When is Hype Too Much?

Apple debuted a touchscreen tablet computer yesterday, following months of building fervor and anticipation. By the time Steve Jobs took the stage at the iPad event, the rumor mill had hit a frenzied pitch and it was almost impossible to travel the Web without stumbling over counterfeits and alleged leaks.

Now, Apple’s hype machine is like a well-oiled Rube Goldberg. Steve Jobs is notorious for demanding secrecy and retaining a tight-gripped control of the company’s media presence. Announcements, timing and even “leaks” all fit into a finely engineered plan to excite consumers and the media — and in the last few years each announcement and event has been more exciting and more anticipated than the next.

So, it’s worth taking a look at Apple’s media strategy around the iPad in the last month to see if there are any lessons for marketers to take away.

Social media intelligence firm Sysmos has analyzed the online buzz around the Apple tablet device over the 30 days prior to the announcement. The results are a brand manager’s dream. There was tons of activity (almost 60,000 blog posts, about 520,000 tweets, more than 5,000 YouTube videos and close to 17,000 media articles!) and 81 percent of the mentions were favorable.

I’d be interested to hear what the figure is today following the post-launch pun-demonium. You know what I’m talking about. Yesterday the Interweb ran amuck with the humor of 13-year-old boys guffawing over the silly name. Remember that? Oh look! Paula just tweeted the sentiment analysis breakdown of tweets after the iPad unveiling. Looks like 38 percent of tweets were super positive and 21 percent were about the device’s unfortunate name.

Then there’s the analysis of how Apple managed expectations while simultaneously allowing the excitement boil over. Yes, Apple wants people to be psyched about their new product, but not to the point where overhype leads to disappointment. With Apple’s attention to detail, it’s hard to imagine that some of the major leaks weren’t sanctioned.

Take CEO of Maholo and tech blogger, Jason Calacanis, for example. On Twitter, Jason shared a number of the tablet’s features despite being signed to a non-disclosure agreement. It’s hard to believe that such a visible and prominent Web celebrity broke an NDA if facing the wrath of a Silicon Valley titan. [Then again, it’s Jason. Why wouldn’t he? –Susan]

So what is this crazy game of secret keeping and covert revealing? Why smart hype management, of course.

When is hype too much? Well, never, if you can manage expectations when excitement is high.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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One Reply to “When is Hype Too Much?”

Is the Apple buzz so great one could almost think of it as a cult? When I saw the intro video at Apple.com I really kind of felt like a zealot of some type was proselytizing. Should they be paying royalties to the people who did the iPad skit (I think it was Saturday night live, I heard about it on NPR today) about the new apple sanitary napkins about 6 or 7 years ago? After all they did come up with the name.


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