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This Week I Quit Tumblr (And A Bad Social Media Strategy)

This week I quit Tumblr. OK, it doesn’t feel like that much of an achievement. I only remembered I had a Tumblr account because of an inane email from them this morning, reminding me to check out a whole bunch of Tumblr feeds that were totally unappealing to me. As I moved to opt of their emails I realised there was a more satisfying option, quitting my Tumblr account.

Why Did I Even Have A Tumblr Account?

Tumblr is best known, in my mind at least, for a particular kind of drive-by, snarky humour. At the right moment, it can be fun, as in this personal favourite of mine, a collection of sad Brazilian football fans lamenting their team’s spectacular demise at the 2014 World Cup. The now defunct, once nearly-amusing Obnoxious Expats In Singapore was another example of this kind of humour, living as it often does, on the edge of outrage.

But, like deep fried fast food or sunbathing on a beach this is the kind of thing that’s best enjoyed in small doses, less the long term effects of over indulgence cause irreparable harm.

So, why did I even have a Tumblr account in the first place, if this isn’t a pond I want to swim in? The answer is because of a social media strategy and as you can imagine from my use of the phrase “social media strategy” it was a combination of hope, naiveté, and unwarranted conclusions.

Own All The Social Media

For a long time online strategy was simple. You might have a blog, or be on MySpace, but just having one online presence and doing it well was enough. Then social media took off and you had to be on at least one of Facebook and Twitter or probably both. Then things went kind of crazy as new platforms emerged, there was SoundCloud, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, scores of others and of course, Tumblr.

An idea quickly took hold; as soon as a new platform emerged, grab your username on there and establish some presence. We’re talking 2010-11. Back then I was trying to get my company, Soundwallah, off the ground. So I opened accounts all over the place and as you can imagine, did very little with them other than crowd my inbox with pointless spam and notifications.

The problem with social media strategies is they are often devised by people who spend all day coming up with social media strategies. What makes sense to a person whose work is focussed on SEO, content marketing and trying every new social media platform out there might not be the best fit for a creative who if anything, needs to minimise the amount of time they spend online so they can get on with doing the thing that makes them a worthwhile and interesting member of the human species.

Not that social media specialists are all bad, but it’s best to think of them as crash test dummies, taking the hits so we don’t need to, rather than as role models whose example we should follow, or whose ideas we should act on all the time.

Quitting Tumblr

I couldn’t remember my Tumblr password. I had never logged into the platform on my main computer, so even looking up KeyChain didn’t help. So I had to take the reset my password option. I chose “fucktumblr” and logged in (OK, I was in a bad mood by now).

Deleting the account was straightforward. Just choose the delete account option, then go through the usual “are you sure” page, before being asked to enter your email and password one more time (it felt good to type fucktumblr one more time – actually it never gets old, fucktumblr).

Why Does This Matter

Unlike other things I’ve quit, this change isn’t going to hand me back a lot of time or energy. I wasn’t investing any time in Tumblr before this. The benefit is on a different level.

I’m hardwired for constant improvement, so it’s easy to look at things like social media and wonder, how can I do this better, how can I get more interest in my work. Mostly, that’s a good instinct. But, the own everything strategy was an example of where this can go wrong.

Quitting Tumblr was a reminder that my core approach, Blog+Twitter+Instagram+YouTube, all with my own name, is enough. Actually, it’s a lot. Too much more is kind of crazy really.

This Week I Quit is a (mostly) weekly series where I try, in a personal way, to address the habit of overcommitment. Each week I quit something, it could be an app, a habit, a possession, a word, anything that had a hold on my attention. I explain why I made the choice to quit and what it was like. Last time I Quit Talking To Myself (Kind Of) and you can read all the posts in this series here.

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1 Comment
  • Toni - 21st September 2016

    Interesting. I always though Tumblr was all about pr0n – yes, there are other kinds of photographic content, but that was just their sideline. Sure they didn’t start out that way, but what better environment for stealing and sharing that kind of content? It was always a thing of amazement to find someone was hosting, say, landscapes there.

    Your wider point about social media is good. To me, promoting a business that way is like entering a kind of bottomless pit to hell, where no matter how much energy and time you put in, there’s always another social network that is ESSENTIAL you sign up to and then keep feeding content/likes/comments etc. I signed up to Flickr a while back because it was a source of image sales for some, but the only way to get any interest is by constant feeding. Limiting yourself to those 4 is likely to be more than enough work.

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In his Tokyo studio Fernando combines his life-long passions for art and technology. On the road, he is always looking to take the next wrong turn, just to see what kind of images and stories might unfold. A photographer and writer, with a background in music, Fernando has lived in Chile, Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Read More.

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