Keeping track of your online reputation is getting to serious business. Just this week, Seth Godin’s Squidoo launched a service that will let brands filter their online reputation (for a fee). Traackr has launched an online “Authority List” that tracks and identifies thought leaders in the online space. Now Microsoft is getting into the business with LookingGlass. 

But will Microsoft get any traction in the space?

LookingGlass monitors conversations on social media sites, including
Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, so that companies can track consumer
sentiment about their products in real-time.

According to Clickz:

“Interweaving social media data with reporting from other campaign
channels may turn out be Microsoft’s most significant contribution to
the already mature field of social media analytics.”

A few companies will begin testing LookingGlass over the next weeks, with a wider rollout emminent. The product will connect social media feeds with elements like customer databases, CRM centers and sales data within an
organization. Most importantly, it will keep a log of what’s been said. Where, when and by whom.

According to Clickz, Microsoft has found already found real world impact from the service:

“While testing the system during the past nine months, Marty Taylor
Collins, a group marketing manager for Microsoft, said the information
acquired on at least two occasions saved her department from a serious
misstep. First, the tool halted her team’s plan to discontinue an ad
campaign when it helped them discover that a lead character had quietly
become popular. In another instance, a PR disaster was averted during
the beta-test release of Windows 7, after a system crashed just after
launch.”

Getting better data from social media is important for businesses. While sharing in the space is a great thing for brands, tools like Twitter give them more opportunities to listen and learn. But until user generated data can be sifted and sorted, it will continue to be difficult for brands to make big changes. If Microsoft can get a foothold in this space but offering brands more services, it could be very profitable for them as well.

With that in mind, the company is limiting its services to companies that purchase its suite of Microsoft products. That could be a limitation down the road, but Microsoft built LookingGlass purposely to rely on many Microsoft teams —
including ad sales and enterprise sales — to function. As Microsoft group product marketing manager Jamey Tisdale tells AdAge:

“It’s the only way for us to
win.”

That’s not exactly in keeping with the openness of the social web, but a bigger issue in the short term is whether there will be demand for the product. But Microsoft is capable of pouring millions into dominating the social tracking space. Which actually has some people excited. Like Andy Beal, whose company Trackur has a similar product:

“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? ;-)