Microsoft has embarked on an ambitious social media monitoring project designed to gauge IT professionals' and developers' opinions on the company's products. The software giant opted to bring in an outside monitoring organization, Synthesio, to create a customized listening platform for Microsoft UK. The proprietary platform, called Pulse, allows Microsoft's British headquarters to compare feedback from industry professionals to more general Microsoft chatter scraped from social media and web forums. Pulse evaluates both user feedback voluntarily submitted to Microsoft and general industry-specific chatter picked up on the web. The project launched seven months ago, but has only been made public now.
As part of the project, Microsoft and Synthesio are monitoring several techie-specific web destinations such as MSDN Forums, Overclockers UK's web forums, and The Register's forums. Content provided to Microsoft by the Pulse platform specifically excludes articles and blogs written by journalists and Microsoft employees. Pulse is part of a larger Microsoft project to boost internal net consumer satisfaction metrics.
Befitting a company of its size, Microsoft has a massive social media, web monitoring, and brand evaluation operation—both in-house and through external partners. Redmond has been quietly working on a Facebook and Google+ competitor, and their well-regarded research laboratories have conducted fascinating social media studies. In addition, Microsoft has their own social media monitoring tool called LookingGlass.
However, Pulse is specifically aimed at understanding one certain market segment—the developers and IT folks responsible for those sweet, sweet enterprise software purchases. As Microsoft UK's Vaqar Khamisani puts it, "Improving the customer experience and driving higher customer satisfaction is something that everyone at Microsoft is measured on. The Pulse project with Synthesio enables us to take a mountain of unstructured feedback—both solicited and unsolicited—and turn it into valuable actionable insights. Being able to tap into, and make sense of, the fresh, authentic voice of our customers is a powerful driver for positive change, and something which could revolutionize the way we meet the needs of our customers in the future."
Catriona Oldershaw of Synthesio adds that "The results are extremely valuable, providing a more complete view of the consumer psyche, and enhancing the efficiency of data sharing among all departments within the enterprise to ultimately provide a better product."
Synthesio is a France-based company that's part of Paris' rapidly growing tech scene and caters towards multinational social media monitoring. Other clients who use Synthesio for social media monitoring include Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, H&M, and mobile giant Orange TeleCom. According to Synthesio's Ben Farkas, Pulse is "currently running in the UK, but is being watched closely by Microsoft (Redmond) which is always open to taking innovations developed by its country subsidiaries and scaling them globally."
Microsoft is in the midst of a long-term reappraisal of their own social media monitoring and engagement efforts. According to a keynote presentation at Atlanta's iStrategy conference by Worldwide Digital Marketing senior director Katrina Klier, the company has experienced a 54% year-over-year jump in social media engagement.