Tumblr Activism: A New Socially Conscious Perspective
Is Tumblr out of Fashion?
According to most metrics, the micro-blogging and social media platform Tumblr has not had a great year. Sold to Yahoo for $1 billion back in 2013, there was a peak in 2016 in the number of critics noting that the platform had gone downhill, and the network has generally seen its usership on a downward slope.
As Fortune reported earlier this year, back when the acquisition took place, “the deal for Tumblr was then seen as a bold bet by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to revitalize the company by co-opting a Web property with strong visitor traffic but little revenue.” But 2016 saw Yahoo downsizing the company, including cutting jobs and closing offices. A widely-read longform piece published in Mashable about the company’s demise at the hands of Yahoo noted that “Tumblr has fallen out of the top 100 list of free iOS apps in the U.S. as of the beginning of June, according to data from AppAnnie, an app analytics service. Research firm eMarketer projects that “the gap [in users] between Tumblr and its competitors will widen through 2020.”
Does Tumblr’s Future Sparkle Bright?
However, it looks like there could be a potential bright spot in Tumblr’s future – or at the very least an area of enthusiasm that the company should look to leverage in 2017 if it hopes to stay competitive. A look at Tumblr’s annual report revealed that the network has become a kind of hotbed of political and social activism among its young users.
The top social trends talked about on the network in 2016 serves as a kind of reflection of this. They include:
- Black Lives Matter
- Police brutality
- Reproductive rights
Tumblr seems to have duly noted the fact that their platform is being used as much for meaningful causes as it is for memes and fashion blogs. In the post-election social media landscape, where networks, Facebook and Twitter are grappling with the impact of fake news perpetuated on their networks, Tumblr has rolled out a number of new features that are specifically geared towards political activism and its so-called “woke” users.
Tumblr: A New Action
“We have a very woke crowd on Tumblr,” Victoria McCullough, social impact and public policy manager at Tumblr, told Mashable. “We saw a lot of activity in that community over the election, and have since we’ve been around. What we wanted with Action was to try to add a little more volume to that conversation by creating a space.”
The main feature is Action on Tumblr, a platform that users can leverage to amplify marginalized voices, educate each other on current events, and share resources for those who want to take action both on and offline.
The hub uses two of Tumblr’s existing features: the Q&A format and the Ask Box feature. As Mashable said: “The Q&A format Answer Time allows individual activists and people from marginalized communities to tell their stories. A new spinoff, Issue Time, presents a panel of experts and advocates to answer questions around a particular issue, from gun violence prevention and immigration reform to women’s rights and LGBTQ equality.”
As Tumblr is the original source of now mainstream movements such as Black Lives Matter and #BlackOutDay, Tumblr clearly recognizes that its young and socially conscious demographic has a kind of enthusiasm for these topics that is perhaps lacking – or at least not as pronounced – on other social networks. It remains to be seen whether this new-found focus on activism will be enough to revive the flailing network, but it is a strong indication that Tumblr is willing to innovate and respond to how its users are actually using the network. This is a promising strategy, providing they can avoid hemorrhaging too many users in the meantime.
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