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PartnerPulse Builds Social Platform for Microsoft Partners

What can a group of partners together do better than one partner alone? When the goal is to improve visibility with search engines, the answer is to combine social engagement to move higher in rankings.

Group blogs have helped many partners build rankings through combined efforts. And now, a new Microsoft partner community, PartnerPulse, is providing a central platform for partners to benefit from collective social activity.

A Social Approach
PartnerPulse is a directory aimed at helping customers find and connect with Microsoft partners. Users can browse the directory or search by function or competency. Unique to the site, though, is the focus on social interaction as the primary objective.

"Through conversations with other Microsoft partners, I identified a gap in the market for something different from Pinpoint," said Chris Wright, founder of PartnerPulse. "Pinpoint is becoming a destination for apps. PartnerPulse is focused on interaction between the company and someone else. It's about a conversation, not about apps or selling things or downloads."

Microsoft's Pinpoint is clearly the partner directory powerhouse. Wright's intention is not to compete, but to complement. While PartnerPulse does serve as a partner directory, with profile pages and site search capabilities, the purpose of the site is to facilitate conversations.

"The real power of partner profiles comes from our unique 'Pulse' element. This allows visitors to the site to interact right there on the page -- anyone can post to the Pulse," Wright continued. "It could be a simple comment, a rating, pictures, useful links, news -- you name it. The 'Pulse' is an active conversation dedicated to that partner."

Helping Partners Stay Active
In previous posts , partners have noted that fresh content is the key to success on Pinpoint. Finding the time or dedicating the resources to keep that content fresh is an ongoing challenge. Wright recognizes that the prospect of having another site to keep fresh may be an obstacle for partner adoption.

"Fundamentally, we want to make the site really simple to use. It comes back to making it as easy as possible to update the site without having to go to the site," Wright said. "It makes it easy for the partner and also drives unique content."

As a first step, partners can link their Twitter accounts to automatically update company Pulses. Wright's team is working on additional connections for blog posts and other content to automatically post Pulses to a partner's page. Keeping the Pulse feed active should be the top priority for any PartnerPulse user. According to Wright, Pulses are indexed by search engines while Tweets are not.

Results from Membership
While PartnerPulse has not "formally" launched worldwide, U.K. partners have been using and testing out the value of the site for almost a year. Mark Jones, founder of Collaboris, has already seen results from his company's membership.

"We've been on the site from its beginning," Jones said. "We are already getting traffic from PartnerPulse, which is more than we have gotten from Pinpoint in three years. It has proven itself already."

Jones sees PartnerPulse as way to participate in a community without trying to build one on your own. As more prospects want to interact with service providers online before they make a commitment, PartnerPulse provides a central, safe place to have those conversations.   

"We find that people want to interact. PartnerPulse offers all of the social aspects of Facebook," Jones noted. "As it becomes a more dominant force, customers will go to the PartnerPulse directory and communicate with us. It has great potential."

While Wright plans to formally launch the site sometime after this year's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, partners can sign up for a free account now. If you are looking for a way to extend you social engagement, PartnerPulse may be a platform worth checking out.    

How are you connecting with customers online? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on April 25, 2013