Lessons to Learn from Microsoft’s Social Media Strategies


Share on LinkedIn

Recently I received an email from Microsoft Advertising Community, it was a usual promotional email sent to Hotmail users. However, luckily, I opened it to read it with almost no purpose in mind, as I was feeling a little tired from daily work. To my surprise, this email contained a very valuable “White Paper” containing the analysis and summary of Microsoft’s Social Media endeavors and it was not just usual marketing stuff, it was the actual actionable stuff that we, the marketers, love to have at our disposal so that we can draw conclusions and real world results to, not only pitch our clients, but to share with our peers to boast expertise.

Below is the summary of two key lessons that I concluded after reading this “White Paper” and I strongly recommend it to bloggers and social media marketers, specially, because these lessons can truly give you insight into the mindset of social media audience.

I will sparingly quote from the white paper as it is the main source of inspiration for this blog post. So let us start with the basic question.

What has actually changed after the advent of Social Media?

Traditionally, if a customer was unhappy with a product or service, they’d have to write a letter or call a company’s customer service line to register their complaint.

But Now,

The immediacy and ubiquity of the web means sentiment about the release of a new gadget, TV show or sports team’s latest performance can be measured, and the reaction to it assessed almost in real time.

And the real challenge for today’s marketer is not in setting up a facebook or twitter account, it is

“the increasing numbers of people of all ages joining social networking platforms, and the plethora of devices that utilize multiple screens to tap into and connect millions of consumers every day,…… and social media appears to many to be too complex a minefield to negotiate.”

Conclusion: social media is all about collaboration taking place almost instantly, and social media marketing should be thought of as the discipline. The speed with which news can travel and inaccurate myths spread as a result of inaction can often have a lasting and damaging effect.

Whether it’s $6 million in sales of computer equipment by Dell, or hundreds of internet and TV customers whose service issues were successfully solved by Comcast, having a conversational presence and collaborating with customers and potential customers online has proved fruitful.

Lesson Number 1:

Microsoft admitted that at beta launch of “AdCenter” the initial response of blogosphere and social media was a bit warm. In the words of Microsoft:

“…………start writing on blogs and forums that Microsoft didn’t know what it was doing, that it was subversively forcing advertisers to use Internet Explorer as adCenter was not compatible with rival browsers, and that a software company could not possibly compete or react quickly enough in such a fast-changing environment, given its background in 2- to 3-year cycles of product releases.”

You can see from this quote that the situation was really daunting for Microsoft with a rival like Google which is far better than Microsoft at being social. However, the guys at Microsoft handled the situation pretty well.

Solution – Adopt Social Media as a Discipline:

The solution to above problem is done by adopting social media as a discipline; a discipline that should permeate across all departments. From marketing and PR to product development and customer services, social elements must be etched into the processes, campaigns and outcomes of all your business’ activities.

“The team behind adCenter created a Community Team to leverage that experience; utilize social media to get our message out there; prevent less-favorable PR situations from escalating; and start collaborating with our customers to help them understand the product and our strategy, giving them a heads-up on what was coming next.”

This is the crux of Microsoft’s strategy and is a very good example of blending “Social Media” right into the culture of organization.

Lesson 2: Do not be an imposter:

The Microsoft adcenter team had two choices to start with either to participate under the cover or react openly. They took the second step and introduced themselves as “Microsoft Employees.”

“There was no point “pretending” to be anyone else, because imagine the negative PR impact of being outed as an imposter. Being open, honest and transparent helped us gain trust with those on the forums and thus began a healthy dialogue of information sharing and actionable feedback.”

This concludes that unless you are willing to dodge people over fraud schemes, it’s good to be open, transparent and open. “Honesty is the best policy”

To blend social media into organization culture and not to fear to respond with a corporate face, on social media, is the core of the social media strategy of Microsoft.

This concludes my general observation of Microsoft’s Social Media Strategy. However, if you are interested in reading about How Microsoft used facebook and twitter in their social media marketing strategy, check out the posts on my Internet Marketing blog

Mohsin Khawaja
Mohsin Khawaja is an Internet Marketing Professional with experience in Internet Marketing Planning, Management & Conversion Analysis.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here