social media viewpointsNobody can pump up a new product launch quite like Apple. Take a semi-rabid fan base, a celebrity CEO and products that just sparkle, and you have all the makings of something big.

In its first month alone, the iPad had already racked up a million units sold. There’s so much online chatter about it, as of this writing a Google search on the name alone generates 107 million search results. The hype and the sales are soaring.

But what does this mean for social media and the way people use the Internet? Are there just a million new Apple toy owners out there or is this the beginning of a broader, more meaningful shift?

In short, this is a shift, or at least the early indicators of a shift.

Here’s what appears to be happening: the iPad has introduced a new category of media consumption. Whether it’s browsing a Facebook news feed, watching YouTube videos, checking in on TweetDeck, or reading a blog, the iPad is a content consumer’s dream device, and that’s a shift away from what we were using before.

A New Posture for Using the Internet

If you think about the way people have been engaging social media to this point, it’s been either on a computer or a mobile device. You were either leaning forward toward your laptop or desktop computer or hunching over a small mobile device. The iPad introduces another posture: leaning back. This may seem insignificant, but it’s not.

Because online engagement is increasingly integrated into everyday life, the iPad provides a more comfortable, engaging opportunity to do all of the things you want to do anyway. Why would I hunch over an iPhone to view a YouTube video when I can lean back and watch it on a device four times the size? Why would I lean forward to read a long blog post (like this one, for instance) when I could kick back and enjoy it with my feet in the air and a beverage in my hand?

If connectivity to the Internet is equal, the iPad provides a superior experience for consuming media and connecting with friends than a laptop or a mobile device. It’s the very reason people sheepishly admit, “I gotta get one of these” once they try an iPad for the first time. It’s a new experience that they didn’t know they wanted and now they want it.

Check out Apple engineers talking about the iPad

Heck, even your cat can use an iPad

5 Ways to Incorporate the iPad Into Your Strategy

If we’re seeing the early signs of a new way for people to engage the Internet and consume media, how do we as marketers take advantage of it? Here are five ways to incorporate the iPad into your social media strategy:

#1: Start Fresh With Apps

Although the iPad plays all iPhone apps, don’t assume that just because you developed an iPhone app that iPad users will like it. The iPad is an entirely different experience and you’re missing a chance that comes with a bigger touch surface if you don’t rethink your app strategy when you move to the iPad.  Beyond the sheer surface space difference also consider that the iPhone serves a different function than an iPad and renders some things unnecessary.

For instance, the Facebook app for the iPhone works perfectly on the iPad but you don’t really need it because you can just use the web browser in Facebook for a much richer experience. Developing iPad apps is going to require a good understanding of how people use the iPad. Remember this is “lean back” technology, not “hunch over” technology, so make sure there’s an app for that.

#2: Live in the Background

Later this year Apple will release an upgrade to the iPhone and iPad operating system that will allow multitasking. This means certain apps can keep running in the background while the user continues whatever he or she was doing already. What can your business create to run in the background on the iPad so you’re retaining users’ attention while they do something else? These background services may be sparse early on, so anyone who has something interesting when the new operating system rolls out will have an advantage.

#3: Keep Your Facebook Strategy Focused on Conversation

Facebook is a conversation tool first. If you’re not using it for that you’re probably experiencing some frustration with Facebook. If mobile device usage is any indication , people who use the iPad will be on Facebook more than the average Internet user. Focus on conversation that has value and you’ll win with Facebook both on the iPad and everywhere else.

#4: Don’t Be Scared of Text

Contrary to some commentators, blogs are not dead, especially with the iPad. One of the features of reading blogs or websites on the iPad is that you can zoom in on a section of text with a simple pinch of the fingers. That means even the oldest of eyes will be able to read text online because they can blow the words up as large as necessary. Reading on a large screen just became more portable and personalized. Now you just have to put something out there worth reading.

#5: Double Down on Video

Watching video on the iPad is wonderful. Some of the highest praise for the iPad is coming from people using it to watch video. Online video sites like YouTube and Vimeo are already converting videos to play on the iPad. By putting good video on either of those sites, you’ll be ensuring that your video will be available to this new video consumer base.

The iPad isn’t the only device in this new segment of “lean back” media consumption. Several other companies will roll out similar devices that will only broaden this new category. If your content and conversations aren’t worth leaning back to enjoy, you can count on an entirely new segment of people ignoring you altogether. If, however, you can earn attention by providing valuable content and conversation, there’s a new audience waiting for you.

What’s your experience with the iPad? Do you find you’re consuming more media on it than before? If you don’t have an iPad or other tablet computer, are you planning to get one? Why or why not?  Let us know your thoughts below.

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  • Thanks again for another outstanding article. Personally, I have been using both, social media sites and strategies and also the iPad for business purposes but I’ve never thought of a strategy to implement both in order to work to achieve the same goals. The tips you are giving in the article seem to be effective or at least worth trying.
    Keep up with the great job! I learn something new from you everyday!!!

  • Elisabeth_3ShipsMedia

    Very thought provoking article about incorporating the iPad into social media strategy! I definitely think it changes the way marketers and consumers will interact and engage, simply by providing another option for connecting digitally. I’m interested to see how the iPad distinguishes itself… and after reading your article, I’m wondering if it will be the external marketers’ use of the iPad that will set it apart as a unique form of technology!

    We wrote an article about the iPad’s place in the market as a response to Wired Magazine’s iPad app release yesterday- check it out! “Wired Magazine goes Digital on the iPad”


  • The interesting thing about the iPad is that it’s not just about how it’s integrated into your social “marketing”, but how it enables the socialization (for want of a better word) of your business. When these apps can plug into your business processes, your business data and your information repositories it will transform not just the way that you market, but the way that you manage the relationships beyond the four walls of your business. Makes for exciting times.

  • While I don’t disagree with many of the suggestions Bill makes, I’m not sure I agree 100% about the importance of the iPad. Is it truly a “game changer”? I know that personally, I already own a laptop and an iPhone — and I don’t see where the iPad would fit into my life. If I really need to get some work done and plan on carrying something larger than my phone, then I want the full feature set of my Macbook. If I don’t want to be weighed down with valuable, large and breakable objects, I’ll carry my phone with — still enough to check and reply to emails, update social networks, read the news, etc. I think for many users, the iPad may be a novelty purchase or take the place of similarly featured netbooks.

    That said, many of the tips here are still solid — taking advantage of upcoming multitasking on Apple mobile devices, focusing on interaction on Facebook, and good text and video content are key to a successful social media strategy.

  • Excellent post on the differences in approach necessary for the various devices. We have seen how the iPhone needed a new approach and now that is equally true for the iPad. I have noticed in my own use that these are key elements to improve the user experience. Multi-tasking will add another new dimension and increase the usability considerably.

    One industry that can benefit a lot from the iPad is the one I’m focused on – travel. This is the first portable device pre-destined to experience inspirational content like destination and resort videos, maps, photos and user generated content all presented in a visually attractive way. The challenge will be to find the right approach to make the most effective use of the device.

  • Mary,

    For some perspective, consider these news stories:

    Wired Magazine sells 24,000 subscriptions in first 24 hours on iPad:

    Or this one…
    Apple Deposes Microsoft to Become World’s Biggest Tech Company

    I think it will be huge…

  • Great comments here. Mary, I think the iPad carves out a new category that you don’t know you want until you have it. It’s kind of like when you moved from dial-up Internet access to broadband. You knew there were things you could do differently and/or better with the upgrade but once you experienced it you realized how you could never really go back.

    If your iPhone is the best “on the go” device and your Macbook is the best “get to work” device, I think we’ll continually find the iPad as the best “web for leisure” device. Once we get more of a taste of it we’ll recognize the shortcomings of the mobile phone and the laptop to accomplish what the tablet provides. As that realization increases there will more opportunities for marketers of every sort.

  • I have an iPAD, and it’s kind of like having a dishwasher – until you have one, you think you’re fine with what you have. To the point in the video, it exceeds expectation. The portability makes you much more likely to take it around, update social networks, all the things you don’t always have time for. And, like iPhone, it does not take Flash, so as marketers we can’t not develop for a non-flash world.

  • I’m intrigued by the “leanback” posture of the iPad and it makes total sense that as a result, your perspective and usability is altered. It’s the same as when you sit in a different part of a classroom for a day or change places at the dinner table – indeed the experience is different, more alive, even.

    Exciting times indeed – And, Gavin, enabling the ‘socialization’ of your business is a great way of putting it.

  • That was an insightful and interesting article. I never thought of the whole leaning forward and backward dilemma. I will use this for justification to put more content on YouTube. Thank you.

  • Good point Amy. The Flash vs. non-Flash debate will rage on so we should live in both worlds.

  • Anytime someone needs justification for more content on YouTube I’m for it! Just make sure it’s good stuff.

  • Thanks Julia.

  • Bill, this is smart. I don’t think people realize the possibilities when it comes to internet marketing and the iPad. It definitely increases opportunities when it comes to videos. Apps are a great way to get people involved with the brand too. I don’t think it’s VITAL that people do it, and I don’t think they should spend that much time on it because most target customers still don’t even HAVE an iPad but it doesn’t hurt to play around and see what you can come up with. I mean, look at Wired Magazine!

  • Thanks for the comment Briana. You’re right, most people don’t have an iPad. I think we’re seeing the very beginning of a shift in personal computing so this is the time to start getting our brains and our businesses around it.

  • I still don’t think this will sell as much as you think. If you have an i-phone and a mac, isn’t the i-pad a bit of overkill? As a marketer, I cannot substantiate the expense, and personally I don’t see the need

  • Great insight. There are similar game changers in the history of personal computing that altered our physical relationship with devices that also had their fair share of naysayers. The Macintosh and its mouse. The Kaypro 2000 laptop. I think in addition to your “leaning back” notion (a spot-on observation), which is a static activity, we have to add “walking around,” a dynamic activity. For example, an app that details every nook and cranny of the Gettysburg battlefield during your self-guided tour, complete with interactive maps, audio narration and videos. Think zoos, museums, college campus tours, golf courses, amusement parks, city walking tours, The London Tube system – any big space that you explore, navigate and learn.

  • Great point Rick. I’ve found that walking around with the iPad is the second most likely position of use at our house. Good insight and great examples of application!

  • Thanks for the comment. The early sales numbers seem to indicate that it’s taking off pretty well and I think it’s carving out a new type of computing that’s neither met with the iPhone or the Mac. Without intending to sound trite, it’s really something you have to experience to fully realize the implications.

  • Brett Wills

    I got the iPad shortly after it came out and was immediately impressed with how much content I was viewing, while watching TV. I’m Gen Y and being able to sit on my couch after work, catch up on news i’ve missed through my RSS feed, and watch TV without the bulkiness of a laptop on my lap, makes this device a dream come true.

    We tend to engage ourselves with an abundance of media at once. This is the greatest product for doing so.

    Great article. The lean back is precisely what makes it so great. Unless you’re typing…then it’s a hover and hunch method!

  • John Craig

    Ms. Cassidy, I am doing some research on iPads used for business purposes. Would you mind telling me how you use your iPads?

    John Craig

  • John Craig

    Rick, I think that is a good idea with the walking around tour idea. I did the Gettysburg audio tour, five years ago and with an iPad it would be awesome.

  • I have had my iPad for 2 days now (I’m based in the UK and they were on sale from Friday) and I absolutely love it. I never wanted to get an iPhone as I felt I didn’t need it, but I envisaged something between a laptop and a phone over 5 years ago thinking that’s exactly what I need as the founder of an about-to-go-global dating site where I need to have access on the go without taking my laptop everywhere.My only 2 gripes (well there has to be something!) is there there is no spam filter for Mail and no delete all option so if you get a whole load of Viagra ads you can’t delete them all in one go or filter them out.

  • Brett, very true…typing on the iPad’s keyboard is still a little more like hover and hunch than you want it to be. That’s one of the reasons why I think it won’t displace the laptop as a work device.

  • Mary, I’m using iPad for everything these days. I show my wedding photography portfolio on it, I edit & send contracts on it, I take down model release forms, I collect credit cards from clients…. And that’s just the business side of it. I do 70+% of my web browsing on it, I play video games exclusively on it ( no console or computer based games going), I read books on it, and it’s a matchless video player, as Netflix and YouTube users can tell you.

    And here’s the real kicker– iPad saves me about a ream of paper each month, between not having to carry blank contracts or, for my leisure time, not having to print out the Daily Racing Form and Thorograph sheets when I visit the racetrack!

    If you don’t see how you’ll use iPad yet, that’s normal. It’s only once you have one that you realize it can do far more than your phone, and go tons of places your laptop can’t.

    Before I got iPad, I was having to charge my iPhone by 5PM each day. Now I use it mainly for calls and on the go information gathering, and I do all my social media and web browsing on iPad, and I only have to put them both on the charger overnight only.

  • interesting article! I think the iPad will become a given for artists, designers, and photographers within a few years. most convenient way thus far to present a portfolio. I can’t wait until I can justify getting one! my only qualm is going through iTunes. I wish there was a way to connect and use as storage without using iTunes as a vehicle.

  • I’m not sure the iPad is introducing new postures. Plenty of people will be hunching over iPads, as well as leaning back with their desktops. Sure, the screen size is an upgrade from any smaller mobile device, and in that aspect I agree that there may be an early shift towards portable devices with larger screens. With that said, it will certainly take a long time to be adapted as a thing that’s as common as a cell phone. And still, half the people in the world with cell phones mostly want to use it as a phone, not to watch YouTube. If they had the money, they might want the extra functionality, but the majority of the population is not getting any richer. I also have to say that it’s a really great device for reading (including social media!); with the amount of control you have over how text is viewed. Devices like the Kindle can’t offer features like the pinch zoom, and it will be interesting to see which type of device becomes the dominant digital reading tool.

  • Thanks for the comment Kingsley. I agree, it will be interesting to see which tool becomes the dominant digital reading tool. It’s a battle that’s really just gotten started.

  • Brooke, you’ll be happy to know there are numerous app developers who are making a way to store data without going through iTunes. and Dropbox are a couple that come to mind immediately.

  • Sam

    Hi Ian,

    I visited your website…Great pictures!

    Thought you might want to know there’s a new App that actually provides inexpensive ways to make calls on the iPad, iPod Touch and the iPhone (local, long-distance to 75 countries and calling areas with the calling features).

    This App is great and it saves minutes because calls can be made without using typical plan minutes by making calls via Wi-Fi, hotspot, or 3G connection.

    Visit the App store, select the Globalinx App and be sure to use promo code: L401359 to sign up and save!

    I LOVE THIS NEW APP and I’m sure you will too 😉

  • Allison Bubert

    Good point Julia. For even more education on marketing using the internet and social media check out

  • I love reading on my iPad and leaning back to do it. You are correct about that. I never thought about it in that way! I also carry it around and prop it up – and still be productive, while being comfortable. It’s an amazing tool and I can’t imagine myself leaning back with a desktop or laptop creating mind maps and tasks lists or presentations 🙂

    Thanks for your unique perspective!


  • Thanks for the comment Gwen! Much appreciated.

  • Pjune

    It is a necessity as a marketer if you consider yourself on the cutting edge of technology in today’s market. From Social Media to Research, it is a must have tool and more than a toy. You should see clients eyes light up when your presentations jump to life be it in their office or the back of a cab. My laptop has now become my desktop. I have now owned my iPad for 14 days 😉

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