Everything is going social – Yahoo showing the way

Yesterday Yahoo announced a deep integration with Facebook, and there is more detail on Techcrunch here.  The integration allows users to:

  • link their accounts to view and share updates with friends across both networks
  • log into Facebook from the Yahoo home page and other places throughout Yahoo
  • consumer their Facebook newsfeed on the Yahoo homepage
  • more easily share Yahoo stories and comments into Facebook

I think this is a smart move for Yahoo – I don’t know whether it will be enough to turn their fortunes, but it will help them in two ways

  • increase sharing of their content and hence page views – the lifeblood of their business.  As social networks account for a larger and larger share of content discovery content business like Yahoo need deals like this in the same way they need SEO
  • keep existing customers on Yahoo rather than going off to Facebook to view their feed, and longer term giving them a shot at being a social network aggregator

The first of these strategies is obvious these days and Yahoo is simply taking it to the next level.  Social media integration has been a mainstay of innovative content businesses for a while – witness HuffPo’s integration with Facebook and now LinkedIn and the sharing features on blogs from Techcrunch to The Equity Kicker.

The second of these is equally not a new idea, but is more ambitious for Yahoo.  If they are successful in becoming a single destination that people visit to manage their activity across multiple social networks they will have carved a new and high value market.  At the moment it is difficult to look past Facebook which makes the aggregation play look less interesting, but it is a decent bet over that over the medium term the social network landscape will become more complex and fragmented (again).

Beyond the impact on Yahoo’s fortunes this development is interesting because it shows the value social adds to traditionally non-social activities and the benefits of weaving social network integration throughout our web activities.  Email would also benefit from social media integration, and startups like Gist and Xobni are building interesting products in this area.

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