There are certain accepted rules in content marketing.

It’s surprising then that Apple, one of the largest companies in the world, has continuously broken these ‘content marketing commandments’. But the company still manages to achieve unprecedented success in the history of telecoms.

Apple doesn’t use standard Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, or indeed have a blog.

On the other hand, Apple’s arch-rival Samsung makes use of all major social-media platforms, celebrity endorsements, and any number of other Good Marketing Strategies.

So which of the Apple and Samsung approaches works best?

Apple breaks the rules

Most of you will probably remember Apple’s ‘Your Verse’ campaign which launched in 2014 and formed the focal point of much of the company’s iPad marketing efforts for quite some time thereafter.

Central to the campaign was the original ad which features ‘real people’ getting on with life and demonstrating how the iPad fits into and enhances their everyday experience.

For Apple, it was a significant step into consumer storytelling, in which it attempted to minimise the negative associations of globally mass-produced products and show that each product has significance to individuals.

Each of us has something to share. A voice, a passion, a perspective. - Highlight to share -

This intent is encapsulated very effectively in the campaign’s ‘pitch’ which often appeared alongside the content.

‘Each of us has something to share. A voice, a passion, a perspective. The potential to add a stanza to the world’s story. We were so inspired by how people use iPad every day, we set out to capture a few of these moments.’

As a company, it passed the ownership of the product to the people that used it and this sat very naturally within its existing ‘non-standard’ means of content marketing. it gave users the opportunity to discover the content organically on YouTube, or on the Apple site, rather than having it forced upon them by a company-operated Twitter or Facebook account.

It was a strong message, and a bold move on the part of Apple, but ultimately it resonated with consumers and went on to spawn many more user-focused videos and content demonstrating the iPad’s seamless incorporation into everyday life.

Samsung sticks to the rules

Samsung usually sculpts its marketing campaigns around the same sentiment, but takes a much more integrated approach to promotion, aiming for saturation rather than organic discovery.

There are many examples of this to choose from, but perhaps the one which illustrates the concept best is its ‘Over to You’ initiative. Samsung sent out Galaxy S4 handsets to owners of key influential blogs and video-sharing accounts, challenging them to create content about it, and indeed with it.

The idea was built on the same premise as Ford’s now well-discussed #FiestaMovement campaign. By placing its products in the hands of major market influencers, it encouraged as much ‘organic’ coverage as possible across the widest range of social-media channels and formats.

You should never automatically go for the one-size-fits-all tactic. - Highlight to share -

In effect, Samsung turned its users into mini publicity powerhouses, allowing a significant proportion of the marketing to be completed out-of-house, and simultaneously passing ownership of the products over to the user.

It was in the initial launch and delivery of the campaign that Samsung’s tactics for online content marketing most differed from that of Apple; it aimed for full-on saturation of the online social media spaces.

Was it a success? Of course it was. Users delighted in being placed at the centre of attention, and would-be users bought into the individual lifestyle representations which were created through the user storytelling.

So which giant was triumphant?

Apple’s approach to its ‘Your Verse’ campaign required the most bravery, yet Samsung is to be applauded for being on-point and innovative with its user-generated content initiative.

Both strategies were highly effective, but the lesson to be learned from these very different approaches is that you should never automatically go for the one-size-fits-all tactic.

The key to both Apple and Samsung’s strategies is that it sets the consumer, and not the products themselves, as the ultimate focus of the content and marketing. And guess who’s buying?

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The battle of Apple and Samsung