Socl, Microsoft’s new social media site has opened its doors to anyone with a Microsoft or Facebook account. The site was initially launched in May, but only to a few select beta users. The Internet is abuzz with speculation about whether or not Socl will be able to compete with existing networks and what exactly the new site’s role will be in the world of online networking.
Whether Socl will become one of the big players in social media remains to be seen, but now that anyone can login and test the waters, the site will likely see some rapid growth in the coming months. As new users begin using Socl, brands will likely follow, looking for ways to connect with their audiences and promote their businesses.
What It’s All About
The main page of Socl, or the news feed, looks a lot like Pinterest, except it includes status updates, photos and video. The Pinterest layout has become wildly popular with blog themes and other websites, so it’s no surprise that the tiled-image look is being carried over into new social networks.
Posting to Socl is much different than posting to other social networks. Like other networks, users can add a post title and a caption as well as images, videos and links to outside content. But, this is where the similarities end.
After adding a title and caption, users can type keywords or topics into a search bar (powered by Bing), toggle between web results, images, videos and news, and then select content to add to their post. As users click on search results, the images, videos or links are added to the post in a grid format, creating a very visual post. In fact, users are encouraged to create posts based on a topic and existing content, as the post button has users type a topic, rather than a status update, to start the posting process.When creating a post, users can type in keywords or topics, then select content from Bing search results to add to their post.
Most social networks allow users to share all kinds of media, but Socl stands out from the crowd because it lets users combine several pieces of media and personal comments in a whole new way to create content-rich posts.
Another way Socl stands out is by the mere fact that it lets users post links to their other social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr. Users can also include a link to a personal website or blog. This (along with the fact that users can login with Facebook) seems to signal that Socl doesn’t see itself as a competitor to these other channels, but as another way for people to connect online, using existing content and channels.
Socl takes a page from Pinterest’s book by letting users follow certain interests, allowing them to view a news feed full of content with specific tags, as shared by other users. Users can also add a Socl bookmarklet to their browser, making it easy to share content to Socl while browsing the Internet.Users can follow interests to see a feed of content tagged in specific areas by other users.
The combination of being able to follow your real-life and online friends as well as specific interests makes Socl a unique social media channel. Users aren’t constrained by what their friends share, but are still able to connect with their friends to share updates and media. In fact, people may end up using Socl as a way to browse news stories and Internet content, rather than a way to stay in touch with friends.
Because much of the sharing on Socl relies so heavily on Bing, there may be a shift in the search engine optimisation industry. Where Google was once the king of search engines, SEO professionals may begin to pay closer attention to Bing rankings in an effort to make it more likely that their company’s content gets shared more frequently on the new network.
In line with the current trend of making content visually appealing, Socl focuses heavily on the look of a post. Businesses may see the need to produce more visually appealing content like pictures, videos and infographics. This type of content already gets more action on other social media sites, but with the visual focus of Socl, visual content may become even more important.
Of course, many social networks have come and gone over the past several years. Many, like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have almost become staples in Internet users’ lives, but others haven’t been able to gain much traction. As Socl gains more users, brands find ways to leverage its power and people find new ways to use the site, Socl will find its niche and time will tell if it’s here to stay.