The social media phenomenon is fed by human needs for self-expression, feedback, generosity, and, to some degree, good old-fashioned voyeurism. Today, we add more food to Yahoo!'s social media menu: Bix, a budding social media service that almost anyone can use to create, enter, and judge a contest. If you're an American Idol fan, think of it as an opportunity to play the role of a Fox producer, a contestant, and Simon Cowell.
Here's how it works: Bix contests include karaoke, dance, comedy, beauty, photography, and writing. They are either initiated by Bix members or, in some cases, by sponsors. Contest organizers call the shots on criteria and set the deadlines. Interested contestants then scan the roster of active contests for something worthy of their submission. And winners are selected by the largest vote tally.
Bix provides really cool web-based video- and audio-recording tools to make it all easy. All you might need is a webcam or digital video camera. Most computers and webcam come with built-in microphones, or you can plug in an external mic. (After all, what's lip-synching without the hand-held?)
Social media is a playground for emerging talent. Scanning the site, I found this terrific gender-bender karaoke, some great Ansel Adams wannabes, and a video that exemplified what comedy on the Web should be. I also came across some interesting sponsored contests. GigaOM, the popular tech blog, launched a guest blog contest that promised to publish the winning entry. And in this "other" category, Six Flags Great America asked people to submit their best impersonation of a roller-coaster scream. (If you're at work, turning down your volume has never been more imperative.)
So how does Bix fit into Yahoo!'s strategy? Bix, which was founded in January, is a young startup — not unlike Flickr, del.icio.us, Upcoming.org, and Jumpcut when we acquired them. All represented emerging social media trends with great potential. Imagine where Bix's creativity could go once we scale it to over half a billion people worldwide. For example, we're currently looking into possible synergies with things like Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Video and our entertainment properties.
In the meantime, we're psyched to welcome Bix founder Mike Speiser and his coworkers to the Yahoo! family. Once the deal closes, Mike, one of the founders of Epinions, will join the Communities, Communications, and Front Doors group as our new vice president of community, driving products like Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! 360°, Yahoo! Photos, and, of course, Bix.
If you need any encouragement to give Bix a try, Mike invites you to enter his contest.
VP of Product Strategy