Yahoo has launched it own version of a social media Web site — that is, one that publishes a selection of articles from a variety of online sources every day and gives users the chance to rank them.
Yahoo’sBuzz is very similar to such popular sites asDigg,Del.icio.us andReddit. There are a few differences, of course, starting with the fact that it can immediately draw on Yahoo’s massive readership. The most popular articles will earn a special spotlight on the Yahoo portal.
There are other differences as well. In some ways, Buzz may be viewed as less democratic than Digg, for example, which gives readers the power to suggest articles for inclusion. Yahoo’s Buzz retains control over which articles are submitted to reader review.
While some Web 2.0 devotees may object to that strategy, publishers are banking on the sheer number of Yahoo readers to mitigate any reader revolt.
Size and Scale
“We think of Buzz as wonderful addition to variety of social news or bookmark aggregator sites with a unique twist — it has the size and scale of Yahoo’s audience,” Chris Johnson, vice president of content and business development from Hearst magazines, told TechNewsWorld. Hearst is one of the content providers for Buzz.
Yahoo’s numbers are so great, Johnson said, that in one short afternoon it can reset traffic on any one site at much higher numbers than, say, the previous month. Johnson pointed to two magazine articles from Esquire —“Worst Building in History” and“10 Who Tasted Greatness (and Choked on It)” — that recently brought some 1.3 million Yahoo users to the magazine’s Web site.
As a content partner,Hearst Magazines will incorporate Yahoo “Buzz Up” voting badges into existing tool bars on the magazine Web sites, so that readers will be able to vote directly — much like the buttons available from Digg or del.icio.us.
Hearst will also submit automatic public RSS (really simple syndication) feeds through the Yahoo Buzz system.
Power of Users
Putting ranking ability in the hands of consumers is exactly the point of Web 2.0, said Denise Shiffman, author of The Age of Engage: Reinventing Marketing for Today’s Connected, Collaborative, and Hyperinteractive Culture.
“Consumers get to determine what is the best news of the day. They like self-expression and want to see that their opinions are heard,” she told TechNewsWorld.
More sites will incorporate such elements into their pages, Shiffman predicted, if only to show customers that their service and product providers are paying attention to their opinions.
As a news content aggregator, though, Buzz will represent one step backward to many savvy Web 2.0 users, noted Matt Eventoff, messaging strategist with Princeton Public Speaking.
“If anything, it would seem that entering an already fairly saturated social media environment with a product that is actually less user-friendly — in that users cannot control what content is voted on — would be a pretty tall order,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“It almost seems that this idea would have come prior to Digg or Reddit, and that Digg and Reddit would be the next line of progression as they allow the user the freedom to recommend stories,” Eventoff reasoned.
Yahoo might find itself forced to replicate the style employed by Digg and Reddit to become successful, he speculated. Then, the added bonus of a story having the potential to be on the homepage of Yahoo would become truly appealing.