Digital Marketing and Tech Trends

What We Can Learn From the Great Tumblr Blackout of 2010

Most people who live and breathe on the internet are well aware that short-form blogging outpost Tumblr has now been down for over 24 hours. Those are a lot of spurned bloggers. Although the platform’s subscribers (which, as mentioned before, include us) are among the most loyal that any web brand could hope for. But what happens when you take away that loyal web-mob’s trusty method of self-expression and stay relatively quiet on all updates? A frenzy.

Revolutionary in many ways–unlike BlogSpot, Twitter, or WordPress, Tumblr demonstrates an active interest in the pursuits of its users–the Tumblr team’s inability to be openly communicative with its users via other channels of social media, like Twitter, appears inconsistent with the typical level of user engagement it demonstrates.

Since it went down yesterday, the company has only issued two tweets (this and this), maintaining that they are unable to post any major notices about their outages as the blogging platform was down. This sort of tight-lipped response is, fundamentally, poor form for any brand in the social media sphere, as it’s antithetical to the “social media” part of that.

Another tight-lipped response comes from Tumblr President John Maloney, who simply says that the platform hasn’t lost all its users’ data.

But the lack of a developers’ blog for Tumblr staff shouldn’t mean poor communication between the platform and its users.

In their failure to communicate, there’s a lesson for us affiliate marketers as well. It’s about adaptability. Whether you’re an affiliate network or a work-from-home affiliate, you’re well-versed with internet outages. Last week, Blue Phoenix Media HQ weathered an epic one and came out the other side stronger and more resilient. With our connection functioning only intermittently, client communication and other tasks had to be completed on laptops and mobile devices instead of desktops and landlines.

Inconvenient? Sure. But at the least, questions didn’t go unanswered and publishing partners weren’t left in the dark. And although we’re not the first firm to have weathered an outage and we won’t be the last, it does beg the question that how does a top brand valued at $135M get away with leaving its users clueless?