There is very little doubt that one of the most popular categories of websites on the Internet are social networking sites. Of course, not just any social networking site makes the list of most popular, with Twitter (News - Alert) and Facebook currently the reigning kings of this particular genre. It appears that Microsoft (News - Alert) is now trying to get in on the action with the announcement of their own social networking site.
Microsoft is calling their social networking site Socl, though the site is pretty new and there are some indicators that name may not stick for long. One of the daunting tasks that Microsoft is going to have to overcome is the fact that the social networking field is not exactly needing yet another site. Google (News - Alert)+, the other new major social networking site has had some success, but is still having problems of its own stealing users away from Facebook. Microsoft must find a way to set itself aside from other sites.
If Microsoft is working to set itself apart from the other social sites, the appearance of Socl isn't a hint at that. The site takes on the look and feel of both Facebook (News - Alert) and Google+ with the bar at the top and three columns on the page. Of course it’s possible that Microsoft also knows what users are accustomed to and does not want to change that particular aspect.
One feature that could the key to Socl's success is that the right hand column is dedicated to “video parties.” This particular feature is not a situation where you can video chat with your friends, rather it’s a feature that will allow you to actually watch popular videos with your friends on the site. Socl also takes advantage of the desire of social networking sites to keep in touch with their friends in an interesting way.
Instead of just posting a status update, Socl users are encouraged to pose a question that your friends can answer. This makes the social interaction different than the other sites and could be yet another way that the site will get separation from Google+ and Facebook. Of course, Socl hasn't actually been launched yet, and right now there is no timetable, so before we'll know whether it can compete, we'll have to see if it actually hits the street.
Edited by Jennifer Russell