This week's launch of Microsoft's Socl app does little to help the crowded social scene. Just how many social media icons constitute too many for a site designer or visitor to stomach?
Sites are starting to look a little crowded with Microsoft's Socl icon joining the likes of Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Pinterest and others demanding space next to posts or on stores, at the top of sites and on advertisements or campaigns.
Are Our Sites Becoming Overly Social
Just weeks after BlackBerry's launch of the Channels social feature for its Messenger app, along comes Microsoft with Socl for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The social service has spent over a year in development and beta on the PC, before becoming the latest app from Microsoft.
Which leaves marketers, social media managers and site designers with a couple more boxes to tick, more web engagement angles to cover, and more services to cram in. On the plus side, time is on their side as the modest uptake and interest for both services suggests no urgency to bolt these into their own websites or social media strategies.
First impressions aren't that hot either with IT World calling it "half-baked and jumbled," while others seem rather confused. But as Microsoft evolves the product, there's clearly scope for some useful features and there's no one like MS to throw money at a project until it works.
However, preparing a strategy now will prepare your company should either Channels, Socl or another contender develop a groundswell of use and support that makes it the next essential social media service. If Microsoft tries to weave its products and users together via Socl, perhaps with Skype, Yammer or Internet Explorer integration, it could become a contender in the social market.
What Is Socl? How do You Use It?
Before deciding on how to use the service, it is essential to understand Socl a little more. See our first look for more detail. A quick impression suggests that Socl appears rather Pinterest-esque, allowing users to create visual libraries of interesting imagery, links and content from across the web. It links with other social sites like Facebook to make access and cross-pollination easier.
The theme of collections could make it ideal for smaller businesses to bring customers together via interests in their products, especially any business with objects worth collecting or of desire. Any business that has worked with Pinterest could adapt its strategy for Socl, so expect to see visually stimulating products like the 2015 Ford Mustang garnering a lot of interest, or smaller collectibles like ranges of toys, models, memorabilia or similar themes.
Socl also offers video parties, with Microsoft offering Hour of Code development tutorials, but any user can add a video and chat about topics of interest. That has potential for businesses offering video guides, product reviews and so on. Finally Blink and Kodu allow short video clips or games to be created, which could find niche uses as promotional activity.
Socl can help business find and spread information, and connect with those with similar interests
If a business lacks lots of pretty pictures, then lists of content, articles, reference materials and others could draw in more knowledge-focused users. Services like Socl are good places to repurpose existing or evergreen material in a collection, where users won't expect all new content.
Naturally, in these early weeks, Socl is a product trying to gather interest, but even in its nascent stage is something that marketers should investigate to see how they could benefit from its features if it becomes a go-to social location for your audience.