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Yahoo Pulse gives Mail users the chance to access Facebook without having to leave the search engine. But will their answer to Google Buzz really improve the stickiness of the ailing search giant?
Having watched from the sidelines as Google Buzz was launched and critically pilloried, Yahoo have now entered the social integration arena [see: Google Buzz into Social Media Market]. Learning from Google’s mistakes, Yahoo Pulse will have a greater emphasis on privacy.
But what does social media really have to do with search? Well, the biggest clue comes in a Telegraph interview with Mark Rabe, Yahoo’s MD for UK and Ireland [see: Yahoo! strikes deal with Facebook in bid to be the ‘largest social network’ in the world]. Rabe said that “Partnerships with companies such as Facebook, are intended to help our users be as social as they want – without leaving the Yahoo environment.” And there you have it. Yahoo doesn’t want you going anywhere else.
It does make a degree of sense though. Whilst it may not be groundbreaking, the idea of integrating popular services that will keep a user on a site longer and ensure that they return is integral to their future revenue. Yahoo have their search problems, hence why they adopted Bing, but remain a popular go-to place for news, sport and their hugely popular Mail service. With Pulse they can expand their allure to regular users and work on attracting new ones.
Many Yahoo users will no doubt have already customised their unique Homepage to incorporate Facebook and Twitter accounts, so the impact of this social expansion might be slightly diluted. But in a world of constant integration and an intensifying need for real-time information Yahoo have to keep pace. Pulse certainly appears to check that box.
Flickr and other Yahoo properties should also benefit from a Facebook tie-in, perhaps even more so when a Twitter deal is also concluded. Their aim to be to become an information and communication super-hub can certainly only be strengthened by this, but yet again they seem to be moving further away from search. Perhaps Pulse is just one of many steps in this new direction for the company, but can it really lure people (back) to Yahoo?
They benefit from having the most widely used email service, which gives them an instant audience of millions. As already mentioned, many people also still prefer to quickly browse the Yahoo homepage headlines, even over the ever-popular iGoogle. This is an enduring legacy from their pre-Google heyday, when the yodelling Yahoo was the preeminent name in search.
Times have clearly changed and Yahoo needs to re-establish its identity away from search. They’ve already enquired about buying Foursquare, signed up for online Premier League football highlights [see: Yahoo Flirt with Premier League Football and Foursquare to Kick-start Revival] and now they are joining up with the second most-visited site in the world, Facebook.
Whether Yahoo have jumped the shark following their search departure remains to be seen, but Pulse could well be one in the eye for Google Buzz. Rather than trying to fight the strength of Facebook and Twitter, they have instead looked to harness it. Either amazingly inspired or depressingly uninspired depending on your personal view; as always though, feel free to share your views below.