How to do social media: Microsoft vs Madame Moi

Microsoft and Madame Moi doesn’t have a lot in common.

Microsoft is a big company; Madame Moi is small.

One deals in fashion the other sells microsoft products (guess who).

…and one gets social media right.

This article is not about Microsoft or Madame Moi as such. You could replace Microsoft with most other big companies and you could replace Madame Moi with an increasing number of young entrepeneurs. But recent the online behaviour of  both Microsoft and Madame Moi in relation to the earthquake disaster in Japan makes them a good example for this article.

Both tried to help the situation in Japan… in hope of positive sentiment from the social web.

Microsoft via Bing posted a tweet asking people to retweet and in return Microsoft would donate $1. It created a backlash.

Madame Moi launched a YouTube video urging people to buy some of her items of which the proceedings would go to Red Cross. So far I’ve only seen a positive response.

Why did one work while the other failed? One isn’t better or worse than the other.

But the way I see it it really comes down to 3 things:

  • Company size
  • Long-term and personal engagement with customers
  • Giving before receiving

Company Size

Had Madame Moi been as big as microsoft she would probably have suffered the same backlash. But size matters in social. The smaller your company is, the more genuine you come across. Big companies almost instantly attracts critics with a syndical view on everything they do. But smaller companies are easier to emphasize with.

That doesn’t mean large companies cannot create the same emotional environment but they have to create a scaled-down, simplified presence of the company. For example Richard Branson is the scaled down version of Virgin. While we may hate Virgin’s faceless customer service we still think Richard’s an alright guy.

Long-term and personal engagement with customers

Many who saw the Bing tweet have no regular interaction with microsoft as a company. So the tweet was read out of context of all the other good things Microsoft do.

Madame Moi’s tweet mainly reached her social sphere of  customers and supporters. They may follow her across her other social profiles as well. They know what she is like as a person and company. They are familiar with how she behaves mixing her personal life with the occasional marketing pokes here and there.

But above all they’ve seen her do this type of charity before and know she genuinely wants to help. They have a personal relationship to the company through her personality.

Giving before receiving

Social is about giving before receiving.

Had Microsoft had just donated $100,000 they would probably have received the retweets the wanted plus they would have mainly been positive. But they didn’t. They expected us to do something before they would commit.

They also made it clear that they were only willing to follow their customers engagement to a certain point namely max $100,000 which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t seem like a lot. So even if you did retweet the Bing tweet, Microsoft may not reciprocate.

Madame Moi is different. She invested time and effort in tweeting about the disaster and create the youtube video. For a small company this is a lot of effort and people, whether they are in marketing or not, appriciate this effort as it comes across as being sincere.


Next time you look for inspiration take a break from the big companies and how they do social and look to the new entrepreneurs and small companies out there run by digital natives who live in the social web.

Madame Moi’s Japan appeal

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