Firebrands insight: Yahoo. Struggling to be a serious contender

Yahoo’s stated goal is to personalise the digital world for its users, yet its social strategy is currently failing to connect to people on a deep or especially human level. On Twitter and Facebook, Yahoo’s style is purely broadcast rather than conversational, positioning itself as a news stream. Updates are frequent, but display no distinctive tone of voice.

As a result, mentions of Yahoo on Twitter are largely focused around the news content, rather than engaging with or responding directly to the brand. On other platforms, however, Yahoo Answers has developed a life – and reputation – of its own. #YahooAnswers (1,700 tags) on Instagram and the YouTube series ‘Dumb Yahoo Answers’ (60,000 views) poke fun at the questions and answers people post. Though Yahoo has an owned platform for Yahoo Answers (@yahooanswers) it fails to capitalise this, or find a way to engage people in a fun way. Craigslist, for example, has a section on its website dedicated to the “best of” Craigslist to showcase the weird and wonderful from their community.

Yahoo’s best performing day on Firebrands so far was when Marissa Meyer joined the company from Google. Yahoo climbed the Firebrands chart into the Top 10, even sitting above Google for a few hours. The announcement was broadly covered and debated by the tech community, so it is unsurprising that the story had an especially powerful impact on Yahoo’s Firebrands ranking. In a recent interview, Yahoo’s social media team were quoted as saying, “The Facebook IPO was a watershed moment for both us and our social media users because they were so addicted to real-time information. It’s a huge rush.” However, the story did not have a positive effect on the brand’s Reach in the long term, indicating that Yahoo failed to leverage its Buzz and grow its followed base.

Yahoo’s big search rival, Google, holds a steady position in the Firebrand Top 10. It boasts a far larger following on Twitter and diversified accounts which focus on different areas of the Google product range. This helps Google to be part of the conversation and connect with its broad, global customer base.

Key opportunities for Yahoo
Follow through on its goal to “deeply personalise” the digital world for its users by instigating conversations and engaging with them on a one-to-one basis.
Segment audience by how people are using the site, and reach out to them with content that directly appeals to them through diversified channels.
Ensure that the Yahoo visual identity is prominent at Yahoo-sponsored events
Find a way to embrace the fun side Yahoo Answers and show their humanity