Second Life used to promote Visual Studio's features

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft and its marketing partners have launched a social media campaign to promote its Visual Studio product to Web developers.

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft and its marketing partners have launched a social media campaign to promote its Visual Studio product to Web developers.

The effort, launched late last month as part of the mostly online, global "Defy All Challenges" campaign, includes a Second Life developer's community and streaming ads that use video game metaphors to show developers how Visual Studio can be useful in solving technical problems, said Prashant Sridharan, product manager for Visual Studio at Microsoft. The eight-figure budget also included print and online outreach.

The Second Life initiative drew users to a virtual island called "Visual Studio" and directed them through a series of Visual Studio-related logic puzzles, said Reuben Steiger, CEO of Millions of Us, the social media agency that is handling the Second Life component.  Sixty users completed all ten puzzles, and were awarded a plot of land on the island. The event was promoted through blogs and targeted e-mails, he added.

Most Web developers are already familiar with Visual Studio, so the campaign's goal is to raise awareness about the product's features and applications, Sridharan said.

In addition to extending the Visual Studio brand, Steiger said the objective was to translate the goodwill the user feels from excelling at the game to Microsoft.

"The end result has been the formation of this community that is very interested in Microsoft and very evangelical about what they're doing," he noted.

The campaign's next stage will coincide with Visual Studio's new product launch. Visual Studio 2008 is set for release later this year, and the next phase of "Defy All Challenges" will launch in early 2008, he said.

McCann Erickson's San Francisco office is leading the "Defy All Challenges" campaign.

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