Unless you’re already a big player in the game of social media, stealing market share is a David/Goliath level task with a glaring shortage of rocks. myApollo is a brand trying to prove this thought wrong.
The platform seems interesting from a functionality perspective but their marketing execution is baffling in a 90’s tech bubble kind of way. If you’re a Torontonian you may have seen the fairly bland red ads around town. If you’ve already forgotten what it looks like or don’t live in the area, here’s a visual.
Simplicity can be impactful when done right – when the creative design and message are synced up and working together. Unfortunately that is not the case when it comes to myApollo’s strange decision to brand themselves as ‘Your next social network.’ Half brash assumptive statement, half first-year marketing student mistake, this phrasing combined with 2004 corporate styling is pathetically cliché.
The phrasing itself is the big problem. Why does anyone need a next social network? Who is your target audience? To answer this question, BlogTO asked co-founder Harvey Medcalf exactly that second question, this is the response:
“We don’t have a specific target user as everyone can use our app.
That being said we are focusing first on a younger audience and have numerous Frosh week marketing events in the works to mark our launch.”
To paraphrase “We don’t know but maybe students”. It’s difficult enough to launch a well-planned and defined product to a massively saturated market like social media, it’s unnerving to think that this young upstart still hasn’t even defined a target user. It becomes almost as distressing to realize that their whole marketing campaign is based on the delusional thought that people are clamoring for something new when the existing, albeit somewhat broken, realm of social media tools is completely functional.
The problem thickens from a marketing perspective and from a product perspective when you consider timing. The first round of ads were released in July, as of September 17 there still isn’t a usable product. In a way, it feels like the launch of another group buying website but without even the promise of a future product or a simple hint at what it actually does.
To get anybody invested in a brand is difficult to begin; creating interest in a new brand is even more difficult and when your brand is based on a product that doesn’t yet exist and no consumers can read about, your potential market share has already passed by.
Unless you’re applying your new social platform to a specific target market and growing it from there as other demographics find it useful, there won’t be much success short of being sliced bread. This is not sliced bread, it’s a campaign without direction and grasping at late 90’s internet bubble era slogans. “Your next social network is here” might have impressed uneducated investors 15 years ago and, even though Dell has signed on financially to this project, it isn’t impressive or catching enough for the average user to care about.
What They Should Have Done
We’re still in the age of niche and probably will be for a number of years. If you’re trying to push a social network, brandishing swords and claiming you’re hot shit won’t do it – you need to create traction in a specific market and grow it from there.
Instead of trying to attract an undefined and overly large market to begin with, focusing on specific markets like developers, engineers or specifically students would help create an inclusiveness that ported over to conversations within and outside their respective industries instead of shotgun blasting a vague ‘everybody’ across the branding. Networking applications are nothing new in professional settings but some of them are so paltry and user unfriendly that if myApollo’s claims of having an “amazing data distribution system” are true, they should be actively pursuing corporate interests before mass markets to test user functionality and figure out what they can successfully promote to a wider user base.
Another aspect to consider is pure marketing. Out-of-home can be a powerful method of delivery for a start-up, especially in the tech industry where it isn’t used as often as other mediums but can be done with innovation. At best this marketing campaign is edgy for the late 90’s, at worst it’s so cliched that all but the most interested adopters will be turned off from the obvious lack of creativity.
While the team does seem ambitious, their lack of direction in business and marketing won’t lend them a hand when their investors come asking for results. Don’t tell people you’re the next big thing when you can’t even define what that thing is.