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Tumblr Takes a Tumble
September 1, 2011 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Tumblr is sending bloggers to New York Fashion Week (again) in an attempt to reach out to the fashion industry, but some in the industry are not impressed.

Digitalista: So, I am sure you have all heard that Tumblr is sending some bloggers to fashion week again this season. I have also had the pleasure of seeing their sponsorship proposal being shopped around to brands, which I am not supposed to be talking about. I will say this… someone is completely out of their goddamn mind.

The Social Warrior: So, let me ask you: do you think I will in good conscience recommend a paid partnership between a client and Tumblr at this point in time? NO! Let me make it even more clear ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Complaints about the Tumblr/NYFW setup have been heard before.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
One day you're in. The next day, you're out. Please pack your knives and go. You're fired.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:45 AM on September 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


So wait, some people use Tumblr for something other than paging through unending successions of reblogged naked pictures? So I heard? From this, uh, one guy... Tumblr? What? Never heard of it.
posted by nanojath at 10:51 AM on September 1, 2011


Well, yeah, Tumblr sucks. It's also vulnerable to someone coming along and being so much better at doing what Tumblr does.

But screw the fashion industry. They're built to be unimpressed with flashes of being impressed for little to no reason.
posted by inturnaround at 10:52 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of poor writing behind those links.
posted by hyperizer at 10:53 AM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of poor writing behind those links.

ha yeah.

I think the problem is that tumblr has taken too much money and are trying to leapfrog into a position rather than let brands continue coming to them organically and building the tools to support them
posted by the mad poster! at 10:58 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The complaint seems to come down to stop spending time/money on fashion week when you need to develop your platform more. Which is as always with such things a false dichotomy.

Tumblr does need to be better at communicating it's roadmap, definitely. Esp for businesses so they can invest in it with some certainty that useful tools will show up down the line.

Oh wait also a complaint from someone who "comes from a place of trust and authority" says that twice they did not treat her clients with sufficient deference.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:59 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the first time in a decade or so, I checked out one of the fat September issues the fashion mags put out. And it seemed like such a slow, clumsy way of following what is supposed to be a fast-paced subject.

I'd much rather get fashion news from the bloggers than from Anna Wintour at this point.
posted by Trurl at 10:59 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have also had the pleasure of seeing their sponsorship proposal being shopped around to brands, which I am not supposed to be talking about. I will say this… someone is completely out of their goddamn mind.

So.... what? Tumblr tried to propose F**k-yeah-[brand-name] and that's not working out so hot? NDAs notwithstanding, just throwing out breathless incredulity over something that the vast majority of readers couldn't possibly know about is neither interesting or helpful. Just makes me think that Jessica Coghan is a drama queen. Also when her husband, Raman Kia, writes in support of her position with reference to his own company's unsuccessful meetings with Tumblr by saying:
I have this year tried on two occasions to work with Tumblr on a professional level. So, I am coming to the table from a position of truth and authority.
He just sounds like a high-handed douchewaffle. It's immediately apparent that he's impressed with himself, but he provides nothing besides very thin, one-sided anecdotal evidence of his authority or his truthfulness.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:00 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the problem is that tumblr has taken too much money and are trying to leapfrog into a position rather than let brands continue coming to them organically and building the tools to support them

That sounds right and is a hallmark of a young company I think. Their marketing folks are out-reaching the maturity/utility of the platform for business.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:00 AM on September 1, 2011


Tumblr has its uses. If you want to make a blog that follows the form of the original blogs -- as a collection of regularly updated links organized chronologically -- it's superb. And it's tapped into a social component that other sites have failed at, primarily because they make it so easy to reblog good content. People who are good at scouring the net for worthwhile content, and curating that content, get a following quite quickly. It's what I use it for, and my own Tumbl blog, Five Minutes Into the Future, has gained a following quite a lot faster than anything else I have done, and satisfies a curatorial urge that I'm not sure I would want to attempt on other blogging platforms.

That being said, there is woefilly little new material produced in the Tumblr community, in part because everybody seems to be endlessly reblogging everybody else. When I wish to do something that is more creative and less curatorial, I gravitate toward other platforms, and it seems a lot of other people do too.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:02 AM on September 1, 2011


There seems to be a LOT of axe-grinding by both Coghan and Kia in those links, rather than straight (realistic) criticism of Tumblr. It'd be fascinating to hear the other side of the story, because the whole "coming to the table from a position of TRUTH and AUTHORITY" bit is a touch ranty.
posted by fet at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2011


I'm using tumblr to keep a private blog about something that is going on right now, that I don't want to blog about on my old, mothballed blog.

I don't find Tumblr to be that compelling of a tool, in general, and I'm not sure why brands would be excited to work with them - I guess I just don't see the appeal, because you can just . .have a blog. And post photos. And while reblogging is cool and all, I'm not sure it's got a lot of weight outside the Tumblr community. So unless you're . .what? Targeting people who already use tumblr? I'm not sure what great good it's supposed to do. Of anything that's "curatorial," I'm beginning to think that Pinterest is the thing - for example Nina Garcia's Pinterest is . .INTERESTING . .and doesn't have a long tail of "reblogged by this list of 1,000 people I don't know who they are," which I just feel like looks like a bunch of trash at the bottom of every tumblr post.

So. I don't wish tumblr ill but I'm feeling more and more that Pinterest is doing what they do, specifically for a segment like Fashion, better.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2011


Medieval Maven, it's just a channel like facebook or twitter or email
posted by the mad poster! at 11:15 AM on September 1, 2011


Targeting people who already use Tumblr is not a bad gig—over a year ago Tumblr had 6 mil. users and 1.5 bil. pageviews a month. source
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:21 AM on September 1, 2011


the mad poster! - I know that, I am actually in the advertising biz and we do a fair bit of social media. But I think that Pinterest is doing it better, and of everything, Tumblr seems more insular to me than other social media tools. At the end of the day it's a blog. You can make it look a particular way or add reblogging or whatever, but it's not terribly compelling, IMHO.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:30 AM on September 1, 2011


Besides the fact, 6 million users? Why on earth would I put my resources there when facebook has
*particularly* if they are unprofessional and provide little to no analytics?
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:33 AM on September 1, 2011


an interesting take from a venture capitalist on companies waiting for users first, brands second vs. reaching out to brands before users

A VC: Users First, Brands Second.
posted by the mad poster! at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2011


Just makes me think that Jessica Coghan is a drama queen. Also when her husband, Raman Kia

Interesting! Did not know the two were married (since I really have no idea who they are).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:43 AM on September 1, 2011


*particularly* if they are unprofessional and provide little to no analytics?

Because your research indicates that your target demo/niche market is more densely represented in Tumblr than in Facebook?
posted by spicynuts at 11:43 AM on September 1, 2011


Well, okay, but that would be the only reason, really. But given a lot of brands' attitude toward social media (which consists of a lot of "prove it" and demands about ROI, which I get) I think (and I'm willing to be wrong here) you'd have to sink some resources into determining that the 6 million people on tumblr somehow are the people you want to reach. Like the link to the VC guy says, Facebook prioritized users and then was able to sell the users to brands. Like it or not, that's the game with brands and social media, and again, I'm not sure tumblr's there yet w/r/t having the ability to make a case for themselves - and I also think they're probably losing ground.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:50 AM on September 1, 2011


Why on earth would I put my resources there when facebook has ...

Devils advocate here, but I think the differences in engagement between Tumblr and FB is important. As a media sharing/curation platform Tumblr enables the kind of shared media experience that really engages your followers/fans/customers/whatevers.

In that regard I think Tumblr engages tastemakers more than FB, which I think for most businesses functions mostly as just a broadcasting service.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:53 AM on September 1, 2011


While I don't really get the appeal of Tumblr as a marketing platform or know the world of fashion marketing that well, it seems that the line "SOME in the industry are not impressed" here refers to a single incident this couple had instead of an industry wide critique.

Something about where Raman Kia writes "it came as a surprise to my client that the person representing Tumblr at this meeting had no idea who my client was" rubs me the wrong way, and even more so when he goes on to say "my team and I represent 15 of the most prestigious fashion brands in the world. You would think we would be treated with professionalism". He even says "[m]y team and I are just the kind of people that make social media platforms really rich."

It sounds like they sat down for a meeting where the sheer power of their clients names failed to impress or bowl over the Tumblr guy, and then he was similarly shocked when Tumblr didn't really follow through on some sort of informal agreement (if they really bailed on something where a contract was in place, I doubt these various blog post complaints would be the venue where they would seek redemption). Perhaps the fashion world is one that thrives on name dropping and the marketing people were super stoked on a job they had with a big client and they just happened upon someone at Tumblr who was aloof, or more likely just didn't care.

He uses the car industry analogy. Imagine some marketing guy for Mercedes comes up to me and says, "hey, I represent Mercedes, can you make us a bunch of posters really quickly to put up around NYC subways before Monday?" And I say, "uhhh, how much?" And they say, "It's Mercedes, this one is just a sort of test, and then we can talk money on future things if this works out." And I say, "ok, I'll think about it." And then I take a nap and end up watching like 4 discs of The Wire and eating a cheesesteak and say, "Nahh, I don't really have time for the poster thingy." And the marketing guy is all "WHAAA!? It's Mercedes!" And I say, "Meh, I don't even own a car. I ride a Ross from the 70s with downtube shifters." And they say, "Arrrrgh! You just wait until the internet hears of this."

There aren't a lot of specifics in this story, but that is what I imagine happened.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 12:06 PM on September 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


Damnit, the Wire and cheesesteaks have sunk so many projects ...
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:19 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Julie Fredrickson link is gone.
posted by pinky at 12:35 PM on September 1, 2011


Yes, it seems to be! The majority of her comments are preserved on BetaBeat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:39 PM on September 1, 2011


Thanks for posting this! :)
posted by zarq at 12:57 PM on September 1, 2011


>So wait, some people use Tumblr for something other than paging through unending successions of reblogged naked pictures?<

You joke, but I actually kind of thought that’s what it was. I’ve never really paid much attention to what they’re supposed to be and I have to think I’m not alone. A link goes to a web site, I sometimes notice that there’s a little logo for something in the corner, but I don’t know what it means and don’t care.

Which means I didn’t really understand the headline. Tumblrerrrr does things? They send people places? Does that photo site do things?
posted by bongo_x at 8:28 PM on September 1, 2011


there is a fashion week in nyc? mon dieu.
posted by 3mendo at 12:29 AM on September 2, 2011


More coverage (second link includes screenshots of the fees Tumblr is requesting for NYFW coverage).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:15 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


More from BetaBeat: The Legal Risks of Rich Tong’s Tumblr Fashion Week Proposal

This whole thing is incredibly amateur hour at best. At worst, it's completely unethical and possibly illegal.
posted by dhammond at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2011


The Coverage Of This Tumblr Fashion Brouhaha Is Kind Of Irresponsible - Village Voice
… those headlines -- "The Fashion Industry Wants Tumblr to Get its Fucking Act Together," etc -- are a little forceful for a story that essentially boils down to some individual people becoming frustrated with an Internet service their companies have put money into and that isn't meeting their expectations.

… "Fashion Week Flameout: Why The Industry Is Erupting at Tumblr and Rich Tong," … No one is quoted by name. There is no statement from Tumblr. There is no evidence of "The Industry" as a whole doing anything resembling "erupting." End scene
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2011


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