New Apple hire suggests upcoming shift in social media marketing strategy

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In what could foreshadow a shift in Apple's social media strategy, the company this month hired Tai Tran, a digital marketing specialist and former intern who worked on the Beats by Dre social response Twitter feed.

According to his LinkedIn profile, before being scooped up Tran was an intern at Apple from May to September this year, during which time he helped shape Beats by Dre's social presence with the launch of instructional product videos posted to Twitter.

Tran, who is now a Digital Marketing Program Manager, frames the support channel as the company's "first proactive customer care content strategy." This particular flavor of Twitter-based customer outreach is largely uncharted territory for a conservative brand like Apple, making its involvement all the more unusual.

Traditionally, Apple prefers not to heavily engage with customers through social media platforms, but more recently warmed to the idea with the debut of Apple Music. Along with the Beats by Dre Support channel and Apple's official App Store Twitter feeds, the iPhone maker in July activated a Snapchat account for Apple Music, using it to push out promotional video content for Beats 1 Radio and streaming exclusives.

It's not clear what role, if any, Tran played in Apple's most recent experiments. From his credentials, however, Tran's forte is in social media marketing. With an education from UC Berkeley, he interned at marketing firm Prezi and tech giants Flextronics and Samsung. Tran still consults at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, where he also teaches a course on marketing and networking. Aside from a vague job title not much is known about Apple's new Digital Marketing Program Manager. Tran offers a tantalizing description of his position, however, saying he is "bringing the power of social and data to Apple."