The turmoil at Yahoo may be reaching crisis proportions. Stagnant sales growth was one thing, a lack of strategic clarity another, and now senior executives are leaving in droves and there are calls for drastic action. As I discuss at GigaOM Pro, Yahoo could gain back some momentum with social media.
Just about every company online should add some social spice to its site, but in Yahoo’s case, an aggressive dose could help maintain its huge audience and advertising leadership position. It’s too late for the company to build a new social network from the ground up. Rather, Yahoo should try to regain the momentum of its original portal role as the entry point or start page for the Internet by playing an aggressive role in the emerging age of feed-based user interfaces.
- Integrated interface. Yahoo should accelerate its feed and update its aggregation strategy, taking it beyond surfacing connections on the homepage or near content and email. Once upon a time, Yahoo taught mainstream users how to use directories and search for web navigation. Now it must more aggressively offer a feed to its audience, who may be more familiar with traditional content discovery. Facebook is mainstream, but Twitter is not. Yahoo could help move mainstream audiences back and forth across search, browse and stream consumption styles. A medium-size acquisition, say, TweetDeck or Seesmic, could help.
- Ads around feeds. Yahoo should then apply its advertising sales force, relationships and targeting capabilities atop or near the resulting UIs and experiences to create unique “advertorial” content around that aggregation. Yahoo’s content farm acquisition, Associated Content, can work here. Yahoo has long worked with creating customized content experiences for brand advertisers.
- Social ad network. Yahoo’s already in the ad network business (although there’s concern about its publisher efforts) and should rent out its resulting social ad platform to other sites. True, Facebook is already building out an ad platform with social targeting and a home for advertiser content, but it doesn’t have the richer store of seasonal and evergreen professional content that Yahoo has, nor its trusted content brand. And Facebook says it’s not building an ad network. At least, not yet.
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Image Source: flickr user James Cridland.