The State of the Blogosphere: Blogging in the Post-Tumblr Age

Sep 11, 2013

Article ImageBack in May, Social Media Today compiled case studies from several reputable sources regarding the correlation between blogging and sales for businesses. Unanimously, studies show that maintaining an active blog can provide an increase in traffic of up to 210% to a website. Clearly, blogging still remains one of the most commonly produced and read forms of content marketing (in fact, many experts find that blogging is the first thing someone thinks of when mentioning content marketing).

And, just like any other form of marketing, the blogosphere is evolving.

This became obvious when, Yahoo! purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion in May. Most popular with blogging teenagers, skeptics wonder what Yahoo! can bring to the Tumblr platform, especially when contrasting the more formal news approach Yahoo! has toward content, and Tumblr's relaxed, day-in-the-life style. However, Yahoo!'s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, assures skeptics that there is nothing to worry about.

"We promise not to screw it up," Mayer said in a Yahoo! press release. "Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster."

Jay Baer, president of marketing consultancy Convince & Convert, and author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype, says that Yahoo!'s acquisition of Tumblr is not about making money, since Tumblr doesn't see profit outside of investor backing. While they will be in an experimental stage for awhile and may come to a place at some point where they can monetize Tumblr content, it's more about being everywhere at this point.

"Yahoo! bought Tumblr because they know the future is mobile and that young people are turning away from Facebook in droves," Baer says. "Tumblr becomes to Yahoo! what Instagram is to Facebook - the opportunity to be relevant to youth in a mobile-dominated world."

Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, agrees that it's about positioning, but not just for Yahoo!. "Tumblr is an appealing investment because it's a top 10 social media network according to Nielsen whose core audience is teens and twenty-somethings, an attractive and difficult-to-reach demographic for advertisers," she says. "Just as bloggers who contribute to Huffington Post get much broader reach and visibility without monetary compensation, the same logic applies to Tumblr. To build an audience from scratch without an established base takes work and smart bloggers leverage every opportunity available to them."

Bloggers can monetize their content on Tumblr even now. Cohen points out that the "Into the Gloss" is a beauty-oriented magazine on Tumblr that sells advertising. Target's "On the Dot" Tumblr blog shows readers how to style their products and then links for buying. So the connection with Yahoo! provides potential for more readership, and more money, for both Tumblr users and Yahoo!.

This entire transition begs the question: Where is blogging headed? Will more corporations look to purchase blogging platforms? Will blogging become more about direct monetization rather than writing about everyday life for individuals or directing the sales funnel for content providers?

In terms of corporate ownerships, Baer says all that's really left to acquire is WordPress. "I could see Google buying [it], but that would be an admission of defeat on their own Blogger platform," he says. Baer also points out that Google isn't likely to make that move right now because of the focus of Google+ integration. "But I could see Yahoo! buying WordPress, to give them an instant foothold into a huge percentage of the longer form content creators online."

That being said, Baer believes that blogging, in general, is changing. "I see blogging becoming increasingly visual, rather than text-based, which certainly fits neatly into Tumblr's world," he says. "The reality is, barriers to creating or consuming multi-media have essentially disappeared, and we're just scratching the surface of the photo/video blogging era."

Cohen believes that the future of blogging platforms will depend on how connected devices evolve and how people use them to create and consume content. With the acquisition of Tumblr, Yahoo! officials appear to think that evolution leans toward increasingly mobile consumption of information, and necessitates getting involved in the blogosphere early on. Only time will tell.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)