Social + Content = Happier IT Pros

According to our IT Pro customer feedback the number one dis-satisfier is finding the technical information they need. When they find technical content from Microsoft, they general review it favorably. Finding it is the chief frustration.

I was taught that one strategy for improving performance is to find the chief roadblock or chokepoint to improving your performance, and eliminate it. For example, statistically speaking, the biggest roadblock to mastery of a particular sport is and insufficient number of hours of practice. It is true that after a certain number of hours of practice, you can start to develop bad habits if the practice is not guided by someone more experience, such as a coach. However, this problem only appears some number of hours down the road. Conclusion: the first thing, the most important thing you can do to improve your game is – practice more.

In the world of technical writing, I like to explain to new writers that the laws of supply and demand in economics apply to writing. The scarcity you must learn to manage in order to succeed is – the reader’s attention. It matters not if your piece of technical writing contains diamond-sharp prose or epoch-making insight – IF YOUR AUDIENCE CAN'T FIND IT.

A recent pilot we ran illustrates how social media and technical content can cooperate to help IT Pros find the content they are looking for faster.

The problem: Microsoft support reported that a number of customers were calling for support with the symptom “"Stop: 0x0000001E" Error Message During Setup”. The three most-likely causes for this error are:

  1. Lack of disk space for installation.
  2. Third-party video drivers (and the Windows Win32k.sys driver).
  3. System BIOS incompatibilities.

Further research on a combination of related search engine keyword searches showed over 18,000 global monthly searches. This number was taken as an indicatorof many more customers with this issue that were not *yet* calling Microsoft support. It seemed that few of these searches were finding the existing Microsoft Support KB that addressed the issue, because "STOP 0x1E" is a common bug check code.

The solution: we created some additional content in social media channels, including blogs, Twitter ( and the TechNet wiki to help Hyper-V users direct their attention (the scarce resource, remember?) to the relevant KB *for them*:

 "STOP: 0x0000001a" error message on a computer that has an Intel Westmere processor together with the Hyper-V role installed on Windows Server 2008 or on Windows Server 2008 R2

The result: Microsoft support calls for this issue are no longer on the top of the list, and the same keywords searches are about half (~7,.000). We take that to mean that fewer customers are having this problem and unable to find the fix using search engines.

These are trending metrics, and do not prove causality, however, we are hopeful that they point towards a strategy we can use to help IT Pro customers find the content they need, and thus reduce their number one pain point with our content. What do you think? Leave feedback..