Digital Insights

Microsoft Goes Social with ‘’ — So Who Cares?


Published: May 21, 2012

Google+ may be a “ghost town” and Facebook may be futzing around with mobile, but Microsoft still sees gold in the social space.

Microsoft’s “” — pronounced “Social” — is finally and officially here, but is it a brilliant play or another Steve Ballmer (MS CEO) bust?

Socl  (that period isn’t going to last long) is now open for business to one and all Internet users.  The Internet inbound marketing hybrid, which combines social networking, Web browsing and search features, is designed to help people connect with one another and then find and share interesting Web pages.

Socl initially launched at a few college campuses, but now it’s open to the general public, who can login with Facebook or Microsoft Live accounts.

The site shows friends’ searches and interests.  Videos can be watched with friends and profiles can be edited.

Like Twitter, you can choose to follow people.

Like Pinterest, you can choose to follow specific categories.

Socl looks much more like Google+ than Facebook, but has the same feed layout of both social networks.   Socl currently has no way to upload photos, but Microsoft says that’s coming. Instead of “liking” an item, users can smile at others’ posts.  According to the company website:

• combines social networking and search, to help people find and share interesting web pages in the way students do when they work together.

• helps you create rich posts, by assembling montages of visual web content.

•  To encourage interaction and collaboration, provides rich media sharing, and real time sharing of videos via “video parties.”

The site was developed by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs to encourage collaboration and enhance social search for learning purposes. In a report from December 2011, Microsoft asserted the site is not meant to compete with Facebook or search engines, but to allow students to share materials for academic purposes.

“We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools,” noted in its site’s “About” section.

“We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives.”

Well, today school’s out and there’s no summer vacation.

Feeback Critical

For a sense of what people are thinking about, here are some responses from “Water Cooler” readers:

— Neil B on May 21 said:  This is a joke right…????

Federica on May 21 said:  This social network won’t work.  It is the exact copy of Facebook + Pinterest. No added value.  No reason why a user should migrate frome those 2 bigs to this new one. Sorry to say that, but I forecast a disaster.

Shayne O on May 21 said: Quick! Lets canibalize our own investment in facebook!!!!!  Microsoft has officially turned into an old person company , like the IBM it once reviled.

— robertholtz on May 21 said: Wow! Just when I thought Steve Ballmer was out of boneheaded ideas for Microsoft to copy so it can be the #3, #10, or #227 name in the category. = social media AND an online destination — two categories where the company has never done anything but hemorrhage cash. Every chart on this looks like someone pasted it upside-down. But they didn’t!  Mr. Gates, this man has single-handedly destroyed your company. Where it once was the envy of the world, it has become a dog chasing its own tail. I always thought Microsoft’s smartest move in social was its investment in Facebook. With the FB IPO, MSFT could have really flexed it’s muscle and increased it’s position. Instead, Ballmer will undermine yet another key relationship trying to make Microsoft all things to all people. Ballmer has MS competing with everyone that used to be a strategic alliance.  Microsoft: Can Ballmer and return to “Embrace and Extend”… it was the key to your original success and your only way out of this hornet’s nest.

But not everyone is hating on

Jake on May 21 said: Some don’t get it obviously. Microsoft allready owns a big part of Facebook and Socl is an extention. I think it’s a great idea. Also see the part that you can ask friends in a search instead of only search engines.


  1. I think it’s misleading to ask people to “Try It” and then to send them to a wait list. #fail