Thursday, December 20, 2012


Loyal Conan O’Brien fans, such as myself, will know this recurring bit, where he predicts the future "in the year 3000” (back in the 90's, it was “in the year 2000”). The predictions would always be hysterically absurd, but this one in particular is not entirely far-fetched. Comical name aside, I think Conan might actually be onto something (not on something).

I believe the adoption of a new, superior social media site is inevitable, given the ever-decreasing attention span of the young digital generation. Lately, I have found myself growing bored of the more traditional social medias for one main reason: the procrastination potential is just too small. Pardon? Yes, I’m saying that Facebook and Twitter simply do not waste enough of my time. However, this was only a recent revelation of mine, and the catalyst was discovering Socl.

Socl (pronounced social) is designed in a way to maximize time-wasting potential. Microsoft really considered user interface, and cherry-picked the best aspects of many social media sites. Described by someone as “pinterest on steroids”, Socl allows users to easily share visually-rich content through posts. Initially an experiment in social search targeted at students, Socl connects people with shared interests through stunning collage-styled posts that require zero creative skill (and seconds) to create. A user can literally spend hours browsing, given the ease of absorbing the visual form of content (unlike Facebook and Twitter, which often have articles and more effort-consuming material).

People can be followed (similarly to twitter), however posts can also be tagged to reflect content, so that specific interests (more general than hashtags) can also be followed. This allows users to search by topic and find endless material from all users, bypassing Facebook and Twitter's limitation in time-wasting, being restricted to content posted only by your personal network.

How does time-wasting potential relate to advertising? Well, the longer consumers spend on a website, the greater the chance of exposure to a brand featured on it. Also, with sites such as Facebook and Twitter, consumers will only see posts from a brand if they “like” it or are following it. Posting communications on a search-based site provides an even greater chance of exposure, since consumers might stumble onto marketers' targeted content, that is indistinguishable from other content (unlike targeted Facebook ads, which most users still ignore).

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Facebook and Twitter, and they both serve their purpose in allowing consumers to participate and interact with brands. They are especially useful for brand-loyal consumers that want to stay connected to their favourite companies. However, there is incredible marketing potential in Socl for the future. For example, a car enthusiast following the "car" interest is likely to derive value from well-crafted posts highlighting specs and features of a new car model from numerous manufacturers. Marketers have the opportunity to provide value to their target consumer by entertaining them with visually appealing posts (including pictures, videos, and gifs), and doing so without blatantly exposing them to an ad.

Socl is still quite young, but I believe that companies will soon realize its potential. I also believe that the simplicity of Socl's interface is likely to fuel the adoption of this platform among users, providing a hot new tool for advertisers.

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