Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program – New Brand Advocacy program

Learn how Microsoft rolls out it’s largest brand advocacy program ever, the Windows Insider Program. I’ll be sharing lessons from their launch of this new brand advocacy program. You’ll get to understand the framewok they have in place and the activities they are doing.

Learn how Microsoft rolls out it’s largest brand advocacy program ever, the Windows Insider Program. I’ll be sharing lessons from their launch of this new brand advocacy program.

The Announcement

First the announcement itself, it’s a pre-sell:

Microsoft is launching the Windows Insider Program tomorrow.

The Windows Insider Program, where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops. Soon after, we’ll also be releasing technical previews of Windows Server and our management tools.

With the Insider program, we’re inviting our most enthusiastic Windows customers to shape Windows 10 with us. We know they’re a vocal bunch – and we’re looking forward to hearing from them.

The Windows Insider Program is intended for PC experts and IT pros who are comfortable using pre-release software with variable quality. Insiders will receive a steady stream of early builds from us with the latest features we’re experimenting with.

– Source blogs.windows.com

The barrier

They’ve clearly demarcated the target customers:

For PC experts and IT pros who are comfortable using pre-release software with variable quality.

 

Learn about why you need barriers for a successful brand advocacy program.

The introduction to the program

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-coming-soon

The Introductory Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84NI5fjTfpQ

In-depth

Let me quickly run you through the main points of the upcoming insider program. I’ve included below a small transcript of the video on the page http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-coming-soon (Words in maroon are my comments.)

Windows Insider Program

We’ve designed the Tech Preview so you can see what we’re building as we’re building it and tell us what you think.

(Here they’re telling the potential brand advocates what they are going to get: A ring side view to how they are building the next version of their software.)

We hope to involve tech enthusiasts like you in our software development process over the next several months so that your feedback becomes part of the next version of Windows.

(You get a chance to see your feedback incorporated into the product, they’re Empowering you and enabling you to co-create with them.)

The tech preview is meant for PC experts who are comfortable downloading unfinished software.

(The are putting in place the requisite barriers to entry to ensure they have appropriate brand advocates.)

The first step which you might have already done is to download and install the Tech Preview…. (abbreviated)

But we’ll be updating it regularly.

As a Windows Insider, you’ll get two benefits.

  • You’ll get more frequent updates with earlier but less polished software and
  • You’ll have access to the Windows Feedback app from which you can send us comments directly.

(Clearly articulated benefits, early access and a way to communicate with the team.)

……… (abbreviated)

But one thing’s for sure: by signing up, you’ll be the first to take all of the new features out for a test drive.

—- followed by demo

And one of the areas where we’re looking for feedback in the Tech Preview is multitasking.

(Specific guidance as to where they need help from brand advocates.)

—- Followed by demo of multitasking features.

Sign up for the Tech preview at http://preview.windows.com

(Distinct microsite for this brand advocacy program which is separate from their other brand advocacy programs. A.k.a. Segmentation.)

Analysis and Comments

This is a perfect example of the RIDE framework in place to create a brand advocacy program.

First the Big O: They’ve identified their objectives:

Business Objective

1. To get early participation from target customers,

2. Get product tested

3. Enable massive word of mouth marketing even before the product is launched.

Rewards and Recognition:

Recognition and Reward

1. They’ve promised early and frequent product updates to the brand advocates.

2. Providing early access ensures their partners and advocates have a lead over the rest of the market. That in itself is a huge reward as they get hands on with the product and a chance to be experts before others.

3. The program name itself is a recognition, if you’re selected you’re in the Windows Insider Program. For some this in itself is a reward and recognition.

Impact

Impact Measurement

The direct impact from this program is going to be multi-fold.

1. Innovation and Testing – Ideas from the field, their very customers giving direct feedback.

2. Word of Mouth Marketing – This brand advocacy program is going to lead to massive amount of word of mouth marketing for Microsoft, with customers speaking on social media, forums, blogs, articles, video demos etc. Each brand advocate in some way or the other whether in person or online is going to be speaking about this to someone else.

Discover  – Identification of Brand Advocates

Discover Brand Advocates

1. PC experts who are comfortable downloading unfinished software

The 3 E’s – Evangelize, Empower and Engage

Engagement

1. They are empowering their brand advocates by promising them early access.

2. They are giving access to the Windows Feedback app from which you can send comments directly to them, thereby empowering and engaging with them.

They’ve beautifully ensured empowering and engaging, and I’m sure they have a plan to evangelize their brand advocates too.

The above is a good example of putting in place the RIDE framework.

You can learn more about it in my brand advocacy book which covers how software product companies can implement a brand advocacy program using RIDE, the 5 step brand advocacy framework.

RIDE Framework - 5 steps to building a brand advocacy program

What do you think about how they are rolling this out?

Do you think they will have a large number of participants?

Do share in the comments below.

The weak link in most content communication strategies

FRAMEWORKS FOR THINKING ABOUT COMMUNICATION

I was in the middle of a discussion with a friend about self evaluation, and the discussion veered around how most companies go about designing a corporate website or a brochure.

Here’s how the discussion was:

Corporate Brochure or Website

We see a corporate brochure or website and the typical discussion which happens is around how it should look and what content it needs to contain.

 

It’s like we’re seeing the trees but missing the forest, we’re missing the main purpose of the website or brochure.

What is the purpose?

However, when you think of a brochure or a website, in fact any kind of corporate communication medium, you need to think of three things.

Corporate Brochure or Website framework

1. What do we want people to Know

2.  What will people Remember

3. What do we want people to Do

 

 

Know Remember and Do

When people are viewing your content, what is it that you want to communicate to them, what is it that you want them to Know.

What is it that they will remember, most people forget 90% of a communication after less than a day.  So you need to design your communication in a way that people remember your key message.

What do you want people to do (action) as a result of the communication? Do you want them to sign up to an email list, connect with your consultant, or buy?

 

Content specialists are focused in the wrong direction

Content Specialist ProblemContent specialists are focused on the orange circled part.  What sections need to be there, how many sections will there be? How many pages of content do we need to write? Blah blah blah and more blah. Now I’m not saying that one should not talk about or not consider these things, they are important however, they are secondary. What is important is to focus on what we want our reader, viewer to know, remember and ultimately do.

Find Purpose and the means will follow

Purpose of content communication typically might be a desired action or transaction, however, depending on what stage people are at, getting to that point of action might be different for different people.

Awareness StageSo for example a person completely new to your concept (product) at the awareness stage might want to mull over the information and get further information.

 

More Information - FAQ or Newsletter or BlogYou might want to hence lead him to more information, which you might provide via a frequently asked questions (F.A.Q) list, or via a blog, or via a newsletter, or your website if the information is being viewed in a brochure. The point being you’re making sure that a person who is just beginning to get aware has an opportunity to engage with you further and move on to the transaction stage where he exchanges something with you. This could be in the form of a potential  customers email id in exchange for subscription to your report on the “10 ways to save tax legally – Report”  or your newsletter which provides “Tips on how to create a parallel source of income” or your blog etc.. Essentially in the transaction stage some thing gets exchanged between both parties.

MeetingThis transaction can also be a physical meeting with your representatives to get personal queries answered, or via an online forum, where further queries could be answered. Here again the potential customer shares their personal information, in exchange for more information.

The purpose of your content strategy

Purpose of Content Strategy

The objective of your brochure or website is to get the reader to know, remember and then do some action. Depending on which stage of the customer journey that person is  in they may seek further information , want answers to questions or a person who is convinced might be ready for a purchase. Your content needs to help the person move from the initial awareness stage (knowing and remembering), to doing something, a transaction and finally consumption.

(Note: Consumption is getting the customer to fully use your product, more on this in another article. Additionally, despite your best efforts the person may not move to the transaction stage, however, that’s the objective, the purpose of your content communication strategy.).

The people challenge

Brand Content and FunctionHere is another look at our Know, Remember and Do framework. This time with the terms Brand, Content and Function against each of the three pillars of our framework.

Do you notice the challenge?

Brand Content and Function TeamWhen you look at the people involved in pulling this off, you’d realize that three different kind of people (inner orange circle) are required,  a designer, writer and an engineer. Especially when we’re creating an online presence. All three of them need to work in tandem to create and execute a comprehensive communication strategy, which will clearly communicate to the client what the client needs to know, remember and do.

Even though I’ve put names against a specific part of our framework, that doesn’t mean that branding is only the designers forte, copy plays a huge role here too. Similar in terms of what functionality or what action we want to influence.

Know, Remember and Do Framework (KReD)
So having the KReD framework is the first crucial part of a communication strategy, which one needs to consider.  Thinking about what you want the potential customer to Know, Remember and ultimately Do is key, in ensuring that you deliver value to your clients. Understanding this ensures that we capture the basic essentials of the client objective. However, this is just the first step. We need to design communication which captures these three essentials and communicates it effectively to the end consumer.

How can we design content communication effectively?

How to get people pay attention to your content? Even if you use the basic KRED (Know, REmember and Do) framework, and decide what needs to be communicated to your customers.  Effectively communicating your ideas to your clients and their end customers is a challenge . Frameworks come in handy here as well to address your content to both your clients and their customers.

Seven frameworks for effective content communication

Read more “The weak link in most content communication strategies”