Social Media L’ink’ages and the Resurrection of a Tattoo Industry Website

While surfing the Internet in search of material for my previous blog post, “Is Social Media Behind that Rethink on Your ‘Ink’?”, I stumbled upon a fantastic, homegrown online forum called Tattoo Hero (http://tattoohero.com/). Created in 2012, it was partly designed to offer cloud software functionalities to facilitate the running of tattoo business’ operations [1], but beyond that, to connect local tattoo artists and shops with potential customers [2] and otherwise provide a reputable platform for sharing artist profiles, articles and blog posts, images, photos, videos and other content of interest to tattoo enthusiasts [3] via the Internet. As a burgeoning online gathering place, Steve Tannahill – CEO and one of the founders of the Tattoo Hero website – viewed the tool as filling a critical communication gap for the tattoo industry:

Without actually knowing someone directly associated with an artist or having someone mention an artist, it’s kind of hard to discover them. You can’t simply do an Ottawa Instagram search for tattoo shops and then all these tattoo shops show up. We’re trying to streamline that process so that it’s a little easier for someone who is really new to tattooing or doesn’t have friends who get tattoos to discover the artists [4].

As a product, Tattoo Hero was therefore envisioned as a “a niche social network” that would offer otherwise offline tattoo artists a discoverable web presence [5] and enable “people to share their tattoo stories the way they would with people in person” [6]. In other words, it was seemingly designed to function as a social media platform.

Intrigued upon my discovery of the website, I wandered down the rabbit hole and found myself immersed in more information than I could have ever imagined would be revealed by one resource about the Ottawa-Gatineau tattoo scene. I was originally inspired by my Tattoo Hero findings to report back on the types of linkages the forum was helping to forge among individual artists and businesses across the city. However, when I recently attempted to revisit my newfound information gateway, I unexpectedly encountered an “error” message and faced the harsh reality that my Tattoo Hero rabbit hole had vanished. Puzzled, and panicked by the fact that I was unable to retrace my steps back into the website to complete my research, I started browsing through online content about the product to see if I could gain any explanation for its disappearance.

Beyond several articles detailing the web platform’s genesis and rise to fame, I found nothing to suggest that the website had gone defunct. Yet aside from those news stories, all that remained as evidence of its existence were Tattoo Hero corporate social media profiles and records of the business’ activities on the various platforms utilized by the Tattoo Hero team. Interestingly, the conversations generated by the website’s corporate team via its social media presence struck me as having given rise to the type of information exchange the company’s product (i.e., the website) was itself intended to encourage and facilitate.

The product that is Tattoo Hero is arguably still alive and thriving by virtue of its social media legacy. Through its Instagram account, for example, Tattoo Hero is associated with 909 posts, has 3,966 followers and is following 854 users themselves – with material shared by them consistently focused on tattoo art, credit given to tattoo artists and tattoo business information provided on the sample of the images I reviewed. Tattoo Hero also has an open page on Facebook through which it again shares images of tattoo art with the 2,710 people who have “liked” the page in addition to random visitors such as myself. It likewise offers user posts and articles about local tattoo businesses, news about local events involving those businesses and their artists, and even information about international tattoo industry events. Tattoo Hero also appears to have been using its Twitter account (@tattoo_hero) in much the same way: it has shared 111 photos and videos, a public list it created on “Tattoo Conventions”, plus other information with its 1,453 followers through tweets and retweets on a variety of topics that would be of interest to tattoo professionals and enthusiasts; and has presumably done so by following 946 users itself. Beyond that, Tattoo Hero continues to live on through a LinkedIn profile (through which it has 110 followers), a Pinterest account (through which it has 14 boards, 263 pins, and 172 followers), and even a profile on AngelList – a crowdfunding service through which details can be gained about tattoo industry needs courtesy of the information shared about how Tattoo Hero functions [7].

Despite its digital legacy, the Tattoo Hero website itself (like many web products) remains irretrievable at the time of this post’s publication. Although it’s unclear exactly why the website can no longer be found on the Internet, the Tattoo Hero example demonstrates how businesses can offset the consequences of, say, technical glitches or basic information decay [8] through the active and strategic use of social media to market their products – especially if their goods and services include or involve web tools. At the end of the day, the question remains as to how a social media marketing campaign that outlives the product it was intended to promote impacts a business’ credibility among, and relevance to consumers. In my opinion, as much information as I gained about the tattoo industry thanks to Tattoo Hero’s social media presence, the website itself held considerable value for me as a convenient, single point of entry to the information I need and want as a consumer. I therefore remain hopeful that Tattoo Hero will be restored to life soon as a website, and resume its rightful place among the key web resources available for tattoo enthusiasts!

 

References:

  1. Etherington, Darrell (11 July 2013). Tattoo Hero Wants to Bring Tattoo-Seekers And Artists Together For Beautiful Results. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/11/tattoo-hero-wants-to-bring-tattoo-seekers-and-artists-together-for-beautiful-results/
  1. Draper, Cheryl (17 January 2013). Carleton Student Creates Award-Winning Online Forum for Tattoo Enthusiasts. Startup Weekend. Retrieved from http://ottawa.startupweekend.org/2013/01/17/carleton-student-creates-award-winning-online-forum-for-tattoo-enthusiasts/
  1. Traplin, Jen (28 May 2014). Looking to get inked? Ottawa startup Tattoo Hero aims to connect you with artists and shops. Metro News. Retrieved from http://www.metronews.ca/views/ottawa/backstage-pass/2014/05/28/looking-to-get-inked-ottawa-startup-tattoo-hero-aims-to-connect-you-with-artists-and-shops.html

4. Ibid.

  1. Tossell, Ivor (22 July 2013). Ottawa startup connects tattoo artists and ‘collectors’. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/startups/ottawa-startup-connects-tattoo-artists-and-collectors/article13324840/
  1. Etherington, Darrell (11 July 2013). Tattoo Hero Wants to Bring Tattoo-Seekers And Artists Together For Beautiful Results. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/11/tattoo-hero-wants-to-bring-tattoo-seekers-and-artists-together-for-beautiful-results/
  1. All statistics included in this paragraph current to 21 February 2016.
  1. Chatfield, Tom (18 November 2014). The decaying web and our disappearing history. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120927-the-decaying-web

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s