A new paradigm for Microsoft:

Microsoft wants marketers to see it in a different light — not only as an ad seller but as a smart company full of geeks who can help it solve business problems. And the tech giant is using social media to prove it can do so.

Today Microsoft is taking the wraps off a new platform called Looking Glass, a social-media aggregator and monitoring tool that’s still in “proof of concept” stage, meaning it’s not yet in the market and will be open to a very small group of testers next month.

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. All of the data collected will connect into Microsoft’s enterprise platforms, such as Outlook and Sharepoint.

Making social media actionable:

What this also means for marketers is how all that social-media information they’re drowning in becomes more actionable.

Here’s how: A marketing manager can get an e-mail alert when there’s a sudden surge of chatter about his or her brand on Twitter or Facebook, along with the sentiment of that chatter and the influence level of those blogging. That information can then be connected to a customer-relationship-management system to decide whether customer service or PR should respond. Or a cable operator’s customer service rep could monitor Twitter for outage reports and send off a repair request straight from the tool. And Looking Glass will hook up to existing customer databases, so a pharmaceutical brand manager would be able to figure out if a person throwing a hissy fit on his blog is an influential doctor or current customer.

Social isn’t a web destination, it’s an attribute and an application on some level. They describe the product as a “bridge between IT and the marketing organization.”

It also logs all activity within the tool so, for example, companies can keep track of who posts to their own Twitter feeds.

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