Today Tumblr got a new feature. No, not the ability to embed Tweets. No, not unlimited posts and messages. No, not instant porn. (Although that’s kind of a feature, if you think about it.)
Instead, it released Fan Mail.
What is fan mail? What can it do? Is it an extension to the message system? Can I add bolds and italics to my fan mail? Can I attach pictures and videos to my fan mail? Can I draw hearts and smiley faces around the name of the person that I’m sending my fan mail to? Clearly, if I’m sending fan mail, I’ll want to draw hearts around the person’s name, because I’m clearly their biggest fan.
I don’t really know what this feature does. That’s the big problem. When you’re releasing something that you claim is BIG, you want to fill in your users about it. You want to let them know what you’re releasing so that they can use it right out of the box with minimal questions or issues. That’s basic marketing strategy. That’s common sense. That’s the opposite of Michele Bachmann.
And also: Tumblarity. Remember Tumblarity? It turned Tumblr into the equivalent of a middle school beauty pageant for the few months that it existed. Suddenly the idea of Tumblr was less about blogging and more about how many points you had, how much you could sell yourself to the Internet so that they would interact with your content. It didn’t become about the content anymore. It became about the ego.
I don’t think that Fan Mail will have that sort of affect on Tumblr. But you can’t doubt that it will make Tumblr slightly more like a popularity contest than it already is. My only problem is this: Marketing a new messaging system as “Fan Mail” will give impressionable young bloggers the idea that they’re celebrities with fans who praise every word that they read on their phone/MacBook/iPad/Nook/Kindle/PC/Amiga/Nintendo/whatever screens.
The truth is: No one really cares that much about your blog.
Just keep it at regular old mail. I don’t need any fans attached. It’s not that hot in my room anyway.