Microsoft: flogging for the common good


26 Jun 2008

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Is it okay to fake blog (or flog) if it is for charity and you provide a disclaimer stating the character is fictional?

Yes, it may be okay for those two reasons, but it still smells a little. This is Microsoft’s latest use of social media to get more people to use its instant messaging client Windows Live Messenger, as well as Hotmail.

The i’m talkathon blog, which is three-days old, does have a clear disclaimer acknowledging that as you are reading it “your BS detector is chirping like a smoke detector with a dicey nine-volt”. However, that’s not before the blurb on the ‘cool in a geeky kinda way’ Parker, who is just a guy with a computer and good intentions, apparently.

Parker informs us all about the ‘i’m’ initiative, a Microsoft program that donates to a social cause every time someone uses Windows Live Messenger or Windows Live Hotmail.

He even has his own Twitter account (where he waxes lyrical about needing to email his mom), as well as pics from his life on Flickr. This is all obviously for entertainment purposes but Microsoft must think Parker will ring true for lots of geek chic guys and gals out there (you know the kind – they’re using non-Microsoft products like Gmail, Facebook and Twitter).

Not everyone is impressed with Microsoft’s use of social media. One person writes on Parker’s Facebook page: “Microsoft should have just bought Yahoo; now, instead, they have to turn to research in directing internet traffic.”

Others clearly don’t understand Parker is make-believe: “You certainly do have a nice apartment,” says Facebook user, Chris.

However, the donations from each download do go to good causes, including Unicef and StopGlobalWarming.org.

Other big corporates have not fared so well in the embracing social media test. One notable example was Walmart’s fake blog, which was actually touted as the real deal chronicling a couple as they made their way around the US and stopping at Walmart’s along the way to have a chit chat with hard-working employees. It was run by Walmart’s PR company. FAIL.

By Marie Boran

Pictured: Microsoft’s fictional Parker urges people to join his talkathon