Future of Tumblr Falls in the Hands of Yahoo!

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Yahoo!’s acquisition of Tumblr has many speculating about the future of the internet’s favorite micro-blogging platform / social network / artsy porn aggregator. Optimists need look no further than the subhead of Yahoo!’s official press release for reassurance, while others point to Geocities (R.I.P.), Upcoming (R.I.P.), Delicious (gutted and sold off for pennies on the dollar) and Flickr (ignored for years, just recently got long overdue updates and a good mobile app) as case studies on how not to deal with recently purchased, vibrant web communities.

Regardless of the eventual outcomes, deals like this have become common in social media and the prepared among us would do well to have contingencies in place should this deal or other affect your social campaigns. Here’s a couple tips to get you started:

  1. Keep a suitcase packed. While Tumblr is not yet primetime real estate for brands, any publisher would do well to make sure that more substantial content pieces like blog posts can be transported from one platform to another. Data portability is a good idea in general (remember Geocities?) and Tumblr’s competitors have already seen an uptick on imports from Tumblr refugees.
  2. Monitor the credibility of a platform. Initial response to the deal saw a great deal of dismay from hipsters who see Yahoo! as a dinosaur that is mainly useful for hosting their parents’ email accounts. Tumblr is trading some of their indie cred for money, support and resources — that credibility will never come back in the eyes of some. If your main objective is to be out on the bleeding edge, Tumblr might not be that place any more. But it will be more stable and will see a broadening of its user base. With any platform, if your message aligns with the expectations of your audience, you’ll do well. The key is to keep an eye on the changing audience and their expectations.

In the end, successful campaigns will do what they always do: monitor the response of the audience and react accordingly to get a consistent message across. But a bombshell of a deal like this is always a good opportunity to take a moment and get a lay of the land.

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