Yahoo Lets Brands Get More Social

Aims to make content more engaging, shareable

It’s not enough to ask consumers to talk about your brand, Yahoo says. If you want to get people really engaged, invite them to weigh in on relevant content.

That’s the thinking behind the company’s latest social feature called the Social Sentiment Slider, which launched today.

Placed directly beneath Yahoo stories, the sponsorable widget asks a question related to the article and lets readers register their opinions by sliding their cursors across an interactive scale.

For example, after a story about the future of the iPod, the Sentiment Slider might ask, “Is the iPod going the way of the dinosaur?” Readers can respond on a scale that runs from “No one needs an iPod” to “It will always be relevant.” They can also see the number of people who selected the same response and then share their opinion on Facebook.

“It’s a new approach to social,” said Patrick Albano, Yahoo’s vice president of social, mobile, and innovation. “What we’re really trying to do is structure a conversation between the brand and the user.”

Jaguar has signed on as a launch sponsor, but he said three other brands will be announced soon. With each marketer, Yahoo assembles a bundle of 10 to 20 relevant articles that will feature the Slider over the course of a month (or even a year). Marketers can provide input on the question prompts, but Albano said they plan to make it an editorial-driven feature.

As the feature hasn’t formally launched yet, the company said it doesn't have metrics to share.  However, in initial tests, user feedback showed that the feature boosted purchase intent and brand favorability about 12 percent.

Not only does the Sentiment Slider deepen user engagement on the page, Albano said, but the Facebook tie-in could also help increase brands’ visibility in the users’ Facebook feeds.

“Our larger strategy is all about social content and trying to make Yahoo and the content we produce a more social experience,” he said. “It’s all about personalizing, engaging, and making it more shareable.”