Microsoft’s Fuse Labs has unveiled their new social network So.cl, allowing the public in on the site, which has previously only been available to college students. The landing page touts So.cl as “a great place to meet new people chat and have fun”and though that sounds like every other social networking site on the Internet, So.cl is truly different.

So what’s the twist to So.cl?

All “socializing” happens around publicly conducted searches using the Bing search engine.

For a college audience, So.cl makes sense. Ideally, college students could chat and share around searches related to research projects. Realistically, So.cl would be a great way to conduct impromptu road trip research and gather drink recipe ideas.

Users can set their search preferences to private, however this would mean instead of producing searches for other people to comment or riff on (So.cl’s version of sharing) a user would be relegated to trolling other people’s searches to comment upon.

How to get started on So.cl:

Using Facebook connect you can login to So.cl and find any Facebook friends already using So.cl. More than likely, you won’t have that many friends on the site since it is relatively new and you will have to venture out and connect with users.

What is very cool and different than any site is that members of the Microsoft’s Fuse Labs So.cl team are active on the site and connect with new users. They comment, riff and answer questions regarding So.cl features. You may want to follow Fuse Lab’s Steven Ickman or Lili Cheng and look at their followers to find people who are new to the site and perhaps looking to connect.

How to interact with other So.cl users:

So, once you have followed a few people. It’s time to create a post. We all know what post means. We do it all the time. Slap in a link if you want an image, type in something insightful and boom. Done. Right?

Not on So.cl.

On So.cl, posts are made by first conducting a Bing search and selecting several image results to add to your post. Clicking on a ton of images results in a eye-catching collage of images not unlike Pinterest. After being on the site a while, it does seem that posts created with more images get more interaction from other users than do text only or single image posts.

Another way to gain traction for your posts on So.cl is to tag them. If you are a blogger you are familiar with tagging posts in order to enhance SEO. They work much the same way here, except you can not only tag your own posts but the posts of other people as well if you think they should show in search for another topic.

So.cl also offers the unique “riff” feature. Riff means replying to a post with another post. Why would you want to do this? Maybe you wrote a blog post or saw an article that supports or negates someone’s post on So.cl. This is where that whole educational angle pops up again, So.cl doesn’t seem to be designed for just socializing- it is a space for debating and learning (like a more robust Reddit).

Another way to connect and find users who may share topics you are interested n is to join a video party. On So.cl video parties entail users chatting around user posted video content. Not a Google hangout, just chat. For instance, join strangers commenting on a string of  LMFAO video from YouTube and add a video to the party line up.

Will So.cl replace Facebook or Twitter? No, and that doesn’t seem to be the intention here. However, if you enjoy StumbleUpon and Reddit you ought to check out So.cl.

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