Tags: community, developer marketing, marketing, Microsoft
It’s been an interesting forage over the past few weeks into developer community and influencers at Microsoft. I go back to my first week here, ten years ago. I came here from a small dotcom in Vancouver where the only thing buggier than our code was our leadership team – but that’s another story. I had to quickly pivot my skillset from generating positive coverage, to managing coverage. It was no longer a matter of cold calling 30 people hoping one would return my call, but deciding which of the 30 solicitations I would return for the most value.
Flash forward to today, and everywhere I turn there are digital marketing gurus, social media mavens, and the most recent, word of mouth marketers. New names are being generated to distance each new round from the previous, as people stumble into communities and groups that they are ready to engage and delight.
The problem is one that is unique to Microsoft and a handful of other companies. We have existing communities, and influencers, and relationships. Our influencers come from the pool of people who invented blogging, and tweeting, chatting and social media. And much like people need to relearn PR/AR/IR when they come here, our marketers need to learn that managing community and influencer relationships is not a new discipline in Microsoft and they are not at the forefront. Newsgroups, blogs, and forums came from our community, not the other way around.
Our MVP team has done an amazing job of building a global community management program and team. MSDN and TechNet have been on the forefront of forums and chats since their inception, and our field evangelists have deep relations with the most influential community members, because they are neighbors and geeks together, and have been for years. Our engineering, product management and partner teams have been leading customer advisory councils and panels and forums since the beginning.
So the challenge we really face is: how can we as a marketing organization add value to these communities and help make them better, stronger and more engaged. Marketing should not be building technical or enthusiast communities. The communities already exist. We should be in helping those communities be stronger, more sustainable. We should be identifying new communities, new influencers, new challenges. We should be thinking about how to measure the impact of the community, and even how do we identify what community is. How do we tie together the fragmented efforts to create a single voice. How do we help not randomize our most important customers and how do we distribute the weight and voice across all our communities.
What if we turned everything we know as marketers about social media on its head and listened to the people who created it?