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Observations on Yahoo buying Tumblr

By Scott Tibbs, May 29, 2013

Yahoo created quite a bit of interest when they announced they were buying Tumblr. Yahoo has tried to get into the social media game before, with the aborted Yahoo 360 effort, but that fizzled quickly and was never a serious threat to the supremacy of MySpace (which has since declined) and Facebook. Tumblr is a popular service, especially with Millennials, so Yahoo is obviously hoping that this will launch them back into the top tier with Facebook and Google.

Here are three things that Yahoo can do to improve Tumblr:

  • Add a native comment system. Tumblr users can install Disqus, but there is no native comment system for the platform. Yahoo already has comments enabled for their Yahoo News articles, so this is the most obvious solution. Now that Google has enabled Google Plus comments for Blogger, this would be a step to help Tumblr compete.
  • Add a "Theme Builder" so users can design a theme without knowing HTML or Tumblr's specific code for various types of posts. Google's Blogger already has this feature if you upgrade your blog to the new format. WordPress.com, another popular blog hosting service, only allows users to pick from a series of templates. Pre-built templates, a theme builder application and allowing users to build their own template by hand would be a perfect storm of features.
  • Allow Tumblr blogs to import posts and comments from other blogs so people who have been blogging for some time with another service do not lose their archives when they move to Tumblr. Other blogging services already allow this, and more people using other services might make the jump to Tumblr if they did not have to start from scratch.

Tumblr is a unique blogging platform, combining features of Twitter and Facebook with a traditional blogging service, plus multiple different types of post templates (text, video, links and pictures) and an easy-to-use interface. Adding a few more features could make it a big plus for Yahoo. Hopefully, they will not drop the ball.