Company background: The Microsoft Tech Community is Microsoft's official community for public best practice sharing amongst IT Pros, developers, customers, and tech enthusiasts. It is a collection of community hubs focused on products and solutions, becoming a one-stop shop for all things Microsoft community. Since launching September 2016, it has grown to support 104 communities and counting, 486K members, reaching just under 7M unique visitors monthly (inclusive of unauthenticated visitors).
Contact: Erica Esper
Title: Sr. Community Business Strategist
Related URLs: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/
Kudos Category: Keep Calm and Carry On
1. How did your team shift your existing strategy to better engage customers during a crisis?
With the current public health advisories brought about by COVID-19, online community has become one of the few remaining ways to drive technical and professional learning opportunities for our community. We knew majority of our users worked in fields that would be affected by remote work and we wanted to help. We had the resources and knowledge, but how could we come together and create a hub quick enough to have helpful, relevant impact? For some of our users, this would be the first time they’d have to do their technical job from home. They already trusted the Tech Community for product insights & tips, and we wanted to be there for them during this time – and quickly.
From a Product Marketing Manager perspective, the challenge of reaching customers without in-person events was presenting itself as travel became more restricted. Suddenly, planned events slated to showcase product announcements were no longer happening. We would have to find a new way to meet customers, receive product feedback, ideas, and connect in a purely digital world.
2. What operational processes did you create or change to respond in a time of crisis?
To help address these remote challenges, we created a community space for sharing best practices, guidance, and experiences around enabling remote work. Registering is fast and free, and in seconds users have access to the community forums and feedback submission areas on the Microsoft Tech Community. With this, the Enable Remote Work community was born.
We’ve created a space for users to ask questions, answer others’ questions, and participate in discussions. Employees across Microsoft also engage in the discussions, and there’s blogs being published on related announcements and helpful resources.
We were able to solve for better connection between product teams and our community by leaning into what we already had, and amplifying it. This meant an uptick in AMA’s – Ask Microsoft Anything – where PMMs could chat with customers for an hour on Microsoft Tech Community, sharing product news, updates, tips, etc. This helped keep the 1:1 feel when in-person events couldn’t happen. Our team is there to support AMAs from start to finish, between promoting the event, moderating it, troubleshooting if needed and providing analytics. Our team also produced numerous Live Events; this entailed getting product teams set up on the platform, pushing out marketing promotions for them on our community and doing a wrap up report once the event ended.
While we’ve already had a strong Microsoft presence on our Tech Community, travel bans and remote work meant we saw a steady increase in employees joining the community. Our team wanted to empower teams to use the Microsoft Tech Community on their own, with ease, to continuously tap into it for their product marketing needs. With the help of our Employee Lounge on the Tech Community, we were able to release materials that helped get new users set up, best practices around holding an AMA/Live Event, how to blog and promote it, and more. We became a one stop shop in all things digital connection.
We’ve created a space for users to ask questions, answer others’ questions, and participate in discussions. Employees across Microsoft also engage in the discussions, and there’s blogs being published on related announcements and helpful resources. It became an online destination to collate helpful advice on how to manage the new world of remote work in one place, making it easier for our members to find relevant information in one place.
A snapshot of the Enabling Remote Work Community in the Tech Community.
3. What success metrics did you use to determine if your shifts in strategy and process had the desired outcomes? What were those quantifiable outcomes?
With 400 posts in just a few months, the Enabling Remote Work community has seen over 37K unique visitors and over 55K page views. Furthermore, enabling these kinds of resources during a time when people were seeking community and help, led the over traffic for MTC to increase +1M in traffic month over month.
Microsoft Tech Community has always been a trusted resource and a unique way for employees to connect with their customers, but now more than ever have Microsoft teams seen the value in the space. Over the course of 4 months, there were 2,881 employee sign-ups to our tech community. This has led to more teams buying into Microsoft Tech Community and therefore, the community becoming more important than ever in this time of digital connection and promotion. Being a part of MTC allows you to reach customers the right way, and currently we are the only way to do it in the capacity that it’s been done.
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