It’s about time! Yahoo is finally taking the social route in fully connecting its Yahoo Network users across multiple Yahoo platforms in a Facebook meets Yahoo type setting, where users will be able to view the doings of their friends over a central Yahoo social map.
Yahoo is also building one unified user profile page instead of the confusing MySpace style launches of failed attempts at building a social web setting between Yahoo 360 and Yahoo Mash.
The Yahoo Profile page (which I have always thought should be part of My Yahoo!) will connect Yahoo account holders, acting as a core nucleus to the Yahoo and web experience.
Looking back in my blog posts on Yahoo, it’s funny to read what I wrote over a year ago during the Facebook acquisition rumors.
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.
The end result should be 500 million Yahoo users who can connect to each other via new social services and also keep tabs on their current Messaging and Yahoo Mail buddies.
Ideally, since Yahoo has a very decentralized networking scheme in connecting users in the limited realms of Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Live, Yahoo Groups or flickr, the new Social Web plan will integrate all of these cliques into one mega socialized version of Yahoo.
It also looks like Yahoo will be taking their social mapping down to a vertical channel level, so if a user is logged into Yahoo and visiting Yahoo Sports, they will see actions that their friends are making within that channel (example below).
Futhermore, in an effort to open up Yahoo to outside innovation, Yahoo is adapting a Facebook style opening of their social network to outside developers.
This is a move Yahoo has to make, and they will be a better company for it. Why?
- It keeps users on Yahoo, so the site is no longer a start page
- Third party content integration within Yahoo will fortify this
- And when Yahoo sends users to a third party page, chances are like Buzz and the Consortium, that page is a Yahoo advertising partner
- Yahoo users start their life with Yahoo, but use Google to search, if Yahoo can open up with a Google app and serve Google and Yahoo advertising, those users may stay on Yahoo longer.
- The social setting will further position the company as a rather important chunk of the Internet, and grow and fortify the Yahoo brand
The past few years have been quite frustrating, watching Sunnyvale sit on their golden egg of a user base of 500 million registered Yahoo Mail & Messenger users, and not really motivating them to do much else.
Sure, Yahoo Answers has become a success, in terms of innovation and usage, but what else have they accomplished in terms of socially connecting their users? Not much. And during this time, Facebook and other social sites have been changing the way their users communicate online.
This new movement, the Jerry Yang movement is good for Yahoo, good for the Internet and good for search.