In social media marketing it never rains but it pours it seems. Only very recently Google broke into the social networking scene with their Google+ alternative to what they saw as Facebook’s unsafe, sloppy and alarming networking solution. And now Microsoft seems to have been peddling furiously in the background, accidentally publishing information about a social networking tool they’ve been working on.

An eagle eyed blogger last week spotted that socl.com had been registered by Microsoft, and that, albeit briefly, a social media platform named Tulalip had been published in an embryonic form. This was quickly removed by Microsoft and swiftly replaced with an apology which suggested that the Tulalip social networking site should not have been published and was just an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research.

Tulalip Social Networking from Microsoft

But the very fact that Microsoft Research has got as far as developing a website and registering the domain suggests that there’s a lot more going on here. The fact that they took their project to the next level, perhaps prematurely, or inadvertently, so soon after the launch of Google+ tends to suggest that they are preparing for an imminent breakthrough into the social networking scene themselves.

It would certainly be interesting to see how a triumvirate of social media platforms from Facebook, Google and Microsoft would be received. It’s pretty obvious that there would be very little interaction between the three platforms. After all, Facebook has always had a very clear policy of locking Google out from crawling their content, making it as inaccessible as possible to the search engine, whilst Google+ has fired several warning shots across the bow at Facebook, attempting to provide what it sees as a solution to the problems created by Facebook.

How will Microsoft enter this social battle? You can bet that if they have any intention of achieving a worthwhile success then it won’t be by meekly launching a platform and enticing people to it with promises of a nice shiny new profile. Shots are to be expected, perhaps in response to what it sees as Google’s failure to capture what people want in response to the failings, or perceived failings of Facebook.

How will this affect social media marketing? Obviously if we have three major social media marketing platforms to use it will inevitably mean that many businesses will have to spend even longer trying to plug in to these opportunities, which may well result in them spending even more time maintaining and updating those profiles. Because there’s unlikely to be any interaction between them it’s also inevitable that there will be much overlap between them all, with content, statuses, updates, links and recommendations duplicated across all three networks. Is that really helpful for people looking for information or recommendations? Is it really helpful as far as pushing the internet on to where we feel it ought to be going?

Personally I think that whilst competition between brands and between social networking sites can be healthy, I also think that it will result in a great deal of confusion for business owners, and a great deal of duplicated work that could well decrease the value of all three platforms. Where that leaves us all is, at this stage, anyone’s guess, but for now it’s worth focussing on the two platforms we have, whilst keeping a very close eye on any twitches coming from the Microsoft camp.

What’s your view on this move from Microsoft? How do you feel having three major networking platforms will work? Leave a comment below to let us know!