If you can’t dominate, aggregate. That seems to be the basic model online for also-rans in whatever online activity you can think of. And so it goes with Yahoo, which despite some 500 million monthly users worldwide has spent fruitless years trying to make them socialize on countless Yahoo properties.
So Sunday night Pacific time, Yahoo announced a couple of moves (not yet live as of this hour, it appears) that seek to keep Yahoo in the social swing dominated by Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter despite its being unable to create a sustainable social networking property of its own. From the press release and Yahoo’s Yodel Anecdotal blog, here are the two key moves:
* Facebook Integration — Yahoo! has reached an important milestone in its partnership with Facebook. Starting this week, people who use both Yahoo! and Facebook can link their accounts and view and share updates with friends across both networks. People who connect their accounts can consume their Facebook News Feed on the Yahoo! homepage and in Yahoo! Mail and other Yahoo! sites and services. Additionally, people who create and share content on Yahoo! sites – including Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, Flickr, and many Yahoo! entertainment sites, such as omg!, Yahoo! TV, and Yahoo! Movies – can easily share their actions with friends back on Facebook. Additional integrations will be ongoing.
* A Refresh of Yahoo! Profiles — Launched in October 2008, Yahoo! Profiles has allowed people to manage their identity and activities across Yahoo! from a central location. Yahoo! has refreshed the experience to make its privacy settings easier to use and to give people a central dashboard to manage what they share on Yahoo! from the external social accounts and apps that they have linked to Yahoo!, starting with Facebook and with others to come later this year. Yahoo! Profiles has been renamed Yahoo! Pulse to better reflect its broader ability to manage Yahoo! settings, privacy, and account links. The updated experience is available at http://pulse.yahoo.com.
It’s not actually a bad strategy. It seems doubtful that Yahoo (or anyone else in sight, for that matter) will challenge Facebook, in particular, in social networking given that company’s momentum. At the same time, though, it seems doubtful (despite much heavy breathing about Facebook taking over the next era of the Web) that Facebook will take over everything social that people want to do online. Twitter, for one, has forged a distinct enough value proposition that I’m sure not giving it up no matter how much Facebook copies its features. Then there’s Foursquare, Google Buzz, Quora, and whatever other dozen shiny new things come along.
So we all need something that aggregates all that in some kind of nice dashboard. Tweetdeck and others–and even Facebook itself to some extent–may provide that, I suppose. But lots and lots of people already use Yahoo as something of an aggregator for news and other activities, so it’s not out of the question that Yahoo can serve a role here. Even if it’s sort of a last resort to stay in the social game, it’s a pretty good last resort.