If a mention is nullcasted off the timeline, and nobody hashflags it, is @Apple really tweeting?
The @Apple account has existed for years, a desolate, seemingly unwanted timeline with a growing follower count yet an egg-default profile picture, and nary a tweet to its name. That changed this week. Mostly.
Now, it you visit @apple, you'll see an iconic if understated black and white version of the company's logo, with a bright blue Verified by Twitter badge slapped on the side, and the black and brightly bokeh iPhone 7 event invitation set as background.
You still won't see any tweets, though — unless you know where to look.
Nullcasting is the old term for Tweets that are promoted through Twitter's advertising platform but aren't shown on the tweeter's timeline. The new term is promoted only. (Andy Baio shared some fun tricks with promoted tweets early last year.)
Apple's promoted only tweet, unsurprisingly, is for the upcoming iPhone 7 event on September 7. Again, you won't see it in @Apple's timeline, but you can get to it directly.
If you do retweet it, you get a near-instant reply, also nullcasted through the ads platform:
As Ducker mentioned in the tweet embedded above, in addition to the Schrödinger's tweets, Apple is promoting both a hashtag, #AppleEvent and a hashflag.
A hashflag, introduced in 2010 and resurrected for the 2012 World Cup, automatically appends an emoji-like flag to the end of a hashtag. In this case, an Apple logo flag at the end of #AppleEvent.
Hey, if you had hundreds of billions in the bank, you'd have outrageous nullcast and hashflag fun on social as well! (You know you would!)
It'll be interesting to see how Apple uses @Apple going forward. Will the company live-tweet the iPhone 7 event like some of us do concerts, soccer games, or episodes of the Bachelor? Will it be used to share product announcements, images, and video? Will it reflect Apple's new Newsroom on the web? Will it retweet @tim_cook and @pschiller? Will its emoji game be as tight as @AppStore?
We'll find out soon enough.