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Microsoft SO.CL – First Impression

February 3, 2012 1 comment

Today morning while going through my inbox, I checked that I have an invite from Fuse Labs to join so.cl, Microsoft’s new social networking site.  Fuse Labs is  research Labs which works in partnership with product and research teams to ideate, develop, and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home and work.

After the grand success of Facebook , all major internet giants diving themselves more towards social networks. Recently Google came up with its Google+ and now Microsoft joined the league with its  so.cl (Pronounced as social). I too wanted to play around with SO.CL  so in no time, I accepted the invite.

The invite landed me to the home page,  It was very much interesting, I personally somewhat liked the homepage and wanted to dig-in to know more how social is inside.

So.cl not really looked social to me, at its first look. The only way to log in to so.cl was using the Facebook id, there was no other open ids, we could use. No Twitter, no Google nothing else except Facebook. Microsoft no doubt have some soft corner for Facebook, so this was not a surprise. But again as so.cl is in invite only stage possible that the team might add more open id’s later. So.cl is definitely not complicating things and is very simple, a plus from me.

Lets see What so.cl team have to say about this ?

So.cl is not meant to replace existing full-featured search and social networking tools. It is an experimental research project using a minimal set of features which help combine search with the social network for the purpose of learning.

Okay to some extent I believe them, lets wait to see where this experimental project leads to :-), Is it something which is gonna conquer the internet in near future ?

Looks like the war has begun to rule the internet.

Currently so.cl is in invite only stage and not public yet, following the footsteps of Google.  To log in to so.cl two things are mandatory, an invite and a Facebook id. Without both these you can only enjoy the login page.

As I logged in, the interface looked familiar. It was the merger of twitter, Google reader and Facebook etc.  It was allowing the user to follow and get followed by other users, conceptually similar to twitter. The feeds from the users followed by you will be visible to you incase they are public or if it is shared to you privately. Quite similar to Google+ and Google reader, Facebook also is doing it in similar manner. Notification are available with the count at the right hand corner again similar to Google+.  But definitely there was something different apart from all this similarities.

Unlike other social networks, SO.CL says “What are you searching for ?” , you can search in the search box and share the rich contents of the search instantly. You can search for images and so.cl will collage it in a very nice beautiful manner and you can share it to your network or public. This was a unique thing I found and was quite impressed with the same. Sharing pictures, searches, videos looks like the forte of so.cl. It is all about searching and sharing. Whatever you search can be selectively added to your sharing. Wow loved it. All the searches are powered by Bing engine, no other engines can be selected :-(.

Again if you don’t want to search and share, so.cl also encourages you to share “Whats in your mind ?” similar to Facebook.

Video Parties is one unique feature in so.cl, slightly influenced from Google+ Hangout, but its about video sharing and not video chat.  So.cl extends this concept by making it easy to share video parties, with So.cl friends who are online. Video parties let you search, and quickly assemble a list of movies to view together with friends. You can view any existing party collection created by any other So.cl user, or create your own, and easily chat with other So.cl users. Watching videos together is more fun, than watching them alone. Like video parties, wished if there was Music party too.

So.cl also allows you to Tag, comment and Like the posts of your so.cl network. So.cl like button is a cute “verticle” smiley lolz.

Making the posts private & public is very convenient and handled very well by the so.cl team, its just need a single click. Feeds and Activities can be filtered in a very well organized manner. Activities are sub categorized to filter as “Everything”, “status”, “searches” and “parties”. Similarly Feeds are filtered against “Everyone”, “People I follow”, “My conversations” & “Me”. This is again something I personally liked. ,But would wish to have my personalized filter too, something like feeds from my personal list of friends. Lists and groups are definitely an important feature missing here for me. May be SO.CL don’t want social discrimination :-).

But whatever it is, what makes SO.CL different from its peers is its simplicity. Even the settings are minimum, the team have worked really hard to make it simple, great work. Even your profile doesn’t carry much complexity, it only includes your picture imported from FB.

My overall experience with SO.CL was good, I think I will login again.

Categories: Micrososft, Social Tags: ,

Desi Innovation – What are you waiting for ?

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

As the month of February approaches, some of the greatest and biggest end of the season SALE , flood  the Malls with consumers with no place to stand around. And we are not the exceptions to hit the Malls.

It was 26th January yesterday, a very important day for all Indians, as its our Republic Day and off course the biggest end of the season Sale of the year. Everyone in festive & holiday mood.  We ( Sachin, Gurpreet, Sandeep, Jagpreet, Yo Shanky & off course me) targeted  Inorbit Mall, Malad to grasp the best deals of the year. We did a lot of shopping, no doubt about it, but this post is not to list down my shopping items ;-).

After we did our part of shopping, it was the time  for my favorite activity “Pet Pooja”. I am big time foodie. We all rushed to the food court on the top floor. I wanted to have some fresh berry blast , so I ordered from “Dosa Plaza” which was the only stall offering fresh fruit juices. To my amazement when I placed an order,  instead of  handing over the usual bill and the token, the guy at the counter handed over some geeky electronic stuff.

For a while, I was just stunned to figure out, “What the heck is this ?”. I learnt from the counter that the device will blink & buzz, once the order is ready . That was really cool. Its really a pain to wait for your order , stare at the counter to check when my order arrives. This device really a great stuff, stopping all the wait time, you don’t have to stand at the counter waiting for your order to arrive. Just continue your shopping, get busy with your friends and once your order is ready the device will blink & buzz.

These devices are called ” wireless restaurant paging systems”  and are distributed by Long Range Systems

Categories: Social, techbuzz Tags: ,

Understanding the social web for better brand building (B3)

January 24, 2012 8 comments

Understanding the social web

The Social web is complex & Social media tools available to enterprise can be confusing. Social media can definitely drive more traffic than most of the other options of marketing, but only if you do it the right way.

If you look at the past, “word of a mouth” was one of the most popular techniques to market your brand/product. Now years after, I would rather change to decades after, we are actually using the same concept of “word of a mouth” renovated to social web, no doubt this time it reaches the huge masses, beyond our geographical reach.

The way of doing business has changed a lot, If you look at the past it was make my product more better than my competitors, keep a closed approach and just sell my product and leave the customer pissed off. Now the whole approach is changed, business competitors are social now, services are shared to expand business, collaborations done to share the best practices, a better relation is maintained with the customers right from helping them to buy the products to use the products.

According to Hubspot, state of Inbound marketing Report 2011,57% of the B2B companies acquired their customers either from their company blogs or LinkedIn Channels. Facebook and Twitter played a major role too, gaining in 48% & 41% of the customers. Graph below shows the 2010 – 2011 Inbound Marketing report published by hubspot.

It’s really very important to understand the Social media, as you can make a blunder out of it, if you have not used it a right way. Haa!! but that doesn’t mean that you will always approve positive feedbacks/comments on your blogs or social pages. If I see a page with 100% positive comments on a page and millions of likes and no dislikes at all, I will be suspicious, and start thinking that it might be fake. So positive as well as negative comments are equally important, in fact a study reveals that negative marketing have raised the sales for an organisation, I really can’t remember the name, but have gone  through some reading with this case study.

Listed below are some of the social media vendors, which can be effectively used as a tool set for a Social Enterprise.

bit.ly

Around 15,000 users use Bitly and there are 8 billion clicks on Bitly links every month. Bitly is a ULR shortner that can be reliably branded and tracked across platforms from Facebook to Twitter or even an instant message. Track where your link has been visited, this will help you spot your marketing opportunities.

Fliptop

Fliptop is a social intelligence service which turns the email addresses into full social profiles, including public Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn data. Recently its integration with Salesforce, adds Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn data to your leads and contacts, for targeted marketing. Fliptop based on the email address provides every details like Name, Age Range, Gender, Location, Employer, Occupation, Influence Score and all the key Social Networks that person is on.

KLOUT

KLOUT is the standard for influence on the web. The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure

* True Reach: How many people you influence
* Amplification: How much you influence them
* Network Impact: The influence of your network

This will help you leverage the influence of the influential. Who should you ask to review your product? Whose complaint should you prioritize? Who are eligible for your new beta features, before you release it to the masses.

HootSuite

HootSuite is a social media dashboard with 2 million + SME users, including WWF, Pepsi and NBC. HootSuite helps makes your experience on social media more effective, from engagement, analytics, workflow and security to support. Hootsuite provides advanced tools that are focused to businesses so they have a more effective experience on social. One of the best features that HootSuite is well known for is scheduling.

HubSpot

HubSpot need no more introduction, I have already used the HubSpot report in my post. HubSpot is an inbound marketing software gives you one-stop tools from multi-channel analytics to blogging, SEO and social media tools, and marketing automation. Helping you earn quality leads and retain customers by creating marketing that people love.

Sharethrough

The future of marketing is content and not ads. Sharethrough is Google AdWords for video, optimised for sharethrough rates and not clickthrough unlike Adwords. Guarantees views and
maximises sharing of your branded videos. Visuals and videos have always created more impact on customers rather than display ads, this is what Sharethrough is all about, it makes your brand videos seen and shared.

Along with these tools, there are more branding and marketing tools online which can effectively rise your reach among the customers. With social web, the world is very small, increase your reach and amplify.  Signing off  for today !! hope the post is useful.

Categories: Social, techbuzz Tags:

#Google Holiday surprises!!! try ’em all this #christmas

December 23, 2011 1 comment

Google have been always “the favorite” to me as well as most of the internet population with a very little exception when it comes to search and other Google services. Google have always surprised us in some or the other way, may it be its Guitar doodle on Les Paul’s 96th birthday or the easter eggs like “do the barrel roll”.

Missed the Guitar Doodle ? Don’t worry , here’s the Guitar Doodle, and to browse through the whole range of doodle’s, find ’em here.

The Doodle Repository

Its the Christmas season, everyone is in festive mood ! shopping and holidaying, so thought of moving out of my usual topics on my weblog and walk you through some of my favorite Easter eggs that Google have amazed us with.

Do a barrel roll

“Do a barrel roll” created a trend on twitter in November 2011 like “let it snow” in December. Simply Type the phrase in Google, and the screen will tumble around. Similar effects can be seen for “Z or R twice.” Because it was built in HTML5, it doesn’t work on all browsers.Chrome and Mozilla Firefox seems to support it well.

If you have played the classic 1997 Nintendo, these two phrases are not unknown to you.

Let it snow

Search for the phrase “let it snow” and see what happens ? There is an effect of snow falling all around you browser and the screen freezes as if its really cold inside and then the “Defrost” button appears to clear the screen. Amazing haa!! This is the latest surprise this December.

Along with “let it snow”, if you type “christmas”, “santa”, “Hanukkah” you will find the bells, light bulbs string below the search box.

Gravity

Gravity was one of my personal favorite. Enter “Google Gravity” in the search bar & hit “I’m feeling lucky” and see everything falling down due to gravitional force :-). If you have Google Instant enabled, “I’m feeling lucky” will be in right corner while in suggested search results.

Askew

Askew is one such word which will make us tilt our head, the google page is slightly tilted in 5 degree angle.

Recursion

Recursion is for geeks, search for recursion and Google shows “Did you mean recursion ?” making the algorithm recursively search the same word, “Did you mean ?” normally appears for spelling mistakes.

Mentalplex

Mentalplex was started as a April fool joke but is still available at Mentalplex

Pacman

Wanna play “Pacman”, you can get the doodle at Pacman

These are few Google surprises which I experienced, share the ones which I have missed 🙂

Cheers and enjoy the Christmas to the max. Merry Christmas !!

Update : Today’s doodle (24-12-2011)

Todays Google christmas doodle is just awesome with light buttons and animation along with jingle bell music.

#Bottlenose in, to reduce the #social overload !!

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Facebook, twitter streams getting overloaded day by day, the raw data seemingly useful is becoming difficult to handle and useful streams gaining user ignorance leading to be useless. What now ? How to handle so much of raw data and make it useful. Extremely tough task !!

No worries few quick start ups are coming up with high performance apps for sorting and organizing the huge loads of social media feeds.

Bottlenose, the startup with Dolphin mascot is on top of the list which promises to save us from drowning in the social media feeds. Its currently in Beta and is open for networkers with certain KLOUT score and invites. Being a 24 hours tweetaddict gained me enough KLOUT score to gain access to Bottlenose.

Sometimes more is bad, when really more should be good. I remember my good friend, Sudipta Biswal always used to say “Bada hai to behtar hai” (Hindi), but if its too big then “Bada behtar nahi hai, sambhala nahi jata“. Thank god!! to organize the feeds from our ever growing network, there is bottlenose.

Bottlenose has succeeded in creating software that uses natural language processing techniques to parse Facebook and Twitter feeds and learn what content is most interesting to you. Users also can explicitly create categories of content they want to track. The Bottlenose “sonar” user interface displays the topics of posts in your stream like blips on a sonar screen, showing related concepts by their proximity to each other and importance by the size of the nodes in a web of concepts. Most of the software is written in HTML5 and JavaScript, meaning it runs in the Web browser, with the Bottlenose server used to track user account and preference information.

Have a first look of Bottlenose sonar and stream filters for those who have not gained access to it yet.

Categories: Social, techbuzz Tags: ,

Raplet, a whole new way to look at your gmail contacts

This weekend accidentally got introduced to an amazing browser extension, which totally renovates the way to look into our gmail contacts.

Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. It connects to your twitter, linkedin, facebook and many more accounts.

You can immediately see what people look like, where they’re based, and what they do, their tweeter updates, facebook updates, just by opening a mail.For multiple email-ids just hover the mouse on the email-id and the a new raplet will be generated for that id, well its really impressive.You can also record thoughts about the contact for later by leaving notes.

If you’re new to Rapportive, head over to the link, to get set up with this excellent free service http://rapportive.com.

Google has also planted itself on Rapportive’s turf with the launch of its own Gmail People Widget, though People Widget is handy, it pulls in information about the conversations that you’ve had with people previously. But it just lacks that out-of-network information that Rapportive specializes in finding. CEO Rahul Vohra, have really created a rapport amongst techcrowd by his rapportive.

Wooo000h Facebook need no internet now with Airtel

May 18, 2011 2 comments

Amazing !!! something really making me think over moving from my age old Vodafone to Airtel. Since the day I started using mobile phone I am using Vodafone, never thought in my bad dreams to switch the network. I was happy with my Vodafone service. But today when I read this news, an evil thought came in mind murmering in my ears “Dude switch your network, try something new. Number portability have hit the Indian Mobile Networks.”

Though I always say “I hate facebook”, I can’t come out of it now, I am addicted, I am trapped. The facebook widget runs continuosly day and night on my Nexus One eating up lot of my interenet usage.

But thanks to Airtel for its USSD-based Facebook access service in India, one of its kind and first in the entire world. a way to access the facebook without an internet connection. Airtel users will be able to enjoy FB for free, and, for Rs. 1 a day, view/comment/Like news feeds, post on walls, confirm friend requests, find and add friends, and view notifications. Isn’t it a great news for all Facebook fans in India.

What the heck is this USSD ?

USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a session-based communication, unlike SMS, which is transaction-based, it has significantly faster response times, and is more suited for content-based and interactive applications. It functions somewhat like a menu-based browser. The technology is unique to GSM, and is a built-in way to transmit data over signal channels. Airtel’s USSD solution is based on Fonetwish, developed by U2opia Mobile.

“Vodafone yaar kuchh karo aapbhi, other than simply activating my caller tunes, without even asking you for doing so.”

Categories: Facebook, Social Tags: ,
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