.

– Information from experts: It isn’t just celebrities that attract a big audience on Reddit. People are interested to hear from experts in any field, providing they are engaging enough. So find some. Bringing in an expert on your product or in your sector could be an entertaining way to package dry information, and they may pick up some fans themselves along the way.

– Continuing community engagement: As we’ve said many times before, social isn’t a one-way street for communication. Some of the most popular AMA-ers have returned more than once, or have engaged directly with the audience they reached through Reddit, and they’re reaping the rewards. Don’t just fire-and-forget…no one else if going to build your audience for you!

LMTD likes

This week, LMTD Editor Iain McDonald tells us talks about YouTube‘s educational videos, and how they can be a great way to pass the time (and even learn something).

Factoids, factoids, factoids! I love them (sorry, Ray Bradbury). And as far as sources of contextless information go, you can’t beat the internet. That’s why I’m frequently found on channels like Mental Floss, CGP Grey, and Crash Course

And it’s not all just quiz night fodder or videos Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t understand. There’s a range of tutorial channels that can teach you anything from how ties are supposed to be tied to how to master Stairway to Heavenor fix your carburettor. The market for internet self-improvement has even given rise to services like Grovo, which provides videos to help businesses educate their staff, and therefore improve productivity. Who says the internet is just full of cats?

I can’t promise it’ll improve your productivity, but take a look above for a recent offering from Mental Floss, ‘Misconceptions about Social Media’.

#ICYMI

Everything Apple announced this week

Instagram ads go global

Facebook is way past your friends

How the redesign shrank the size of Google’s logo

Meet your new iOS 9.1 emoji

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