Microsoft’s Zune community team have a problem

You have to feel sorry for the people at Microsoft working on Zune. They have what many consider to be Microsoft’s finest product and yet they are being shot out of the water by Steve Jobs and iPod/iPhone. Not good. But they have the comfort that Zune is part of an integrated strategy going forward. That it will grow to be one of the core elements of the Xbox/Live/Zune technology and strategy. And as it grows it will become a game machine, a phone and a camera. And all these features will be integrated with Xbox and Live. This is where Microsoft is headed.

As part of building and nurturing the brand Microsoft obviously use community marketing. An essential tool these days. And the people who do this must have a hard time against the Apple iPod/iPhone brand. So, like all good community people they searched for, identified and then looked after evangelists. This is because evangelists act like a force multiplier. They are effectively free employees. And because they are not actual employees they can get away with being a lot more guerrilla in their tactics. In other words they can be fanboys.

So imagine the repercussions in the Microsoft Zune community department when a very prominent evangelist firstly went postal on them and secondly defected to the opposition in a fit of pique. The Zune Guy even has Zune tattoos over his body, which he will now need to change or have removed. And he had tried to change his name to “Microsoft Zune”.

He says that his volte-face was all because Microsoft reneged on a promise to bring him for a tour of Redmond. Microsoft say that they never made such a promise and only mentioned the possibility to him. So we can all see what has happened here. Microsoft raised this guys expectations so that a misunderstanding was inevitable. And all the freebies they had already given him counted as nothing once he thought that he was spurned and so devalued as a person. His justification video tells you everything really.

What this whole episode highlights is just how difficult community work is, what a high level of social skills are needed to do it well. And the crass stupidity of dangling a carrot and then not delivering.


  1. LOL i cant blame MS. Trying to crack this market, when it is effectively sewn up by Apple is hard enough without having this guy associated with their product. Imagine if he was promoted as the “unofficial” poster boy. What would be the tag line? “Buy the Zune! For all you dangerously over-weight, 30+ social misfits who have probably never slept with a living women, and still live with your psycotic, “she’s also mah sister” ,agrophobic mother!”

    I have never worked in marketing, but i have got a feeling it wouldn’t make the same impact as those really funky silhoutte ads Apple use. I’ve been wrong before though, maybe Ballmer is warming up the private jet as we speak . . . . . .

  2. Another example of a marketing effort gone wrong. Stop sc*****ng up Microsoft. But I doubt whether MS is really to blame here. I guess the guy really got his hopes too high. When you’re making millions of dollars in revenue and have a huge hierarchy of executives, managers as MS has, there is sure to be a mishap here and there.

    I guess it’s easier to defame MS than write something positive for it. Afterall, most people think that MS is evil. As I wrote in my article “Anything with Microsoft (or Vista) in the headline and defaming the company is a surefire way to get attention. Who cares if its chairman is the largest donator to charity. So what if almost everyone uses Windows, Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer (although Firefox is gaining). The point is they can’t do anything right and makes a great topic to stir up the hornets nest.”

    Just for the record, I bought an Ipod and love it.

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