Gizmodo.com today confirmed that Windows 7, the next version of the Microsoft operating system is due to be released in December 2009, this comes after many mentioned that the beta had included “welcome innovations and much-needed polish“, and according to CNET.com “one of Microsoft’s greatest operating systems”.
With all this positive praise, and all eyes on Microsoft and Windows 7 between now and December 2009, the question that really emerges is how will Microsoft manage and correspond to customers via social media, the one key platform that has ensured that instances such as Lego improved it’s overall company culture, and how Starbucks improved it’s customers discussion online via MyStarbucksidea.com . We all know Microsoft is trying to avert a huge PR disaster like that of Windows Vista which was so criticized that PC manufacturers such as Dell who offered a Windows Vista to Windows XP Downgrade Option, but how will Microsoft act a little smarter in the long run for the success of Windows 7.
Here is a top 5 list on the ways I expect Microsoft will create a open conversation using social media in the initial phases of Windows 7:
1) Get ALL the Windows 7 team members on Twitter.com - The reason I believe this will work is because you can see how Zappos.com has made sure all 198 employees are on Twitter.com, according to ReadWriteweb.com, have become the human face of Zappos.com, and been there to maintain a strong level of authority and strong brand value for Zappos, you can check their Tweets at Zappos Employee’s Tweets
2) Share useful insights on how Windows 7 works, and cool tips and tricks- One thing I have always advocated with Microsoft especially after Windows Vista launched was the transparency they offered via Windows Team Blog to announce when things were going well and when things maybe weren’t quite working out (in the beta stage), but they were always there to deliver the news, and allow strong interaction, I think personally Microsoft didn’t quite step up enough on this blog to talk about real issues, it read too much like an extended corporate press release, but hopefully the lessons learned from “failure to adequately prepare its hardware, software and peripheral partners for Vista’s release” will serve them well in providing a more opinionated and interesting blog!
3) Making sure to not think viral video is the ONLY way to promote a new product- Mashable.com called the Internet Explorer 8 video about “IE8 Net History” “Microsoft turning to Social Media”, I personally call it a huge mistake in believing the way things started for social media still relate to today’s overall realtime conversation, during the last year the top 20 viral videos according to ViralVideoChart.com have garnered 5.8 billion views, and Microsoft were not part of that selection, even with the supposedly successful “Gates/Seinfeld Commercial”, if Microsoft could step out of “comfort zone” it was never that comfortable in then we might see some progress towards a more experimental Microsoft.
4) Sponsor Blogs- Perhaps this could be seen as asking to much of Microsoft, but if like Best Western, the popular American hotel chain who sponsored a travel expert known as the “Travel Mom”, Microsoft could just be a little less weary of owning the conversation, and dictating how people hear about the bugs and flaws of Windows 7, then a Windows 7 expert could be a suitable way to put forward a positive message of trust and interaction to bloggers.
5) Join the Dark Side, and get a Facebook Fan Page- Well, I guess not technically the dark side as Microsoft have already invested $240 million into Facebook, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Microsoft making the transition from the grouchy guy who won’t join the party, to the “all-in” engager, this is a more relatable and equally transparent form of communicating with customers, it gives users more ownership when used in conjunction with their existing Facebook account, and in the instance of a company like H&R Block actually enables a new side of the conversation to emerge, something that amazes me constantly is the stark contrast in opinions in different social media communities, and Facebook is certainly one of the more vocal and opionated ones!
All in all, if Microsoft can achieve even half of the positive feedback it has received for the beta and RC of Windows 7, the social media conversation should flow in a very positive direction, and I feel perhaps it’s too early to say whether Microsoft will keep it cool when under pressure, remember Microsoft most likely believes in part that they still own the conversation, but they will get a rude awakening when the s***t hits the fan, and they will be thankful of search.twitter.com, TwitScoop and other aggregators keeping them tuned in!
Originally Published at: Josh Chandler's Blog