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Yahoo needs a “Save” button, by Adam Rifkin in PandoDaily

Stashed in: Interest Graph!, Pinterest, Tumblr!, The Web, @ifindkarma, Awesome, Commerce, @marissamayer, @joshelman, Content is king., Medium

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I published this in Pando Daily two weeks ago:

Yahoo! needs a social button for the open Web.

The open Web consists of blogs and other content and commerce web sites that are not walled gardens, whose pages already contain social buttons such as Facebook’s “Like,” Twitter’s “tweet,” Pinterest’s “pin,” and Google’s “+1 button.” The reason open Web content providers and commerce sites happily put buttons on their pages is so that humans can spread their content. If Yahoo! offered a button, it would benefit from the "exponential growth of sharing" trend of which Mark Zuckerberg talks fondly.

The reason Yahoo! needs to get in this game is to keep itself front of mind with its audience, while they’re on other websites and thinking about where to save the great stuff they’ve found. Doing so would re-establish Yahoo!’s formerly commanding position with consumer brands. I’m not just talking about people sharing from Yahoo properties such as OMG! and Flickr. I’m also referring to people sharing to Yahoo! properties, with Tumblr being a new great place on Yahoo! to share things.

A complete social button solution would involve many Yahoo! properties. Tumblr could be both a place to save from and a place to save to, inspiring Yahoo users to create new Tumblrs like Pinterest users create new boards. Yahoo!’s other properties, including OMG! and Flickr, would also benefit by inviting users to share their content on Yahoo!’s networks.

The question is not if Yahoo! should have a social button of its own. The question is what the best button strategy would be.

I still wholeheartedly believe this.

Social buttons are not new:

Buttons were embraced by early adopters back in 2005 when twin pioneers Digg and Delicious let thousands of buttons bloom around the Web. Their legacy was to provide functionality — “Like” and “Save” buttons, respectively — that exploded once social networks adopted their strategy a few years later.

When Facebook announced its API platform, few could have predicted that its most long-lasting success would actually be the little thumbs-up “Like” buttons we see on content all over the Web. (Like and Share were originally separate buttons, but the functionality has since been merged.) Soon every other social network had to have their own button scattered across the Web, too: tweet it, Reddit, Pin it, and even Google+ buttons are everywhere now.

Yahoo! needs a verb:

“How do you get to be a long-standing durable network and define a new set of behaviors or verbs?” asks Josh Elman in a recent Medium post offering advice to consumer Internet entrepreneurs for how to build products that can appeal to more than 100 million consumers. The same advice is good food for thought for Yahoo!: Where are the verbs?

Yahoo! is the only major site that lacks its own Like, Share, or Save button. But remember that saving is not necessarily sharing. The primary point of saving, as Pinterest has shown, is to collect pictures of vintage wedding dresses, not to announce to your entire Facebook friend list that you collect pictures of vintage wedding dresses. Therefore, Yahoo! would only need to compete with Pinterest and its clones, rather than with the sharing-oriented social networks (Facebook, Google+, etc.).

But Yahoo! has two strong advantages in winning the sharing battle: It controls a tremendous amount of content, and has a tremendous amount of experience in monetization.

It's all about creating an Interest Graph:

Pinterest’s user base saves precious little content from the web. Fewer than 20 percent of Pinterest content is pinned, whereas over 80 percent is re-pinned by users who see the fresh content and want it for themselves. The site is cranking up the bizdev machine to inject more save-worthy content into its system, but it still relies largely on lead generation rather than brand advertising. The lead gen can also be a little bit shaky, since it relies heavily on “quirky” marketplaces like Etsy and Modcloth, which don’t necessarily have the strongest of supply-chains.

Yahoo, on the other hand, already owns properties such as OMG! and Flickr, which would lend themselves to multiple monetization channels via attractive content. A photo of Jennifer Lawrence in her Oscar dress, or one of a Hawaiian resort — both with strong metadata attached — lends itself easily to lead-gen via a technology such as Stipple, because great metadata allows for specific age, gender, location, and keyword targeting.

And let us not forget that Yahoo still controls one of the strongest ad sales forces in the world, with pre-established relationships to top consumer brands worldwide.

Content is King and Commerce is Queen.

For some reason, Pando Daily edited out the end of my article.

I include it below in case you're interested.

From a technical point of view, Yahoo! owns a great platform for saving content: Tumblr. Tumblr so far wants to keep people on more of a traditional blog view on their dashboards, but there is a Pinterest-esque “wall of images” layout that could easily become the dashboard.


Tumblr has a similar ratio of “pinners” (aka "bloggers") to “re-pinners” ("rebloggers") -- very low -- as Pinterest, but it also uses more of a “manual post” model rather than a “bookmarklet” model and this would be easy to fix. Otherwise the gestures available to users of the sites are quite similar, and the underlying technology looks quite comparable.


Imagine a world with "SAVE to my Tumblr" buttons not just on Yahoo! properties, but across the Web on Amazon, eBay, Fab, and other e-commerce sites. Aggregate signal from consumers saving things they care about would be valuable not just to Yahoo and those websites, but also to the makers of the products being saved, too.


In turn, Yahoo could employ personalization technology to that signal to recommend goods and services to those users. An integrated "Buy It Now" feature could be a win-win-win-win for Yahoo, the e-commerce sites, the product makers, and the consumers.


From a branding point of view, perhaps Tumblr would be less appealing to the youth market if it became known as the place where our moms save their cupcake recipes and "fitspo" exhortations to exercise -- the refrigerator door, as it were -- rather than the place we save selfies of ourselves partying or gifs of ridiculously good-looking people kissing.


I am not a marketing genius, but it seems like that might be a tradeoff worth making.

I use the Share on Tumblr Chrome extension for this button.  I am sad about the removal of adult tags and blogs through search. Search is key for the internet.  

Yeah, without search all that content is cut off.

We always knew a knew owner would do something so advertisers would be more receptive. 

true.  time for the next fb and tumblr and etc. I wonder what will fill the awesome/fun sexy times tumblr created in the last few years. All Hail PW.

I do wonder if the next Tumblr will be mobile-only. Trends point to that way.

If the next Tumblr is web-and-eventually-mobile then PandaWhale might have a chance...

I am not a fan of the mobile-only space.  Mobile is just another OS in truth.  It is all about how web and OS play with each other that matters.  Usually OS seems to hinder web (ie using websites on phones can suck).  

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