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Microsoft So.clIn a truly expected turn of events, Microsoft has launched what appears to be its own social network. So far, we are not seeing much promise for the network, nor are we seeing much reason for businesses to invest much time in learning it. One thing that we do know, however, is that people like to stay informed of all of the new stuff which pops up on the internet on a daily basis, so we have endeavored to explain precisely why we feel that Microsoft So.cl is a definite “pass” in an online world filled almost exclusively with “must haves” and “maybes.”

1) So.cl is Advertised as “Social Search”… Like Google+
So, Microsoft has this thing called So.cl, and it advertises itself primarily as a social search engine. That is to say, you search in So.cl (yes, that’s pronounced “social,” by the way, in case you weren’t underwhelmed enough) to see what the different people or categories you follow have been looking at. Sort of like how Google+ is integrated into Google.

This might, perhaps, be of mild interest, as So.cl is able to feed in from Facebook as well as itself, but it begs the question: Why would I use it? Facebook does a decent job of managing the goings-on of your friends, and if you want to check in with someone you will typically just go to their Facebook page. Why would someone care what other people are finding when they search for cute puppies? He or she just wants to see some cute puppies, and we don’t think people will care too much whether or not one or more of their friends endorse a particular cute puppy picture.

At least with Google+, the “social search” functionality is seamless with Google Search, and is designed to show personal results alongside non-personal results. So.cl doesn’t seem to have this latter feature, and so seems limited.

2) So.cl is a Google+ and Facebook Clone … Which is Redundant
Remember all of the fanfare which accompanied the Google+ launch? What do you remember as being Google’s primary selling point for the social network? It wasn’t that it was anything particularly out of the ordinary: It was that it was heavily implied that Google+ would affect Google search rankings. To a degree, it did, in fact, as personal results are integrated into non-personal results whenever you are logged into a Google account. Also factor in that Google has a one-account approach, and the truth was that many people have a Google+ account that they have never used, simply because they have a Gmail or other Google-related account.

Google+ itself borrows heavily from Facebook—so much so that sometimes we wonder if there is anything different at all besides the color scheme—and So.cl seems to tap into this same overall design philosophy. However, So.cl doesn’t have any search influence on Bing, so it can’t even hold SEOs like RevBuilders hostage over a So.cl account. Google+ doesn’t differentiate itself enough from Facebook to encourage people to make the switch, so why would a clone have any hope of doing likewise? It’s the opposite of innovation, and we’re pretty sure it’s going to fall flat.

3) No Upload Functionality at Launch
Is this the end of the world? Not really, especially when Microsoft promises that upload functionality is forthcoming. However, it seems like a strange thing to skip on when just about every other social media outlet today has this function. We’re not sure that lacking features that your competitors have is ever the best idea. Sure, there are some situations where it might work: like if the feature is not something which interests your core market, but uploading? Really Microsoft?

4) Follow Categories as Well as People … Like Pinterest
Pinterest has been an interesting entry in the social media industry. Since it is focused primarily on images, the original idea is focused on helping people organize some things which were aesthetically pleasing to them and to create a link-bank which provided more information than traditional bookmarking could in the past. One interesting thing about Pinterest has been the ability to follow not just people on Pinterest, but categories posted by given people on Pinterest. The concept is tested and works pretty well… on Pinterest. However, what made this so effective was that Pinterest had a unique “hook” compared to social media networks like Facebook: Pinterest doesn’t have status updates or anything like that. Rather, it is an exclusively picture-based format: More Flickr than Facebook.

But what is So.cl going to do with this feature? Based on my examination of the service, it is little more than a Facebook clone, and following categories is a superficial addition which does not change this fact.

5) Terms of Service are Difficult to Swallow
Obviously, this would never cause people not to use a social network by itself. We are fairly sure that most people would balk at the Terms of Service for Facebook, but they still use the website. However, So.cl asks users for blanket permission to give user information to third parties. While it may be necessary for the operation of the social network, Microsoft is already seen as a big, evil corporation, and with online privacy being a hot issue right now, So.cl’s draconian privacy policy isn’t likely to do the brand any favors.

So Really, Nothing of Interest Here
In short, So.cl does not offer anything new to the social media game, and does offer some rather concerning hoops to jump through in order to do nothing new. The only possible potential benefit of being on So.cl at this point is if Google decides to rank links on So.cl particularly high. Barring this unlikely circumstance, So.cl is not going to reach a wide enough audience to make it worth the average business’s time.

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Scot Small

Guided by one his favorite songs “The Impossible Dream” Scot is constantly reaching for the unreachable star. It’s this passion for success and achievement that drives him to create success for RevBuilders Marketing and its clients. Scot founded RevBuilders Marketing in 2002 and it provides an integrated approach to SEO, SEM, SMM, web design and marketing automation services. Scot currently serves on the advisory board of the Middleburg Bank. Find him at @scotsmall or @revbuilders