From Microsoft Inspire: 4 tips for marketing in a social media world

Last month, we had the pleasure of spending a week in Las Vegas with members of the US Partner community for Microsoft Inspire.

If you’re new to the partner community, Microsoft Inspire is an annual conference where partners from all over the world come to discover what’s ahead for the next fiscal year, get a jump start on their digital transformation, network with partners, share best practices, and more.

Here are our top modern marketing takeaways from this year’s event:

Top 4 takeaways

1. Social media starts with being social

Throughout Microsoft Inspire, we strived to be social both on and offline. Offline in the US Lounge, we ran happy hour and social media tweetups. For those of you who are unfamiliar, tweetups are an in-person gathering of people from Twitter as a way to bring like-minded people with similar interests together.

As the week progressed, we took our tweetups on the road with a follower campaign, beginning on The Commons floor. We stopped by a variety of partner booths, exchanging followers to help push our @msinspireus Twitter handle over 10K followers. And our efforts didn’t stop there. On the final day of our tweetup, we captured partner booth images to share across our social channels.

In the future, we’ll be out on The Commons floor engaging with partners even sooner to facilitate offline engagement with partners that we can nurture and build from online.

2. Community over content

How many of us post content to our social media channels, but don’t authentically engage with our communities? Your community is and should be the heartbeat of your social strategy because no matter how great your content is, it does nothing for the community if you aren’t intentionally engaging with them.

One of our goals at Microsoft Inspire was to be an active member of our online community. We wanted to bring you backstage at The Commons, take you on a walk with us as we explored the US Area Celebration, and connect your content with the whole audience. We shared posts in real-time, engaged partner organization and individual partners, and created a variety of offline moments to connect with our partners in real life.

3. No matter the platform, it’s all about authenticity

Users across all platforms want to see, hear, and read the real you. It’s about getting past the buzzwords and marketing jargon to realize there’s a human voice behind the brand. Users want to be able to relate to that voice, that human element. You can do this by sharing selfies and group photos, using emojis and GIFs, and familiar (yet professional) language tailored to your specific audience.

4. Video is a key content delivery mechanism

Whether it’s live video, short clips, or longer in-depth videos, users are enthusiastically consuming video. Throughout Microsoft Inspire, we posted a variety of video content across our social channels. We went live in the US Lounge and at the US Area Celebration, as well as sharing pre-recorded short clips from The Commons and US Partner team.

The best approach is to think about which type of video fits your audience, and tailor it to what makes sense for your company.

Bonus tip: LinkedIn now offers the ability to publish GIFs and short clips as organic or paid campaign messaging.

Bonus tips

1. Portable battery chargers are a must

If you plan on having a social media manager on-site at an event, a portable battery charger is indispensable. Device batteries deplete quickly when we ensure we’re commenting, liking, and retweeting every post we’re mentioned in.

2. Exchange virtual business cards for a more immediate capture

Physical business cards are awesome. They can display your creative skills and further amplify your professionalism and preparedness. But how many times have you lost, misplaced, or otherwise forgotten to connect with the individual later?

While at Microsoft Inspire, we encouraged partners to trade Twitter and LinkedIn QR codes with us for a more immediate and real-time connection. We also received a handful of business cards on top of exchanging QR codes and have started invited those users to our exclusive partner groups on Yammer and LinkedIn.

3. Create and use event-specific hashtags

We use the main Microsoft Inspire hashtag to boost awareness and engagement in a powerful way. Creating and using a unique event hashtag boosts valuable engagement between host and followers, generates and brings attention to an event, and helps other users find associated event content they can share and/or engage with.


Whether or not you’ve attended a past Microsoft Inspire event, we highly encourage you to attend Microsoft Inspire 2019. Visiting the US Lounge, attending classroom overviews, sitting in on exclusive US-focused sessions, and being able to meet and learn from valuable US partners is a rewarding opportunity everyone should take advantage of.

But don’t just take our word for it!