“Yahoo’s Jerry Yang Doesn’t Understand Blogging”

Jerry YangThis weekend, all eyes turned to the blogosphere to watch as the Microhoo deal fell through. Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo, also turned to blogging to plead his case. Sadly, the blog became a PR mechanism and one-sided message delivery system. Take a look at a few quotes:

“Our first quarter was probably one of the most exciting quarters in our history in terms of delivering innovative products and services that really move the needle and make a difference for our users and customers: Acquiring Maven Networks. Launching Buzz, OneSearch 2.0, voice-activated mobile search, video on Flickr, Shine….”

“So, what’s next? With Microsoft’s withdrawal, we’ll be better able to focus our energy on growing our industry leadership and maximizing value for stockholders. We’ll continue to execute on our plan — making your Internet experience as personal, relevant, open and social as possible, serving advertisers so well they insist on working with us, and opening up Yahoo! in a way that developers dream of.”

It’s a great letter to shareholders–or a press release–but it’s not a blog post. As we’ve mentioned before, a blog is a conversation. If Jerry wants to use it to put out company messages, that’s fine, but what’s the point. He’s losing a chance to re-energize the Yahoo user base.

Take a look at sampling of some of the comments:

A user named Jive sums it up best: “Above all, listen to us, your consumer, because we use your products and have specific wants, habits, usage etc.”

Wanna make it back on top, Jerry? Here are some suggestions:

  • First off, read and respond to some of the comments on this post. There are a lot of people with great ideas. You also need to think about the harsh criticism and respond thoughtfully.
  • Ask questions and listen.
  • Set up an Ideastorm type forum for people to leave suggestions and then close the feedback loop. Let users know they are being listened to and that their ideas are gaining traction. You want people to know that Yahoo! has changed? Show them by letting them get involved in product development.
  • Set up a community manager and go address the concerns in the blogosphere head on. Let them know that Yahoo wants to embrace the Internet again. Stop thinking 1.0 and start embracing your users and their voices.

Jerry, I love Yahoo. You guys have so many great properties, but they are all disconnected. If you read the comments on your post, you’ll see many users feel the same way. You’ll also see that most of them still love Yahoo. Give them something to get excited about. Your users make or break the company. If you listen to them–and interact with them–they will welcome you back with open arms. I guarantee it.

What do you think? Did Jerry’s post legitimately address user concerns? What do you think Yahoo should do to reengage its user base?

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6 Comments

Filed under Community Manager, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

6 responses to ““Yahoo’s Jerry Yang Doesn’t Understand Blogging”

  1. Great post, Chris. Taking the step to blog is never just one step. Your bullets highlight that it’s an ongoing endeavor and that listening is paramount. Consumers today (Yahoo or otherwise) are too savvy, smart, connected and vocal to be ignored, and they deserve better than that.

    It will be interesting to see how and if Jerry and Yahoo correct this problem.

  2. Thanks for posting about Jerry’s post. (I would’ve missed it otherwise.) It was important to me to see that other users feel the same way I do/did about Yahoo’s communication style. Their technical support and other outbound communications were always so closed and one-way. It was impossible to have a dialogue about your problems as a user. And, forget about trying to make a suggestion and get a response. Jerry’s blog reveals Yahoo’s lack of two-way dialogue with their users.

    You hit the nail on the head with this post. Yahoo would have much better services and products (and a stronger brand) if they listened more to their users. And, why not start at the top? Jerry should absolutely listen to and respond to the users who took time to comment on his blog. It would go far to rekindle the love that users once had for the Yahoo brand.

  3. katie mcgraw

    quick quasi relevant question in regards to your ideastorm concept – what are your thoughts on starbucks and their “my starbucks idea campaign”?

  4. Amanda, Logan: You guys are spot on! Thanks for your comments!

    Katie:
    Great question. It’s important to remember that, just because we have the tools, doesn’t mean we always need to use them. Therefore, we should ask where Ideastorm fits into the larger goal before we determine whether we should use it.

    With Dell, it’s really a two-fold solution. First, Dell used to be only an online and phone retailer, making the online customers their largest audience. Also, by getting their users engaged in the product development process, Dell could also build products that fit to user needs that they may have missed.

    Same can be said for Yahoo. Their life blood is their users, who are only found online. With user input, Yahoo could get a better sense for what people want. Due to the fluid nature of the online community, it’s important to engage them, and help your product grow around them.

    That brings us to Starbucks. I think it’s great that they want to try and listen to their customers, but I’m not sure how an Ideastorm-type product would really fit in. Bulk of their customers are OFFLINE, and I’m not sure how much product development their customers can actually take part in. They can’t build a flavor that people want. In the end, it seems like it’s more of a comment box/market research type community, and not a move to energize their customer base. Make sense?

  5. katie

    This does indeed make sense. However, even with a company like Starbuck’s, I still think a pretty decent portion of their customers must use the Internet considering over 70 percent of Americans say they use it. I think my main issue with SB is the fact that I sent in a suggestion regarding thoughts I had on service and received zero response. At the very least it would have been tolerable to receive an instant feedback message saying that they appreciated my suggestion. That said, I still think they could use this for good. I would recommend something like a one state customer rep. virtual media/customer round table. They could include a contest to select the final customer rep. from each state, entice them with a SB prize, and invite them and media and shareholders even to join a conversation re: what SB is doing wrong and how to change it for the better. Everyone could tap in through a phone line and online webinar. High-tech to a certain degree but still pretty mainstream for those who are not Internet buffs.

    I don’t think the issue at hand is whether folks want chocolate flavored coffee or banana flavored coffee as an option. I think a big issue is that SB lost that loving feeling when barista’s lost touch with the fact that their job wasn’t just about pulling a smooth shot. Which brings me full circle to what PR and life and SB should be about – communication and relationship building…whether through coffee or conversation.

  6. katie mcgraw

    good luck with the computer. i just saw this article in the boston globe…crazy! last non-tech reply, i swear…

    http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/articles/2008/05/08/feedback_even_if_it_hurts/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed6

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