Many must have been surprised to hear that Yahoo was buying an ‘unknown’ social media site called Tumblr for $1.1 billion. That topped another recent social media acquisition when Facebook bought Instagram just over a year ago for $1 billion. The much better known social media site, Pinterest, does not seem to be for sale at the moment so if Yahoo was aiming to acquire a social media site, Tumblr, was one of the best candidates available.
What Tumblr Offers
This is how Mary Branscombe, an early and very satisfied user of Tumblr, in ZDnet describes Tumblr:
Many are using Tumblr for, say, hosting our websites or presenting photo-essays and curated links. Fashion brands picked up on Tumblr long before Pinterest came along. It has no higher a proportion of adult content or profanity than the web in general. Tumblr actually is a very well designed mini publishing platform, with optional social elements. It’s part-way between the pick-your-audience social blogging of Livejournal and the micro-publishing of Twitter.
She goes on to say:
I first came across Tumblr (as more than a random link) when I reviewed a how-to book for getting the most from the service. I was surprised by how competent the service was, and how popular. Between 2009 and 2010, Tumblr grew from six to nine million users and 1.5 billion page views. (Stats provider Global Web Index claims Tumblr had 73 million accounts by Q1 2013 with 34 million active users, 46% of them in the 16-24 age group Yahoo would love to reach.) I called it the success story no-one knew about.
Some Tumblr users have been concerned that there could be significant changes but David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, has very clearly stated that Tumblr will continue to be run as it has been and there will be no significant changes
How The Press Sees The Purchase
There are a variety of opinions being expressed on why Yahoo has made this acquisition and how it may develop the association. The BBC headlined the news, Tumblr and Yahoo: Why sex, jokes and gifs are worth $1.1bn. Yahoo is desperate to be cool again.
The Washington Post was more quizzical about the deal:
Will the bet prove a good one? The answer depends on whether the combined company can turn its many millions of users into a interlocking set of services that no competitor can hope to replicate. In short, the question is whether Yahumblr, or Tumbloo, or whatever we want to call it, is more like Google or more like Craigslist.
Forbes on the other hand was more optimistic giving 5 Reasons why Tumblr + Yahoo Is Good For Users. The major reason was a certain complementarity of their cultures.
Why Yahoo Bought Tumblr
In my opinion, the CSMonitor provides the best explanation:
So what does Yahoo want with Tumblr, anyway? Well, the short answer is this: cultural cache. Yahoo, by the standards of the Internet, is a dinosaur – bloated, slow-moving, not particularly hip. Tumblr is the opposite. It’s a young company, founded by a 26-year-old high school drop-out named David Karp. And it has a young base of users, which is particularly attractive to advertisers.
Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal notes today, “[m]uch of the content that people post on Tumblr – from fashion and art to food and travel – doesn’t overlap with what is on Yahoo, which is strong in categories like sports, finance and news.” In other words, Yahoo, in gobbling up Tumblr, won’t risk cannibalizing much of its own business – the acquisition could be a real “value add,” to use the tech industry parlance.
In other words, Yahoo gets a complementary property that will bring some new energy to the group while Tumblr will clearly have whatever resources it needs to continue and grow what it does so well.
So What’s In It For You
It is quite clear that for an individual or for a company, visibility on the Internet can be significantly improved by having a presence on a variety of social media. Up until now, Facebook has stood out as the prime way to achieve this. Google has now confirmed the importance of this by its strong push to develop and grow their Google Plus social medium.
There are a number of other successful social media, and each has a certain demographic user base and provides certain functionalities to present information to their users’ eyes. Given this, it would be a very weak strategy to put all your efforts into only one social medium. Another fact to consider is that users in general will frequent several social media. This means that something they pick up via say Twitter may be shared with their followers in other social media. They in turn may further share it in a variety of social media they may frequent. This overlapping of audiences is very strong and certainly justifies efforts on working in several social media in parallel. The mental picture you might then have as to how new topics are disseminated through social media could be gained by observing how waves spread out and interact on the surface of water as a number of drops of rain fall.
If you have never considered using Tumblr, perhaps now is the time to check it out. In a sense the acquisition by Yahoo has provided a stamp of approval for Tumblr, although there were many enthusiasts prior to that. At its simplest, Tumblr combines the virtues of Twitter and Instagram but with much stronger functionality. It is extremely well designed for ease of use and publishing an image with an accompanying article could not be easier. This could well be a teaser article to encourage readers to visit the main company website or business blog.
One should not be put off by the fact that almost half the audience for Tumblr is in the 16-24 age group. Conversely this means that at least half the audience is over 25. The attractiveness of the information that can be presented via Tumblr would certainly compensate for this reduced audience share. Since the information can be developed by curation from other sources, the amount of effort needed to create Tumblr posts should not be a major drawback.
One final major aspect that should be mentioned is that Tumblr posts display extremely well on smart phone screens. With the world going increasingly mobile and with the support that will come from Yahoo once the acquisition is completed, checking how Tumblr can work for you is certainly something that should be on your priority To-Do list.