What's New in Microsoft Social Engagement & CRM Integration

With integrated social marketing predicted to be one of the main trends for 2016 it’s no surprise that Microsoft has extended the capabilities of its Social Engagement platform and shared details of more exciting releases in the coming months.

If you’re not familiar with Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE), as the name suggests this is a social intelligence and engagement tool that provides insights about the topics you care about by listening to what people are saying across social media. From brand sentiment to a detailed analysis of individual posts, MSE helps businesses learn about their social audience and make positive interactions across these channels.

In a recent post we demonstrated how Microsoft Social Engagement tracks and reports social activity across selected accounts, hashtags and other keywords, and how users can act on this insight.

We’ll now focus its CRM integration to demonstrate how MSE not only listens across social channels but also how it helps organisations be responsive to these conversations.

But let’s start with some recent enhancements in Microsoft’s latest Social Engagement update...

Author Detail

Gain more insight about the people who are posting by clicking any tracked Twitter post in Microsoft Social Engagement to view author information.

This includes a calculation of their reach which represents a 1-5 scale calculated by Microsoft to weigh the impact of an author’s tweets with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest reach.


Further detail from an account's Twitter profile is shown including their description, location, number of followers, examples of recent hashtags they have used as well as their recent post timeline.

Publish Posts & Attach Images

The ability to reply to social posts from MSE is well established but previously there wasn’t a function to publish new posts on your own social accounts from this interface.

Recent updates have now added this functionality which also includes attaching image files (supports .jpg, .png & .gif files).


Extend Coverage with Custom RSS Sources

Previous releases of Microsoft Social Engagement only picked up limited blog feeds including Wordpress sites.

With the latest update you can listen more widely by adding custom RSS feeds to include all the blogs and news channels that matter in your market.

In the example shown below a Microsoft Social Engagement search has been set to pick up interactions on the RSS feed for an organisation's blog as well as their Twitter account:


Converting Posts into CRM Actions

Imagine that Microsoft Social Engagement has highlighted a post because an individual has raised a service issue.

Thanks to the recent Social Engagement improvements this item can now be converted into a CRM case and resolved within Microsoft Dynamics using its native service management tools.

A Twitter user has commented that he is looking for a specific document that we know that our service team can supply. To route this to them, click the link to CRM button:


In this example, Microsoft Social Engagement has already be configured with a CRM database so the CRM instance field reflects this.

Based on this comment the post will be converted as a CRM case so the incident item has been selected.

By selecting ‘Create’ this item will be linked to a new CRM Case record.

The CRM case record is then opened and the accompanying Tweet has been automatically attached to the activity history. The issue can now be resolved by the service team using the defined guided process flow in Microsoft Dynamics.

For this example CRM has also linked the case to a new contact record.


Microsoft Social Engagement also helps teams be responsive when new opportunities are identified.

A tweet with negative sentiment has been identified from an individual commenting about migrating from a competitor solution.

The social engagement user recognises this is a conversation which their sales colleagues can progress by offering the individual a preference deal to switch now. They’ll reply to the tweet now and alert the sales team by creating a CRM lead record:

Once this has been done the post is updated to include a direct link to the new CRM lead:


Clicking this icon opens up the lead record which includes a link to the original social post:


Managing Social Streams

At this stage you might be wondering how you can plough through thousands of posts every day to find examples like this?

The answer can be found in the MSE Social Center.

If you are tracking different types of social traffic, for example, your own brand, top competitors, key accounts and industry sources the MSE Social Centre is where you'll manage these channels.

As well as publishing new social posts this screen is customised to reflect each social channel you want to monitor.


Within these customisable views Social Engagement users can reply to posts, retweet, mark posts as favourites, link posts to CRM, assign items to users and apply labels.

Each channel can be filtered using multiple criteria including keywords, sentiment score, reach value, location and source.

Filters also include criteria to adjust views based on posts linked or not linked to CRM to precise show the social traffic that you want to work with:


Social Alerts

Another way in which MSE helps organisations be responsive and cut through social noise to find posts that need urgent attention is to apply service alerts which notify individuals and teams when triggers are activated.

The wide diversity of data that Microsoft Social Engagement tracks can be applied to highlight critical posts.

In a similar way to designing a customised social streams MSE enables service alerts to be set using your own criteria.

The screenshot below shows a new social alert has been configured to send an email notification when a series of rules are matched:


Firstly, a data source is selected which reflects one of the defined search topics in Microsoft Social Engagement. In this example a company has grouped together its main competitors and selected this as a single search topic.

To complete this query a combination of social engagement filters can be applied. For example, this could include:

  • Sentiment – posts with negative sentiment
  • Location – posts originating from a defined country
  • Post type – to exclude replies
  • Sources – posts from defined custom RSS blog sources & Twitter only
  • Keyword – entries features one or more defined keywords
  • Reach – how influential the author is (Twitter & News items only)

Social Engagement & CRM Licensing

So what is needed to access all this great functionality?

There are two licences of Microsoft Social Engagement.

MSE Professional licences include most of the functionality including dashboards, the social centre (up to 2 streams), custom sources and social alerts. This tracks up to as many as 10,000 tracked posts per month with extra capacity available for an incremental cost.

MSE Professional licences are included in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Professional for 10+ users, or this can be purchased separately.

The MSE Enterprise licence has the full functionality and is required for CRM linking, this also include capacity for unlimited social streams, sharing streams and assigning posts. In line with the Professional licence this also tracks up to 10,000 posts per month.

MSE Enterprise licences are included with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise licence, or can be purchased separately.

Further Updates Coming Soon...

Microsoft has shared examples of two additional improvements that will shortly be added to MSE:

Automation Rules - set rules in Microsoft Social Engagement that will automatically link posts to CRM and create new leads or cases / incidents.

In a similar way to how filters are used to personalise social streams as shown above, keywords and other criteria can be applied to automatically route matching posts to CRM for immediate attention.

Intention Analysis - automatic grading of customer intent based on the content of their posts.

Using machine learning and adaptive sentiment controls Microsoft Social Engagement already reports the sentiment value on each post. New intention analysis will use similar techniques to make predictive assessments of an individual's intent.

For example, depending on the type of organisation customisable intention tags could be applied to represent 'request for information', 'purchase', 'complaint' and other grades of intent.

Rather than manually attempting to scan through numerous social posts searching to potential opportunities or service issues new intention analysis will offer another means to filter data using social streams, social alerts and automation alerts.

If you'd like to find out more about Microsoft Social Engagement please contact Preact to arrange a demonstration and join our mailing list to keep up to date with the latest Microsoft releases.