Microsoft Joining The Party! Launch of Social Network So.Cl

By: Andi Barton Finally catch yourself up with the main core of social networks? Well, it is again time to add one more to the list. Despite the buzz in social networking with Facebook's IPO, and Zuckerberg's surprise marriage announcement, Microsoft managed to sneak in under the radar with the launch of their addition to the world of social networking. Microsoft launched "So.Cl" out of beta. A network not intending to mimic any exisiting site, but tapping into a new need of users.

Powered through Micosoft's Bing, So.Cl (pronounced "social") is positioning its new network as an entirely search based social site. It is tapping into the trend of social sharing of links, media, viral content etc. They state on their website they hope to, "encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved."

So, what does this mean for the exisiting dominants like Facebook and Twitter? Microsoft stated they do not intend to directly compete with these social empires. You even sign into So.Cl through Facebook, and your current Facebook info and profile picture are used to create your account. So.Cl is targeted more towards search needs- with students in mind. The sharing of research is where Microsoft hopes to differentiate itself; and they are content with anticipating users using So.cl in addition to their current networks.

Were does its potential lie?

Niche Focus- By entirely focusing on students and their uses for the network associated with school, it is evident that Microsoft wants to tap into an undiscovered realm of social networks. While allowing students to still maintain their current social presence, they may be able to really appeal to this demographic. Users will not feel bombarded by yet another Google+ trying to offer a  Facebook style network to add to their agenda. They are able to use So.Cl for separate academic needs, creating a new ease for their group based research.

 Share-ability of Search (on a personal level)- Yes, Google+ established its social network to stand out with far superior search capabilities. However, where So.Cl differs in that sense is that they hope to bring a new level of social sharing. Users are able to share their search results to feeds and connections. And additionally, similar to the sharing focus of Pinterest, So.Cl allows users to create boards where they can post and share content in a visually appealing way.

The launch of So.Cl is taking us back to the feel of the initial launch of social networking that was entirely academic focused, when Facebook was only introduced at universities. Through this student geared exclusivity, Microsoft may have tapped into a strong potential for focused growth.

What do you think is So.Cl's potential in the world of social networking? Share your thoughts in the comments below!