Yahoo Is Trying to Connect to the Social Boom Without Stepping in It Like Google Buzz
Is there more than one way to skin a social graph?
Yesterday, Yahoo (YHOO) took another step in its efforts to play fast catch-up in the social networking arena, by dramatically expanding its relationship with Twitter and integrating the microblogging service broadly throughout its Web site.
In much the same way it did recently with Facebook, Yahoo’s move is part of a massive integration of more innovative and popular third-party social networking sites across the giant Internet portal, which is code-named internally “Project Rushmore.”
Some think outsourcing the job to more capable companies is yet another monument to Yahoo’s failure at its own much touted plans to socialize itself.
And while this is true to a large extent, BoomTown is not so sure it’s a bad idea, especially compared with the flailing experienced by Google (GOOG) recently from its own attempts to compete with Facebook and Twitter via the rollout of Google Buzz.
That has certainly turned out to be a confusing mishmash so far and most definitely a privacy quagmire for the search giant, which–let’s be honest–might not be able to grok social even if it got poked in the head relentlessly.
And while Google execs have loudly claimed that they are not aiming at the social networking’s twin phenoms, the air of aggressive desperation–or maybe desperate aggression–is palpable.
That’s why what the Silicon Valley icon is doing might be the best solution for it at this point–if you can’t innovate, aggregate!
“We want to integrate across all social networks to give consumers a better experience,” said Cody Simms, senior director of product management for Yahoo’s open strategy, in an interview yesterday. “Yahoo then becomes a network of social networks, making it easier for users.”
And that effort to make Yahoo the one place to gather it all is just what it seems to be trying to do. In December, Yahoo announced it would integrate Facebook Connect with its many properties–from its powerful media sites to its Flickr photo service to its email.
That has now been followed by the weaving of Twitter’s real-time feed throughout the service in a variety of ways. Under terms of the deal, users can access the data stream of tweets while on Yahoo, make status updates and share Yahoo content.
In addition, Yahoo said that search and media properties “like News, Finance, Entertainment, and Sports will include real-time public Twitter updates across a variety of topics.”
Yahoo sources said the company would be striking similar deals with other social networking sites, and MySpace and LinkedIn are likely candidates for the next two spots on Yahoo’s social monument.
This kind of search and presentation improvement is key, of course, as Yahoo must present a more innovative palette of tools to consumers as Microsoft (MSFT) takes over its search technology and others offer users an increasing number of features.
Without naming Google Buzz, Jim Stoneham, Yahoo’s VP of Communities, said he thinks it is the best course at this point in the game, in which Facebook and Twitter have run far ahead with the social ball and do not show any signs of slowing down quite yet.
“I don’t think yet another social network, no matter how you try to force it on consumers, is what people want,” said Stoneham, in a not-so-veiled slap at Google Buzz. “So, Yahoo will obviously not be doing another social network.”
That’s the best news I have heard in a long time from Yahoo. Now, let’s see if it can turn not making something into, well, something.