Redditor claims MS employees monitoring Reddit; making positive posts about the Xbox1

May 20, 2012

Just thought I'd share something interesting that happened to me this week. I work for a marketing firm in Redmond that has a contract with Microsoft. I can't say specifically which division, but suffice to say we are not involved with the Xbox.

We had a pretty large meeting this week at one of the offices off 31st and, because this was the first time we had visited the Microsoft complex, we got a tour of some of the buildings. It's a quite amazing place. We won't the only visitors either; there were contractors from quite a number of other firms visiting, and presumably meeting to discuss projects related to our own.

We had a semi-formal meeting in one of the larger meeting rooms, followed by lunch and some more touring. In some of the buildings they have offices for a whole range of different divisions all mixed together (e.g. I saw Skype offices, Windows Phone offices and more all in just one building). At one point we visited one of the Xbox offices, and our guide went off to find a particular manager for us to meet. He was gone for a while, so we were left hanging in the middle of a fairly hectic office for several minutes.

While we were waiting, various marketing employees said hello to us/shook our hands - it was a pretty friendly place. Just nearby were two guys chatting at one of their PCs, and they caught my attention because they were on Reddit! I thought that was pretty cool, and presumed they were having a late lunch break and were just goofing around online. I kind-of started to eavesdrop (I honestly couldn't help it, they were talking about Reddit!) and realized they were actually talking business. One of the exchanges went like this:
"I got a few more on pics and some of the smaller subs"
"Honestly just don't bother I think, stay focused on gaming. We really should be spending 90% of our time there." [Note: I presume they were referring to /r/pics and /r/gaming]

His coworker went back to his own computer, and he continued Redditing while we waited. He must've really been hyped up on caffeine or something, because his typing was like a machine gun and he was switching tabs like crazy (or maybe that's just because Microsoft hires the 'hacker' type of guys?) Anyway I noticed he was mass-downvoting a ton of posts and comments, and he kept switching to other tabs to make posts and comments of his own.

I couldn't make out exactly what he was posting, but I presumed he was doing RM (reputation management) and asked my boss about it later. According to my boss, MS have just brought in a huge sweep of SMM managers to handle reputation management for the Xbox One. If you're unfamiliar with reputation management (, it is basically what it sounds like.

Social media managers doing RM focus on providing positive posts, likes and shares to promote the brand on social media sites and forums - usually posing as the 'happy customer' archetype through a multitude of accounts. In the last year or so, Reddit has become more and more important to an overall RM strategy.

It also often involves 'debunking' people who make negative or critical comments about the brand online. I've done this myself for numerous clients before (even on Reddit once, sorry!). It is fairly standard procedure, although usually not so much for huge companies like Microsoft. I don't know why such a huge company needs to devote energy to this, because their brand is already extraordinarly well-known. But in any case, they seem to be putting a BIG focus on it for the Xbox One. Not only in-house; they're also dishing out the big bucks for some pretty high-profile marketing firms to do the work for them. Reddit will absolutely be a part of that strategy, and the couple of guys I saw were probably just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm a fairly die-hard gamer and Redditor who frequents this sub a lot. After seeing all the massive debates about the Xbox lately, I thought you guys would probably find that little morsel to be interesting. There's a good chance that many of the positive posts/comments we're seeing about the Xbox One have been posted by employees from one of those marketing firms. It's fairly standard to diss your competitors too, so I'm guessing some of the negative posts about it might even be from Sony. That's just a hypothesis, though it wouldn't be the first time a seeming-crapstorm among "Redditors" was actually just a proxy war between marketing employees.
One such employee doing just that, apparently.
Nov 3, 2006
yeah, definitely a known thing. I'm sure Nintendo and Sony are doing this as well (not to mention EA,Activision, etc) but this has been a goddamn flood.

The more exposure and push back this gets, the better.


Jun 20, 2009
I don't care.

MS is a company with a lot of money and a lot of money to spend on advertisements. if they're not violating the reddit TOS... who cares?
Jan 22, 2010
I would assume that other companies with the money do this to an extent. Much like the fake applauds during their conferences (Sony, Microsoft, not sure about Nintendo)


Oct 2, 2009
What's the point? They're not going to change people's opinios just by trying to limit the amount of negative press.
Mar 1, 2011
But the Xbox One truly is a remarkable piece of hardware. Ask me anything, what would you like to know? I'm all ears.

I'm not a Microsoft employee

No really, I'm serious

Trust me, that was a joke and I think Xbox One is a piece of shit
Feb 7, 2012

That money could be going into better game development. But instead it is going into trying to sway the masses into buying their shit-riddled DRM box.
Dec 28, 2005
I don't care.

MS is a company with a lot of money and a lot of money to spend on advertisements. if they're not violating the reddit TOS... who cares?
Infiltrating and trying to influence social media by pushing a corporate message is deceptive and screams of desperation. You should care.


Wildcard berths that can't beat teams without a winning record should have homefield advantage
Jul 31, 2007
Not surprising. We've seen it here for weeks.

Despicable, though. Absolutely despicable.

Deadly Cyclone

Pride of Iowa State
Apr 24, 2008
Don't all companies do this? I mean they have paid social media people. What better way than to post on Twitter/FB/Reddit/etc. and try to make your product look good.

Not saying it isn't kind of sketchy, but I think more than just MS do this.