Innovating the Use of Social Media with Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011

Tracking the online activity around topics, keywords, and / or brands is an essential piece to understand the who, what, where, when, why and how’s surrounding campaigns, conferences, product launches and events. By understanding online activity companies, organizations and brands can develop a structured strategy to build their community, effectively spread their message to their target demographics, increase their Search Engine Optimization, leverage user generated content, empower evangelists and much more.

Now in it’s tenth year, Microsoft Imagine Cup has been a global force to motivate the brightest young minds in the world to solve the biggest problems humanity faces by using technology. Watch the CNN coverage before the 2011 New York City World Finals.

Last year, Tenacious Ventures, along with the Microsoft team, managed the Microsoft Imagine Cup corporate social media Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts during the 2010 Poland World Finals. Tenacious Ventures also submited an online analytics report to map out what happened online before, during and after the 2010 Imagine Cup World Finals.  From the Analytics and on the ground experience some problems surfaced that could be addressed in 2011:


  • Trying to keep up with the tens of thousands of public posts online with one, centralized, corporate social media system was a very challenging and difficult thing to do.
  • Language barriers arose while interacting with all of the nations following the teams competing therefore limiting the virtual conversation to primarily english.
  • The difficulty of tracking and reporting on each competing team’s breaking events, answering questions and comments from all of the student competitors, parents, friends etc… all overwhelm a centralized system.


For Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 we launched a tagging, training and online tracking program for a team of 25 Microsoft Student Partners who were flown to New York City for the World Finals to be part for the first ever Microsoft Student Partner Social Media Team. Their role was to use the interactive and reporting powers of social media to shine a virtual light on the international teams they were assigned to.

This team was launched to cover the unfolding story that surrounded the teams competing in the largest and most world changing developer competition in the world. With a diversified team of reporters the online interactions could be localized using a combination of english and the teams native language. Meanwhile the corporate accounts reported on high level events around Imagine Cup and syndicated the posts from the social media team, students and other pertinent content.


From the graph below we see that the Microsoft Student Partner Social Media Team (MSPSMT) accounted for 20.4% of the posts mentioning Imagine Cup during the period between May 29th through July 16th 2011. When this activity is compared to the posts around the 2010 competition we see that there was a 184.7% increase in posting overall. This increase was likely influenced by both, a higher adoption of social media and the presence of the MSPSMT.

Tenacious Ventures Report Imagine Cup 2011 Overall Content

From a regional perspective we saw a majority of the public Imagine Cup posts (58%) as well as the MSPSMT(52.7%) posts occur in the USA.

Tenacious Ventures Report ImagineCup Regions

In 2010 61% of all posts were from the USA. For 2011 there were only 58% that were from the USA. With the 2011 Imagine Cup being hosted in the USA it’s amazing the number went down. This shows an increase in social media use in other nations around the world. Like before, this can be explained by further social media adoption along with the presence of the MSPSMT.

When we look deeper at the overall posts from the public mentions of Imagine Cup we see that 88.6% of posts are from facebook and twitter while the core content (Blogs, images, videos) makes up 8.2% of the total posts. This signals a focus on communication and conversation from the public as is typical for the public who takes on more of a content consumer and sharing role.

Tenacious Ventures Report: Imagine Cup 2011 Overall Mentions

When looking at the MSPSMT content numbers we see that there is 74.1% of posts from facebook and twitter with core content posts at 25.9% of total posts. This shows a heavier focus on core content creation with a bulk of it (22.7%) being images taken during the event.
Tenacious Ventures Report MSPSMT Overall

By viewing the MSPSMT posts by team member we can see how each students activity ramped up over time leading up to when they were flown into New York City July 8-13th. Note that the MSP’s names have been removed for privacy purposes.
Tenacious Ventures Report MSPSMT Teams Members
We can then see the amount of Views, Likes and Interactions for content posted May 29th to July 16th. Note that 77% of the content was posted during the event (July 8th through July 13th) and so respectively, the data more accurately represents the amount of activity generated during that time period of time.

Tenacious Ventures MSPSMT Views

With the Microsoft Social Media team of 25, we improved upon the goals set from the 2010 Microsoft Imagine Cup report by:

  • Expanding coverage of the competing teams
  • Bridging the language barrier
  • Expanding the reach of posted content to other countries
  • Increased overall amount of content being shared
  • Further built a community of technology evangelists between the Microsoft Student Partners, student competitors, peer groups, and general public by using the Social Media Team as a communication catalyst

This post and report was done by:

Colin Christianson
Colin Christianson, Founder & CEO, Tenacious Ventures

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