Social media in professional services: Learning from Microsoft Germany

by Kirsten Hodgson

At the recent PSMG conference in London, Annabelle Atchison, Social Media Manager at Microsoft Germany, gave a great presentation on her organisation’s approach to social media.

Social media in professional services: Learning from Microsoft Germany

Microsoft Germany manages over 130 social media channels including multiple blogs, Xing groups, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels and Facebook pages.

I love the way the team has developed a coordintated, common-sense approach to social media that empowers employees and is led from the top. This has enabled the organisation to build real communities who provide the Microsoft team with feedback.

How can Professional Services Firms learn from Microsoft Germany’s approach?

Despite Microsoft operating a very different business model from many professional services firms, there were a number of takeaways relevant to professional services firms including:

1. Let employees post to your accounts with their name. They’re your best ambassadors and should be the face of your brand.

2. Have streams from Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook link back to your own properties for in-bound lead generation.

3. Social media must be led from the top. The Microsoft Germany leadership team all have and write (or video) their own internal blogs. These are posted to the intranet, which also contains a micro-blog feed. The Microsoft Germany team live social media internally and lead by example.

4. Enable comments on your blogs. Even Microsoft Germany don’t get many comments but Annabelle made a great point when she said “if you don’t give people the option to comment on something, why have a blog?”

5. Set up a social media council comprising people from across your firm. It’s essential to get these people together to make unified decisions on behalf of the firm. Microsoft Germany’s social media council meets monthly with the social media manager preparing and driving the topics. This is supported by clear guidelines (setting out overall guidance and strategy, topics that affect every area, a call for active participation and a Wiki for easy collaboration) and social media playbooks (guidance and strategy for specific products/topics, social media advice for specific targets and target groups, and design, content and measurement requirements).

6. Implement a key, such as a traffic light system, to let people in your firm know what they can and can’t comment on.

7. Run regular social media sessions. Microsoft Germany run them monthly. They’ve also set up an academy to teach Microsoft Partners and employees how to use social media. This could be a great thing to do for your staff and clients.

8. Make sure you monitor the web. Know if people are talking about you so that you can determine whether and, if so, how to respond.

Annabelle’s presentation highlighted the need to coordinate social media efforts across a firm, to give employees the tools, information, guidelines and training they need to become brand ambassadors, and to get your leadership team on board so that this can be led from the top.

What other things do you think firms need to do to get social media working well for them? 

Do you agree with my takeaways from Annabelle’s presentation? Why/why not? 


Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant
  • Andrew Baird

    Great post Kirsten, I think one of the other key things is that people be themselves. Part of the point of social media is to be social and a real person!