Microsoft enters the Social World but is So.cl worth it?

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In case you hadn’t already heard, a division of Microsoft Research released their version of the social network recently. It is called So.cl (pronounced “social”) and it is Microsofts attempt at social networking. So my question is – with so many social options out there is it worth signing up to so.cl?

What is So.cl?

So.cl (pronounced “social”) is a different form of social networking site. While it is still really new it does have some impressive features.

For example, the main feed represents ALL activity on the site.

When you first log into the site you get a search box/status update box at the top, along with links to your profile. But what is interesting is the “Explore the best of So.cl” section featured predominantly on the page. They do a really good job of showing you some of the topics you can explore, along with images. It’s very powerful in my opinion.

They also have a “Video Parties” feature which is a way to video chat with different people. Both Google+ and Facebook have similar features but I think So.cl does a better job of promoting them.

When you click the home link (the house beside the search/status box) you are presented with an “Everyone” feed. This feed shows you what other people are searching, exploring or talking about.

If you do a search you are presented with results from the search which you can add to your profile. The search returns results from around the web (such as wikipedia articles, news and more) as well as activity on So.cl from people who also searched and/or commented on your search topic. When you are done looking at a topic you click the “Done” button and go back to the everyone feed.

What I like the most about this site is the cleanliness of it. It is also very dynamic – photos and video stills rotating and changing which adds excitement to the site.

For example, when you go to Google+ or Facebook you are presented with a static timeline – nothing moves, nothing is animated. But here you see, in real time, what people are searching for. One could just sit in front of their computer and stare at the rotating images.

Do you need to be on So.cl?

This is the question every business or search marketer will need to decide. I think if it does grow then the answer is yes. Just like you need a Facebook page for your business and a Google+ profile for your business, and a Twitter account for your business you will also need a So.cl profile.

While none of these necessarily help your search engine optimization efforts, they can help build your brand online and help bring you new customers.

Plus it’s a free way to promote your business so why not add a profile for yourself? First I’d suggest just that. Set up a personal profile and get familiar with the site. You can still post updates about your business from your personal profile, but this way you can learn what works best.

Plus there does not currently appear to be a way to create a profile for your business, but I’m sure they are working on that.

Is So.cl the Facebook killer?

This is hard to determine at this point. I think it has some features that Facebook lacks, but it also doesn’t have the following that Facebook does (yet).

Plus, Microsoft has a lot of history at failing repeatedly at products before getting it right (Remember MSN search? Then Live Search? Now Bing seems to finally be getting it right). Does that mean So.cl will fail? At this point I don’t think so. If they can keep innovating and keep the product fresh and continue to add users then they do have that ability. Only time will tell.

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