Yahoo’s Tumblr raises questions

Image by Taylor Evans

For 1.1 billion dollars, Yahoo purchased the rights to Tumblr, a social media site that claims less popularity than big names like Facebook and Twitter, but, at this moment, still hosts 111.9 million blogs and 51.8 billion posts.

The media has rushed to uncover the alleged “secrets” behind Tumblr, such as why Yahoo would shell out so much cash for it, and what kind of content users post.
Unfortunately, major news institutions including NBC News choose to focus on Tumblr’s “adult content,” which is a relatively minor area of Tumblr in comparison to the majority of its material- fandom.

Fandom is a term that generally means a group of people who obsess over a book series, TV show, movie, or other cultural phenomenon.

“On Tumblr, the gods are obvious: One Direction, Joss Whedon, Sherlock’s creator Stephen Moffat and star Benedict
Cumberbatch, K-pop group Exo, Homestuck creator Andrew Hussie, the Green brothers [“Vlogbrothers” John and Hank Green], and Avengers actor Tom Hiddleston,” said Aja Romano for The Daily Dot.

While reporters may dismiss Tumblr as a refuge for teenagers, the largest demographic of users is actually ages 18-25.

What makes fans so attracted to Tumblr is its growing community, but also its layout. While Facebook encourages posting personal information, Tumblr is built on its “reblogging” feature.

Rather than have a profile, each Tumblr user has one or more blogs.

When content is posted, such as an edited photo or a text post with a reaction GIF (a form of computer image that moves as an animation, but is soundless, so text is often placed over the image to reflect what the characters are saying), users can reblog the material, spreading it around the website.

With this set up, a simple five word text post can be quickly reblogged over 500,000 times. In fact, they often are which adds to the novelty and atmosphere of Tumblr. After the announcement that Yahoo had “taken over” Tumblr, users reacted negatively, to say the least.

“Stop Yahoo” posts were everywhere, and ridiculous rumors spread, including claims that the beloved blue Tumblr interface would turn purple.
To date, Yahoo has made no changes to the site whatsoever. But this raises the question- what is Yahoo going to do with Tumblr?

The site features no ads on blogs, and only one is viewable at a time on users’ dashboards (the home screen of Tumblr, where they are able to view posts from blogs they follow and their own).

Changing Tumblr’s layout and design in any way would surely cause a vicious backlash.

Advertisers in the past have been able to generate a profit from Tumblr by creating blogs that promote their products, and targeting their audience through “tags.”
Tumblr users can search for posts related to specific topics by using these tags.

If Yahoo wishes to make a profit, they cannot impose advertising on the Tumblr community. Instead, they should win over the users by targeting the heart of Tumblr- the fandoms.