If you were a betting man (or woman), who do you think would win in a social media face-off between the two most widely used desktop/laptop operating systems? In one corner you have OS X, Apple's svelte and sexy OS that is adored by practically everyone who has tried it. In the opposite corner, you have the various flavors of Windows, which have a much larger home and enterprise userbase, but haven't gotten much positive press in recent years.
If you put your money behind OS X, you're out of luck. Apple's operating system may have a fanatical group of followers and a reality distortion field when it comes to press coverage, but in the social media sphere Apple Inc. lags. Comparing the two companies' efforts, it's clear that there are very different schools of thought at work in terms of using social media for customer outreach.
Take a look at Facebook. A Facebook page for OS X Leopard has 13,664 fans, several dozen photos, and a wordy company overview and mission, apparently scraped directly from Apple.com. By comparison, Microsoft's Windows page has 120,593 fans, lots of active (and critical) discussions, a collection of YouTube videos (mostly commercials for Windows 7), and a number of links, special offers, and connections to local Windows Facebook pages in Canada and Europe. The "info" page is blessedly short -- 37 words long, compared to Apple's 594.
Microsoft has a similarly strong presence on other networks. The @mswindows Twitter account has 51,715 followers and more than 2,000 tweets, including links to new resources, giveaways, and actual conversations with customers. On MySpace, the dedicated Windows product page leverages the social network's affinity for music.
Apple, of course, is also known for music, but you won't find much of a corporate presence on MySpace. We couldn't find any iPod or iTunes page, and the "Apple Inc." user is identified as a 33-year-old single female in Cupertino who has just 171 friends and hasn't updated the Apple Inc. MySpace profile for nearly a year. As for Twitter, there is a Mac OS X (Rumors) account, but it has only 13 tweets and 1,131 followers, and it's not even clear if it's official. Meanwhile, the Apple Inc. account is protected, with no visible tweets or followers.
Microsoft seldom bests Apple when it comes to comparing the performance or functionality of their respective operating systems. But in the social sphere, Microsoft wins, hands-down. Apple is known for being secretive (something which has been mercilessly parodied by Fake Steve Jobs), but the company's failure to effectively leverage these tools for basic marketing and customer outreach should be regarded as a staggering lapse.
Sources and research: Apple.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, MySpace.com, FakeSteve.blogspot.com, TheStandard.com, CultOfMac.com, Bits.NYTimes.com
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