I just finished a case study on the microblogging platform Tumblr for my New Media Strategies class. If you’re interested in social media and blogging then you may find this interesting! Take a look, it’s not terribly long…
Somewhere between full-throttled blog software, such as WordPress, and minimalist microblogging tools, such as Twitter, lies Tumblr (Businessweek).
For people uninitiated to the world of Tumblr, a simple explanation is that Tumblr is a microblogging site used to promote the creation, curation and sharing of mixed-media content across a social network. This process is made easy for Tumblr users by means of a simple “dashboard” interface, which allows for users to add content to their “tumbleblogs”, or share content from other user’s blogs, with one click. Tumblr, unlike its dominant social media counterparts, Facebook and Twitter, allows for seamless, streamlined multi-media content creation, curation and sharing while retaining the ability for users to connect with their fellow users on an interpersonal level, even though Tumblr is not first-and-foremost a social platform.
Tumblr was launched on April 27, 2007 by David Karp, dubbed by The New York Post as “the Internet’s boy wonder”, and within two weeks of its launch had garnered 75,000 users. This unprecedented burst of followers in the onset of a social media platform would set the stage for Tumblr’s dramatic permeation of the schema of the internet over its first few years of existence. A staggeringly illuminating figure of this exponential growth is the surge in audience that Tumblr experienced between July 2010 and July 2011, with its monthly visitor count growing from 4.2 million visitors to 13.4 million visitors in just one calendar year (a radical 218% increase!). The “About” page on Tumblr’s official website currently boasts a staggering 16,000,000,000+ page views per month in addition to playing host to 68.4 million blogs and 29.4 billion blog posts since its inception.
The primary obstacle Tumblr faced at the time of its launch was the question of whether it could build and retain a strong community of users and be able to compete with the vast ocean of increasingly accessible social media tools available in the online world. This proved all too easy and more than achievable for the fledgling platform. The very nature of the site has allowed for self-perpetuation and internally-generated expansion like no other social media tool has shown previously. This is primarily because of Tumblr’s innovative feedback system: the “dashboard” interface, which provides a continual stream of content from all of the blogs that a user follows, offers users multiple options in terms of feedback. Unlike the standard “commenting” as seen on Facebook and many other social media platforms, or the simple process of “@replying” that is common practice on Twitter, Tumblr users are given an array of choices when deciding how to interact with the content they encounter. There is a “like” button, much like Facebook, that allows users to simply make known their enjoyment of certain pieces of content. Additionally, each piece of content put forth by a user offers the ability for other users viewing the content to be linked to the blog of origin and “follow” other blogs, and finally, there is a “reblog” feature that allows users to effortlessly embed other user’s posts into their own blogs, as a means of pushing outwardly content that interests them and may potentially interest similarly-minded bloggers. This is how Tumblr has made their way in the cyber-world, by founding their platform on the very nature of true viral content dispersion and encouraging their users to encourage others to share and add content constantly. This has created an inherent sense of reciprocality in the inner workings of Tumblr that drives the cultivation of a true network of individuals; it is simply a matter of enough people choosing participate in the community that allows for the snowball effect to occur and exponential acceleration to begin.
Tumblr. has streamlined and reinvented both social networking as well content sharing. Taking cues from many of its social media predecessors and adapting them to the immediate and ever-changing nature of today’s Internet, Tumblr has utterly simplified for its users the process of generating and sharing content with other like-minded internet dwellers.
What [David] Karp has done with Tumblr is build a better mousetrap, improving upon traditional blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger in much the same way Facebook improved on MySpace and Friendster (Maxim).
It is perhaps Tumblr’s overwhelming sense of community that has come to spearhead its resounding staying power in the social media landscape. As opposed to a user feeling like a cog in a seemingly boundless machine (as might the users of Facebook and Tweet), Tumblr users are enabled to create their own sense of identity and community internally and find, with great ease, other users with whom they can share content, ideas, and relatable human experience/sentiment that is simply not possible when dealing with the mainstream powerhouse social media platforms.
David Karp and his team at Tumblr have found their greatest obstacle over the course of their existence to be the breaking into of the mainstream and garnering an even greater following than they currently boasts. This has not been an all-too difficult task, seeing as Tumblr became the first blogging platform to host President Obama’s blog, partnered with Adidas in their creation of an official Adidas Soccer blog, and became the primary forum for the members of “We are the 99%”, the unifying slogan behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. These events have all seen Tumblr reaching new heights in public visibility and in the hierarchy of social media. Nonetheless, founder David Karp sees nothing but limitless possibilities for the future of his beautiful brainchild. “We really believe in this thing”, Karp says thoughtfully. “We’re approaching it as if it could be the next Google” (Fast Company.)
- Tumblr Official Website “About” Page. 2007. Tumblr, Inc. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://www.tumblr.com/about>
- Tumblr Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumblr>
- Boutin, Paul. “Tumblr Makes Blogging Blissfully Easy.” The New York Times. 2009. The New York Times. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/tumblr-makes-blogging-blissfully-easy/>
- Maxim Staff. “David Karp is the Barely Legal Blogfather.” Maxim Online. Maxim Magazine. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://www.maxim.com/funny/david-karp-the-barely-legal-blogfather>
- Siegler, MG. “Tumblr is on Fire. Now Over 6 Million, 1.5 Billion Pageviews A Month.” TechCrunch. 2010. AOL Tech. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/19/tumblr-stats/>
- Lipsman, Andrew. “Tumblr Defies its Name as User Growth Accelerates.” comScore. 2011. comScore. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://blog.comscore.com/2011/08/tumblr_user_growth_accelerates.html>
- Dannen, Chris. “What the Hell is Tumblr? And Other Worthwhile Questions.” FastCompany. 2009. Mansueto Ventures LLC. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://www.fastcompany.com/1281262/what-hell-tumblr-and-other-worthwhile-questions>
- “Best Young Entrepreneurs 2009.” Businessweek. 2009. Bloomberg L.P. 8 Aug. 2012 <http://images.businessweek.com/ss/09/04/0421_best_young_entrepreneurs/11.htm>