Yahoo’s Latest Attempts to Get More Social: More Facebook Integrations

Yahoo has been making itself into Facebook’s largest platform partner over the last six months — at least in terms of total potential audience. Following a big partnership made late last year, its drum-beat of announcements about Facebook integrations continues

Starting this week, users will be able to link their Facebook and Yahoo accounts so they can do things like read their Facebook news feeds while on Yahoo properties, while also being able to share Yahoo stories and other content back to Facebook.

But will this make Yahoo a more attractive place for users to get all their content and social-service needs? It’s a conceptually interesting idea, but so far there hasn’t been a lot of evidence supporting it.

Most measures show Facebook with at least around the same number of users as Yahoo in the US and around the world (540 million versus 490 million, according to Google). This makes Yahoo even an even bigger user of Facebook’s developer platform, in terms of total audience size, than social gaming companies like Zynga. It’s not clear that the relationship is completely symbiotic, though, in terms of revenue, because Facebook increasingly competes with Yahoo and other portals for display advertising dollars. And, Facebook’s traffic continues to grow, while Yahoo’s doesn’t.

The problem for Yahoo is that it began as a content portal and while it has email, chat and other “social” services, it has not managed to establish a central, compelling social graph of real-world connections. Facebook has. So Yahoo is trying to use integration with Facebook and other social networks to make up for what it is not.

The main feature this week is an expansion of what has existed for months. Previously, you could log in to your Facebook account via a rollover feature on the right-hand navigation column, then see your Facebook feed and send updates back. Starting this week, you’ll be able to sync with your Yahoo identity. This means you can see your Facebook feeds within Yahoo Mail and other. In another option on that rollover window, called Updates, you’ll be able to see status updates from Facebook mixed in with updates from Yahoo’s own “Updates” feature.

Yahoo has recently integrated the Facebook Like button to Yahoo Sports and other sites it owns. As with the Like Button on other sites, users can more easily share Yahoo-based content back to Facebook. And, Yahoo Mail also added Facebook Contacts in March, so you can find Facebook friends on Yahoo and build a more detailed address book (on Yahoo) that way.

These integrations may drive some more traffic to Yahoo, but it’s not clear if the people who have the most to benefit from these new integrations — established Yahoo users who have more recently joined Facebook — will actually find them compelling. They may choose to go to Facebook’s one, central, socially-powered news feed instead to get all the information they care about.

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