Yesterday Betabeat wrote a post about some of the frustrations folks in the fashion industry have been venting about Tumblr–on their personal Tumblrs of course. Well, apparently, the story struck a nerve. Raman Kia, the Head of Digital Marketing at Starworks Group, laid things out in a post titled Exposed: The Actual Problem With Tumblr: (The text, below, has been lightly edited for brevity.)
My team and I represent 15 of the most prestigious and powerful brands in the fashion space. I am also married to the aforementioned Jessica Coghan of Digitalista fame. I have this year tried on two occasions to work with Tumblr on a professional level. So, I am coming to the table from a position of truth and authority.
In the first instance we invited Tumblr to a meeting with one of our clients. I am not in a position to reveal any names but I can assure you that this brand is one of the largest online retailers of luxury fashion globally. The meeting was set to discuss mutually benefitting opportunities. So, it came as a surprise to my client that the person representing Tumblr at this meeting had no idea who my client was. Let me just put this in perspective: This is one of the biggest retailer of luxury fashion in the world (did I already say that?) – and probably one of the most reputable and prestigious. It’s like saying I am the Director of Automotive but I’ve never heard of BMW or Mercedes!
Like I said, my team and I represent 15 of the most prestigious fashion brands in the world. You would think we would be treated with professionalism. So, let me ask you: do you think I will in good conscience recommend a paid partnership between a client and Tumblr at this point in time?
NO! Let me make it even more clear ABSOLUTELY NOT! My team and I are just the kind of people that make social media platforms really rich. We have been spending dollars on Facebook since media programs have been available; we have been part of every media based beta program on twitter; we were one of the very first to do a paid promotion with a fashion brand on Foursquare; and I am almost certain that under our guidance our clients were one of the very first handful of fashion brands to join Instagram, and for what it’s worth Tumblr.
Let me be clear our experience with all of these platforms has not always been without it’s problems. Not all Facebook reps have been fantastic, Twitter support for the longest time was hard to come by, Tristen Walker for a long time was a lone ranger at Foursquare – you get the picture – but I can with my hand on my heart say one thing with full confidence: at a senior level all of these networks and platforms showed us empathy in the face of our concerns.
So far Tumblr has behaved with prejudice, without empathy, and without apology and, in doing so, it has bitten the hand it hopes will feed it someday. So make no mistake Tumblr can not correct this by developing platform analytics – it needs a change of regime and a change of culture.
PS. This blog was written using wordpress. I love Tumblr. I have a Tumblr page. It is really fun – but then again so is the Disney store.
In the post, Mr. Kia pointed out that he has had terrific experiences working with other small startups like Foursquare and Instagram.
A number of media sources in New York had aired this kind of grievance before, often directed pointedly at Tumblr’s fashion director Rich Tong. But this is the first time a major agency in the fashion industry has publicly derided Tumblr’s business practices and given specific, if guarded, examples.
Tumblr president and resident grown-up John Maloney issued a terse response on his Tumblr: “Gradatim Ferociter” which translates loosely as, “step by step, courageously”.