Can Windows 'Anti-Android' Social Media Smartphone 7 Dial Up Success?
They are social media smartphones that are supposedly going to keep people from having their noses in their smartphones all the time. They might let you tweet, upload video and provide status updates all day long without the need for specialized Facebook, YouTube or Twitter apps. The new anti-android Windows Phone 7 even boasts features such as live tile. The software giant behind them hopes they are the anti-iPhones, the insurgents that will beat back the rapidly-growing ranks of the Android army.
“They” are the new Windows Phone 7 social media smartphones, unveiled this week by Microsoft at a New York City press event. And if consumers and business users decide to give Microsoft yet one more chance in the ultra-competitive mobile phone arena, they promise to extend the social media experience to an even wider audience.
Social media/content marketers should pay attention to how Facebook and other social networks can be designed into the WP7 user interface. Demonstration videos show how FB status updates are pushed directly to what Microsoft is calling the People Hub screen on the phone OS, so you can see what your friends have posted about themselves along with their contact information. The OS is highly customizable with its Live Tiles feature, so all this means the potential for fewer clicks to access what you want – and fewer obstacles between business content and customers/clients.
The WP7 Twitter app appears to be a cleaner-looking, easier-to-read way of checking tweets than some of the other mobile Twitter apps currently in use. And I can't imagine Microsoft not trying to figure out a way to maximize the YouTube experience on its 'anti-android' WP7 phones, so perhaps checking out video marketing efforts on the go may also be an easier experience in the future.
Of course, mobile social media doesn't actually need Microsoft to sell lots of Windows Phones to accelerate its impact on marketing; note the rapid growth already seen with location-based services. And Microsoft, as previously mentioned, has a steep hill to climb regarding skepticism over its past mobile phone efforts. But never count out a company with a reported $500 million of its own marketing dollars to spend offering up a competitor to iPhones and Androids.
The Gap Receives Negative Logo Feedback via Social Media
In case you needed more proof about who really controls the message in the 21st century world of marketing, consider how The Gap learned its lesson about the importance of listening to customers through social media.
Last week the San Francisco-based retailer used its website to unveil a new logo – black letters on a white background with a small blue square over the “P.” Customer reaction was immediate, scathing – and available for public viewing on the company's own Facebook page, which now has nearly 2,000 comments on this subject. “Great logo – if you are selling chemicals,” said one. “Insipid, bland and lacking any distinguishing features,” wrote another. “You decided to look through ClipArt and use a default design,” wrote a third.
Independent websites making fun of the change and soliciting user-designed alternatives quickly popped up, and the mainstream media took notice. Bloomberg News quoted social media marketing analysts as saying the retailer failed to solidify its connection with customers, and make them a part of the creative process, by not asking for opinions on the new logo before the unveiling.
But to its credit, the Gap's media relations team immediately used communities to wrest back control of the conversation. What followed was a rapidly-developing lesson for management in logo feedback.
“We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we're thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding,” said a message on the company's Facebook Wall dated Oct. 6th. “So much so we're asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we'd like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowdsourcing project.” Gap President Marka Hansen said essentially the same thing on the Huffington Post a day later.
But the company never said that it would definitely use a customer-designed logo – a mistake in my view, since that would have hammered home the fans' connection to the brand and created a contest-like atmosphere – and it just felt like the company was trying to prepare its audience for more potential shocks. “We've had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we're changing,” the company said on its Facebook Wall. There was also no mention on the homepage of the company's website about the call for customer design ideas.
Then late Monday, the company finally came clean and admitted it made a mistake, and would be returning to the original, familar big blue box logo. Whether or not the company got itself out of a box created by its customers remained to be seen, but the wording of the Gap's press release was sufficiently penitent.
“We’ve learned a lot in this process,” Hansen said in the press release. “And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing.”
“There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way. “
Those clicking noises you heard were the light bulbs finally turning on over the management team's heads. Maybe now The Gap fully appreciates the importance of listening to customers.
It's true that some companies have introduced branding changes that initially met with disapproval but eventually came to represent the business. But those were risks that were taken before the advent of methods like real-time social networks to take your customer's temperatures on how they view what you're doing as a business. In these economically challenging times, every bit of information from the people you sell to can tip the scales in favor of a successful campaign/product launch/reaction to a negative story.
If it didn't know it before, the Gap now understands that it has a lot of customers who like to comment and critique. Companies of all sizes should take note and not be afraid to practice the fine art of listening. Try it on for size – it may fit like a favorite pair of Gap jeans.