What’s Going On With Tumblr?

All of a sudden everything seems to be getting designated a platform even when the claim is a little weak.

The latest is Tumblr which frankly, if it is anything other than a service provider is a network or maybe, at a stretch, a social network and perhaps, an emerging community (but a very fractured and erratic one). In some ways, Tumblr is like the webring of the 21st century the only difference being that it is nicely designed and ‘ultra-hip’.

Yet Tumblr seems to be attracting a huge amount of interest from media and publishing companies as this Read Write Web blog post makes clear:

“Part of what we do is experiment on different platforms, and it seemed apparent to us that there was a sizable number of NPR fans on Tumblr,” he says. “It’s less about pageviews and more about engaging a community that enjoys NPR.”

Carvin says NPR is taking a very experimental approach to Tumblr in terms of curating content to share, engaging one-on-one with followers and determining how to voice the blog.

He adds that he is eager to get feedback from fans, but that there is no “grand plan” for what they intend to accomplish.
NPR Looks to Engage New Audiences On Tumblr.

Taking the Tumblr plunge is just as stupid as taking the Twitter plunge or the blogging plunge if you haven’t the faintest idea why you are doing it? Why on earth would NPR get involved in this while at the same time admitting that they don’t have a ‘grand plan’?

Sure, experimentation is interesting, valid and worth engaging in, but this kind of shot in the dark stuff reeks of chasing an illusory ‘cool’ crowd.

Tumblr is interesting in its own way and there seems to be some kind of community building there, but Tumblr is NOT the solution for publishers and media companies, their own websites offer so much more opportunity for engaging with audiences, audiences who are coming TO them, not being interrupted BY them. Quite a few publishers could spend some time sorting that side of things out before running off to the next pretty ‘platform’ they see.

Still coughing, which is annoying!
Eoin

Go Read This | Beyond Here There Be Dragons | Bait ‘n’ Beer

I thinK I have by accident stumbled across an pretty current topic for my TOC Frankfurt talk in October.

There are a few publishers who get this and do, in fact, have the people and systems to have a decent chance of pulling it off. Most that I can think of, Harlequin excepted, have their roots in the magazine business where these skills are like mother’s milk. Amazon certainly understands it as well.

While you’re busy building your community, don”t forget the object of the exercise is to make money from its members. Otherwise, you’re in Dragon Country.

via Beyond Here There Be Dragons | Bait ‘n’ Beer.

Go Read This | Contrast | The Blog | On Communities and Content

Odd how this, from the design perspective, chimes with the discussion over at Mike Shatzkin’s blog yesterday and my thinking about Niche Veritcals.

Step one would be “Attract a large number of potential users”. Without doubt the best way to do this is with good content. Content precedes design.

Only when you have a good audience should you start thinking about how best to serve it and turn it into a community. Unfortunately it’s very rare that we get emails saying “Guys I’ve got over 2,000 people hitting my cricket site every week, commenting, emailing me, and I’d like to build an network to support this“.

via Contrast | The Blog | On Communities and Content.

Go Read This | Publishers, brands, and the change to b2c – The Shatzkin Files

Yes! Yes! Yes!

A brand that is in between these two is “Dummies.” It definitely creates a meaningful shortcut for a consumer; they recognize it and it tells them “this book explains the basics on the subject in a way that requires you to bring almost no knowledge to it for it to be useful.” But because Dummies covers many subjects under the sun, it would be difficult to make use of it for audience-gathering or direct marketing the way Harlequin is employed.

You wouldn’t “subscribe” to new offerings, sight unseen, from either Penguin or Dummies. That means that, in at least one very important way, those brands aren’t as useful as Harlequin. Why? They’re too broad. General Motors wouldn’t ever have sold nearly as many cars if they called all the cars “GMs” to create a megabrand and had lost the distinction between Chevrolet and Cadillac. Trying to create “one big brand” if it captures unrelated content or unrelated audiences could be “one big mistake.”

My own theory is that publishers have to completely re-think their imprints in light of the need to move from b2b to b2c. Imprints at big houses are almost always silos with no discernible b2c meaning. In fact, the names of smaller houses, because smaller houses tend to focus on subject areas, can more readily have meaning to consumers.

via Publishers, brands, and the change to b2c – The Shatzkin Files.

Oddly enough my Pecha Kucha session at TOCFrankfurt last year touched on this. I’ve only the slides, must see if I can track down an audio version,

What Publishers Can Learn From The Godfather

Great post by Dan Blank on publishing and the Godfather!

One interesting example, as usual, is Apple. They created entire economies around their products that encouraged new companies and new products to come into being. Their App Store is indicative of this – it is a new form of marketplace. Apple even designs their gadgets with tons of room for third-parties to develop accessories for them, such as iPhone cases. It’s as if Apple deliberately designs products that are easily scratched or shattered, and offers incredibly poor cases of their own, specifically so that third parties can offer “solutions” and inventive cases and accessories.

via What Publishers Can Learn From The Godfather.