Windows recently launched a phone that nobody cares about. But rather than just accepting that fact, Microsoft did what any large company with a mediocre product does: they threw money at the problem. In the social media space, this translated into calling up Federated Media, signing up for content-column placements on 59 blogs in the FM network, scheduling them all for the same day, and having them promote a Windows 7 phone giveaway. The posts were organized under the deliciously ironic theme of “less is more,” because not only does a 59-blog campaign for an unnecessary smart phone illustrate this point, but because there’s nothing like a little lack of self-awareness to announce how well-suited a brand really is to the mommyblogging space.
I was trying to explain to Mr. Right-Click (a non-blog reading, non-social media kind of person) what the problem with this campaign was, and this proved tricky, so I’m guessing this must be why Microsoft thought this would be a good idea in the first place. And it must also mean that, while whomever they have in charge of landing placement deals over at FM these days is clearly talented in selling the idea of social media as an advertising tool, they are not actually consumers of social media or — at the very least — not willing to set aside financial concerns for a better use of the space itself. Here’s the thing: I’m a mommyblogger, so when I open up my reader on Monday, and start reading blogs, I see one giveaway and it’s no big deal. I see two giveaways and I might smirk. I see three giveaways and I start to get annoyed. But now I’m only five blogs into my daily blog reading and ALL of them feature the contrived writing prompt “less is more” sponsored by Microsoft, and bookended by a giveaway for a crappy phone?
Now I’m pissed. Now I’m wondering if there are any bloggers left who haven’t been bought off by Microsoft. Now I’m clicking through my reader trying to see just how bad the damage really is. Now I’m making droll observations to myself about how
every single one of the people many of the people giving away these crappy Windows phones are enthusiastic an iPhone users. Now I’m getting on Twitter and making jokes about how bad this phone must be to require this kind of promotion. And now I’m going to find out how much these people sold their trust capital for — and it better be a lot of money, because I love bloggers to make money, god knows I do, but this is a bad deal made worse by the volume of it, and I’m hoping that none of them knew how many people were involved ahead of time and that this is just a giant clusterfuck that could have been avoided with some carefully asked questions.
But no. This campaign involved 59 blogs, and it is my understanding that people knew ahead of time how many people would be involved. Though there was some variation on how bloggers were paid according to traffic, and though I cannot give numbers I can tell you that I gasped when I heard how well paid this campaign was. So, I’m happy for these bloggers that they are getting good compensation for their content columns. I’m just not sure if the audience alienation is going to be worth it long term.
Am I overreacting?