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!