Yahoo Answers Adds Social Networking

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Yahoo Answers, the question & answer social media exchange, has become a success for Yahoo, bringing the phenomena of social knowledge sharing to over 90 million worldwide Yahoo Answers users.

Now Yahoo has taken Yahoo Answers to the next level, adding Social Networking capability to the Yahoo Answers interface, where users can connect and ‘make friends’ with other Yahoo Answers members who share similar interests and backgrounds, Answers Network (BETA).

This video explains in detail the Answers Network:

International Social Network of 90 Million Users

Yahoo Answers, with the ‘flick of a switch’, has now become the Answers Network and in terms of social network size, is now one of the largest social networks online. Yes, Yahoo Answers now rivals MySpace and Facebook in terms of International reach and active member numbers.

But size is not all the Answers Network is about, it’s about niche social networking and in the tradition of other Yahoo social properties like MyBlogLog, Flickr’s “Contacts” and del.icio.us’ “Your Network”, the Yahoo! Answers Network Beta is working to enhance the overall user experience by helping people connect to the information they care about most through others with similar interests.

There is also nothing like Yahoo Answers on the social networking scene as Answers Network isabout sharing of original knowledge and not the sharing of news or information from external sites.

Digg.com is nothing like it, and the closest network I feel that has similarities to Yahoo Answers Network is StumbleUpon, as Yahoo Answers is built upon sharing knowledge and information and StumbleUpon is about sharing web sites and online info.

“Knowledge networking in Yahoo! Answers combines the power of the world’s knowledge with the trust and context of personal communities,” said Tomi Poutanen, senior director of product management for Yahoo! social search. “Knowledge networks make Yahoo! Answers a more personal, productive and interesting experience by directly connecting users to the information and people that are most interesting to them.”

Once Yahoo Answers users take advantage of the social networking they can keep track of the questions their friends asked, answered and ‘starred’ (a Yahoo Star means an answer was voted for being of quality, kind of like a Thumbs Up, a Digg or Del.icio.us Vote).

Aspects of the Yahoo Answers Network:

Profile Pages : Similar to StumbleUpon, Yahoo Answers Network profile pages have your basic information and interests while also listing your friends and contacts in Yahoo Answers. Contacts are categorized via My Contacts and My Fans.

Updates : On the Yahoo Answers homepage, users will now be updated when others in their network ask and answer questions. These updates are categorized by Questions, Answers, and Stars.

Opt Out : If you do not want to join the social network you do not have to, users can go to the Edit My Info screen and uncheck the box that says “Allow other people to be my Fan” under the “Sharing” preferences.

Future of Yahoo , Answers & Social Network

The Yahoo Answers Network is quite basic right now, but should grow into a networking model which Yahoo can use amongst its various channels and within search.

For example, I would like to see Yahoo Answers from my Yahoo Answers Network ‘friends’ be the first Answers served in the Yahoo Search results Answers box (usually located at the bottom of Yahoo Search results). I think by doing so, Yahoo can integrate social networking into search quite easily.

Additionally, as stated before, Yahoo essentially has various social properties which are not yet connected, but seem to be on the verge of unification in the near future.

  • Yahoo Answers Network
  • Flickr
  • MyBlogLog
  • Yahoo News
  • Yahoo Finance
  • MyWeb
  • Del.icio.us
  • Yahoo Video
  • Yahoo Bookmarks 2.0
  • Yahoo Photos

These are all powerful social networks in one way or another which are building themselves vertically from the ground up and which all enjoy loyal followings.

Yahoo is Already One Big Social Network

Imagine what will happen one Yahoo connects all of these properties, all of the sudden Yahoo.com will become a massive social network, much larger and active than MySpace and Facebook combined, and the Yahoo Network will thrive on the vibrant niche social channels below it.

Essentially, Yahoo will become the most organized and easy to use social network on the web. By the end of 2007, Yahoo will finally fill its social media potential and become an absolute threat to the smaller social media sites on the Internet, especially once Yahoo News becomes more of a social field.

And that, I believe, is the key. Yahoo has always been about humans connecting and sharing information:

  • Yahoo’s original search functionality was based upon discovering web sites which were recommended and reviewed by humans.
  • Yahoo Messenger is the connecting factor amongst Yahoo users and will be the core of the Yahoo social network.
  • Chat was the original Social Network, and Yahoo built its registered user base from Chat, Messenger and eMail : all forms of communication and sharing.
  • Yahoo Search’s mission is all about social networking : FUSE : Find, Use, Share, and Expand all human knowledge.

I believe that Yahoo has figured out that they do not have to go and buy Facebook for $1 Billion, hoping to compete with Fox Interactive.

Instead, Yahoo has gone the intelligent route in using all of the technology and loyal registered userbase at their disposal to build something which will be more popular, larger, informative and active than Facebook or MySpace.

Yahoo Answers Network is a logical first step in achieving this goal, and an original one. While Microsoft, Amazon and others are working to launch their own Q&A services to try and catch up with Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Answers has already gone and taken its service to the next level.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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