Posted September 24, 2009 8:57 am by with 13 comments

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Microsoft is building a social media monitoring tool called Looking Glass.

Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking that I’m panicking. After all, isn’t that what my own company, Trackur, does? Aren’t I scared stiff that Microsoft will hurt my business?

Nope. In fact, when I spoke to Microsoft executives in 2008, I asked them why they didn’t already have a tool like this? If I can build Trackur, shame on Microsoft for not having its own offering.

Am I insane? Possibly, but for different reasons. Let’s explore this announcement.

The idea is to connect social-media-monitoring tools to the rest of a marketer’s organization — customer databases, work orders, customer-service centers and sales data. Looking Glass will pull in a variety of feeds from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr and work with third-party data sources as well (the folks behind it have already talked to some firms such as Meteor Solutions and Telligent). All of the data collected will connect into Microsoft’s enterprise platforms, such as Outlook and Sharepoint.

If you read the entire Ad Age article, it becomes clear that Looking Glass will be tightly integrated with other Microsoft products–a feature that will delight some and completely repel others. In addition, there’s no news on how much Microsoft will charge for Looking Glass–will it be free or come with a hefty licensing fee.

Either way, I’m actually excited that Microsoft is getting into this space. They have many more dollars to throw into advertising and awareness campaigns. Let them spend the millions of dollars that are needed to convince businesses they need to monitor the web. Not all of those potential customers will feel comfortable with Microsoft, its platform, or its pricing, and so they’ll likely compare Trackur as an alternative. What is it they say about a rising tide? 😉

In fact, Visible Technologies has more to lose than Trackur–Microsoft currently pays them a hefty fee to use their social media measuring technology. I suspect, we’ll see that relationship come to an end at some point.

OK, but Andy. What if Microsoft offers Looking Glass for free?

So what? When Google rolled out Google Analytics for free, many suspected it would be the death knell for other analytics firms that charge for their product. There are 1.8 billion reasons why those fears didn’t materialize.

Personally, I expect Microsoft’s entry to the space to be a wake up call for its mid-size competitors. Do they build a competing social media measurement product or acquire existing technology? If it’s the latter, they know where to find me! 🙂


  • I am appreciative of your attitude here. If anything, it further validates this industry to the mainstream. Now, those of us who work in ORM will have to work harder to educate stubborn clients that they cannot just “find social media problem” and “squash social media problem with C&D Letter from Legal Department” …

    As you elude to, the nice thing about Social Media Monitoring is that more companies will realize that a) there is a potential issues and b) the only way to manage such issues is by becoming more authentic, active and unselfish in the social networks.
    .-= Scott Clark´s last blog ..Google SideWiki – A New ORM Opportunity (or Risk?) =-.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Scott. As for my attitude, the alternative was to curl up in a ball and whimper. 😉

  • That’s the winning attitude for sure =)
    Thumbs up! Just tested Trackur and it rocks!

  • I don’t really see this being a threat to Trackur or other social media monitoring companies. If it was stand alone and could be used like Trackur or a Google Alerts hybrid then I could see companies getting scared but from what I am reading it will be a product that gets rare use as you must integrate it with obsolete Microsoft products to be of any use.
    .-= Brennan´s last blog ..How To Remove Your Home From Google Street View =-.

  • It will be interesting to see what “Looking Glass” shapes up to be, but agree with your approach of welcoming it. I have little doubt it will be painfully slow, a resource hog and likely cause the Social Web to collapse in a million blue screens of death…OK, sarcasm aside, I welcome it.

    With our mediasphere360 we’re just one of many monitoring tools; but each of us has a slightly different approach and falvour. My problem with Microsoft is that it will likely place results within Bing before other consumer search engines.

    Very few monitoring tools, less than 3% use their own search algorithms independent of Google et al. Will Microsoft take a similar approach? Likely not.

    Interested to see what rolls out. Thanks for the post.
    .-= Giles (Webconomist)´s last blog ..Why Search Engines Aren’t Media Monitoring Tools =-.

  • Bing has been out for a while now and it has shown it can do the search thing. The question is where is it going from here?

  • Andy,

    With you on space validation. The MSFT marketing and customer services folks have been involved in community and community interaction since before the space was called social media. Sharepoint is community collaboration software yet there are many vendors like Lithium, Telligent, etc that all very successful in that space. We will have to see how it evolves or if they ask partners/vendors they presently work with to contribute enriched data to the platform. Still to early to tell. One thing that got me thinking is what about Facebook data since they have an ownership stake Facebook


    • Yeah, if MSFT can’t get accurate Facebook data, none of us can! 😉

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