Social Media

Tumblr Now Faces the Challenge of Change

I thought I was hip with social media until a few months ago I noticed my teenage daughter had deleted her FaceBook account. When I asked her why, she told me “FaceBook is for old people! We use Tumblr & Twitter now. “ Tumblr? As a matter of fact, it seems many teenagers are leaving. According to Social Media Today, many of the teens that depart Facebook do so because they feel that other social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are less pressurized than Facebook. On these other networks, they are relatively free from the eyes of parents and other adults, while also being a bit less-constricted by social pressure from their peers, for whom Facebook is a place where you must bring your A game.

What The Heck Is Tumblr?

I know what Twitter is, I use it personally and we use it as part of our Social Media Campaigns at our Company, but what the heck is Tumblr? I immediately created a Tumblr account so I could, well let’s just say…follow her. What did I discover but a slew of teenage websites where my daughter and her friends shared gif’s, stories and created their own micro blog personas. Very impressive, until I saw all the porn, quite a bit of it I’m afraid. It seems anything goes on Tumblr.

Let The Changes Begin

Today Tumblr announced that they will start to bring sponsored posts to Dashboards on the web and that Just like in our mobile apps, these posts will simply blend in with the posts from the blogs you follow. On Techcrunch today they state Tumblr users will be able to reblog, like, follow and share these ads and the brands themselves directly from their web dashboard, which of course, is what we know all the Tumblr-lovin’ teens are just dying to do as you can see in the image below:

tumblr changes 637x6331 Tumblr Now Faces the Challenge of Change

Can The Growth Continue Post Acquisition?

Tumblr has witnessed rapid growth in the past few years. As a matter of fact it adds 120,000 new users per day to its website. Yahoo firmly believes that it can monetize Tumblr successfully and also retain most of its 300 million unique users. With this acquisition, Yahoo’s unique visitor count will increase to over 1 billion unique users per month. The move from Yahoo is the latest tactic in the CEO’s attempt to get Yahoo out of the search engine cellar in the United States and try to revive a company she helped bury. But will it work? Within moments of the news being announced, more than 72,000 switched their Tumblr accounts to rival platforms.

The Yahoo! Challenge

Mayer has been at the helm of Yahoo for 10 months now and is taking on the challenge of restoring Yahoo to a position of relevance after a 13 year career at Google, during which she helped bury Yahoo in a torrent of new technologies and ways of thinking. Since taking over at Yahoo last year, Mayer has led the company through the purchase of several smaller, start-up companies. The purchase of New York City-based Tumblr represents the largest purchase by Yahoo in over a decade, and by far the largest during Mayer’s tenure.

Can Yahoo! Be Hip and Cool?

The purchase of Tumblr highlights the continued efforts of Yahoo to look “hip and cool” again. Tumblr is a micro-blogging site that is very image intensive and is populated by a predominantly younger, more mobile crowd. David Karp, a high school dropout, started the Tumblr service six years ago and has served as CEO ever since. One of the biggest reasons for Yahoo’s decline was its lack of appeal to younger generations and a failure to adapt as quickly as the competition to the mobile Internet shift.

Yahoo announced the purchase of Tumblr on Monday, May 20th at a press event in New York City. The company will pay the $1.1 billion acquisition fee in cash, dipping into cash reserves that were built up in the last year due in large part to Yahoo’s sale of its 50% stake in Alibaba Holdings Group. Yahoo received $7.6 billion for the sale of the Chinese company, and dipped into the remaining $5.4 billion in its accounts at the end of March in order to make the Tumblr purchase.

No Changes Coming

While Yahoo has made several other purchases during Mayer’s tenure, they have totaled a mere $50 million and most have been folded into Yahoo services. Unlike those purchases, Mayer and other Yahoo officials insist that Tumblr will remain an independently operated entity within the Yahoo family.

As a part of the purchase agreement, Yahoo agreed to specific wording that the company would “not screw it up.” As such, Tumblr will carry on with Karp as CEO and no changes are expected as a result of Yahoo’s takeover.

Not everyone is sold on the idea of Yahoo’s purchase however. While analysts see the move as a savvy choice befitting Mayer’s revival plan for Yahoo, there is an increasingly loud voice of opposition coming from Tumblr’s user base. The very people Yahoo is hoping to target with its revival are not happy to see Yahoo taking over Tumblr.

Over the weekend, numerous bloggers on the service posted about their fears at the Yahoo takeover. Those concerns ranged from the self-interested who just didn’t like it, to those who seemed genuinely angry.

Techcrunch.com reported on many of the concerns from users. Among them were some of the following comments and posts:

“The whole Yahoo buying Tumblr is actually stressing me out. I mean I’m kinda scared and I don’t want anything to happen to the place, seriously.” (Posted by user thexexygiraffes)

“If Yahoo buys Tumblr, where are we meeting to build the barricades?” (Posted by user youatthebarricadelistentothis32)

“If you sell Tumblr to Yahoo, we will come after you.” (Posted by user dontletyourdreamsbedreams and directed to Tumblr leadership)

Tumblr’s Upside

In purchasing Tumblr, Yahoo has acquired a large and important demographic of young internet users. With this new user base, Yahoo will be looking to cast a wider web in which to attract advertisers and their dollars. Ad money is the main goal for Yahoo as the company looks to close the gap in advertising revenue between itself and the likes of Google and Bing.

Tumblr’s Downside

Yahoo has had a sketchy track record when it comes to integrating its past acquisitions, and with vastly different demographics existing between Yahoo and Tumblr users that challenge will face Mayer and Yahoo again. In the past, Yahoo officials failed to see eye to eye with groups that were acquired and competing ideals torpedoed the chances for success. In order for the Tumblr acquisition to work Yahoo officials will have to find a way to benefit from the partnership while encouraging the independence of Tumblr.

Another major problem facing Yahoo is the freedom of content on Tumblr. Numerous blogs on Tumblr include adult content, even pornography, and this is the kind of content that big spending advertisers run from like the plague. Working around those issues offers a major challenge to the success of this partnership as well.

Good or bad, the Tumblr purchase is now complete and time will tell how Yahoo uses the service to continue its shift in focus to a younger, more mobile crowd. Time will tell whether or not the audience will stick around.

Yahoo has had a sketchy track record when it comes to integrating its past acquisitions, and with vastly different demographics existing between Yahoo and Tumblr users that challenge will face Mayer and Yahoo again. In the past, Yahoo officials failed to see eye to eye with groups that were acquired and competing ideals torpedoed the chances for success. In order for the Tumblr acquisition to work Yahoo officials will have to find a way to benefit from the partnership while encouraging the independence of Tumblr.

Another major problem facing Yahoo is the freedom of content on Tumblr. Numerous blogs on Tumblr include adult content, even pornography, and this is the kind of content that big spending advertisers run from like the plague. Working around those issues offers a major challenge to the success of this partnership as well.

Good or bad, the Tumblr purchase is now complete and time will tell how Yahoo uses the service to continue its shift in focus to a younger, more mobile crowd. Time will tell whether or not the audience will stick around.

 Tumblr Now Faces the Challenge of Change
Bernadette Coleman is the CEO of Advice Interactive Group an award winning Inc 500 digital agency. She has been actively involved in SEO and Internet marketing since 2001. Bernadette is passionate about all things digital including content, search, social and local. Her knowledge and experience have made her a leader in the industry and her passion for innovation and growth has led her company to become one of the leading online marketing and technology firms. As the company founder and CEO, her responsibilities include working with our team leaders to develop and manage the overall growth strategy of the company, developing marketing strategies for our clients, and uncovering business opportunities for all. She writes for multiple blogs and actively shares on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. In her little bit of spare time, Bernadette enjoys audio books and the company of her amazing husband, Tom Coleman and their blended family of 5 children. Together they spend time advocating for brain injury awareness and promoting their nonprofit, TryMunity, a social network for survivors and supporters of traumatic brain injury (TBI). You can read more about her on Google Profile.
 Tumblr Now Faces the Challenge of Change

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3 thoughts on “Tumblr Now Faces the Challenge of Change

    1. Yahoo’s acquisition certainly means a lot to Tumblr’s growth. Tumblr would definitely want to be much bigger blogging platform then wordpress on the web. With its design & UI being revamped often, advertising coming in. It has all the arsenal in it to standout of the crowd in the blogging space.