Yahoo Embraces Twitter Across Global Properties

Seven months after embracing social media in a homepage redesign, Yahoo is aiming the Twitter firehose at many of its global properties.

Using Twitter APIs, Yahoo is building extensions of the service in three product areas: Yahoo Search, media properties like News and Sports, and the social framework known as Yahoo Updates. The move is part of the company’s “open strategy” to rope in more outside services – especially those pertaining to social media.

The Twitter integration with Yahoo Search is not new. In December, Yahoo began integrating real-time Twitter activity on its search results pages.

On its media and entertainment sites, including News, Finance, Entertainment, and Sports, Yahoo will deliver public Twitter activity related to the topic at hand – Major League Baseball or Lady Gaga, for example. It hopes to add those features to its content sites around the world this year.

The company was somewhat vague when asked how tweets will appear on its pages. Cody Simms, a senior director in charge of developer outreach and experience design at Yahoo, said the company will test different display options for public Twitter activity. He said users will be able to control whether private Twitter activity appears on Yahoo’s content properties.

The third component of Yahoo’s plan for Twitter involves Yahoo Updates, a social media platform that integrates with Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, and many content properties. Update is increasingly important to Yahoo’s open strategy, allowing users to see what people are doing across its network and on partner sites. By allowing people to pull in their Facebook activity, a move announced in December, and now Twitter, Yahoo hopes Updates will become the lens through which people view their social activity stream and publish content back out to it.

“One of the obvious benefits will be a massive increase in engagement for Yahoo,” said Simms. “For our content properties to be able to have users syndicate actions they take, that’ll create more personally relevant, more engaging audiences and bring them back to Yahoo.”

The company certainly needs to do something. Compete’s data for January shows that Facebook’s audience in the U.S. moved ahead of Yahoo for the first time last month. According to comScore, U.S. unique monthly visitors to Facebook grew 96.5 percent between January 2009 and January 2010.

Simms said publishers and marketers may find value in integrating their sites with Yahoo Updates, thereby allowing users to publish comments not only on Yahoo, but also syndicate them out to Twitter and Facebook. For example, Huffington Post recently linked its comment system to Yahoo Updates – through Yahoo’s own API – allowing Yahoo users who comment on its articles to display their comments within Yahoo Updates as well as on those other services.

Because of Yahoo’s immense reach – 158 million U.S. visitors in October 2009, according to ComScore – the integration could widen Twitter’s exposure to a broader swath of Internet users.

“The information in one single tweet can travel light-years farther with this Yahoo Integration,” Biz Stone, Twitter cofounder, said in a statement.

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