As traditional, sit-at-a-computer blogging slowly passes away in the shadow of social networking services that cater to uniformity such as Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr stands out as a lesser-known platform that is attracting more than just the creative user, but those who are craving for simplicity – and speed – in the blogging experience.
At Feedback, we’re looking forward to watching Tumblr mature as a web and mobile content creation service, both as a personal platform and for businesses, particularly companies in the media world with a steady stream of words and pictures to post online. We believe that Tumblr’s power will be fully realized within the next year with new features and support that will give even the casual-est Internet users who may not have a lot to say a rather personable community to express themselves. (We would be remiss not to mention that New York-based Tumblr recently opened its second office here in Richmond.)
Founded in 2007 just as Twitter began collecting its initial momentum, Tumblr’s ease of use was pretty unparalleled considering the other blogging services that were out at the time. It made the blogging process simple, but on the back end, it also incorporated a feed where you can follow other “Tumblrs.” It looks much like a Facebook wall or Twitter stream, but it’s even more simplified – and that has made all the difference.
Composing posts with the Tumblr interface much easier than blogging services like WordPress or Blogger with the ability to categorize the types of posts that users make. For instance, if your post is expressed through words, you compose a Text post. If you found a great picture that you want to share, a Photo post would be appropriate. Not near a computer and want to leave some thoughts on your blog? Found a thought that someone else articulated so well that it stands without context? The Quote or Chat option can handle that with ease.
Tumblr is also made for posting from mobile devices, so if you’re an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android user, it’s never been easier to pop content up on the fly.
In addition to becoming a nexus for content of any nature — magazines like GQ, The Atlantic and the National Post have accounts on the service — Tumblr promotes popular and trending blogs within its own network based on recommendations of its users into the Tumblr Directory. Directories – which are in the process of being overhauled to be more easily searchable, according to Tumblr founded David Karp – is a listing of the most influential blogs categorized into keywords such as “historical,” “fashion,” “cute,” “gaming” and more. Every Tuesday, hundreds of users place their seal of approval on popular accounts and moderators add the best to the hall of fame-like status of the Directory.
The social aspect of the service has been simplified as well. All posts have a heart icon akin to Facebook’s Like button, and, as we opined earlier, such feedback is key to any online community. You follow users that have interesting thoughts by clicking the plus sign that appears in the top right corner of all Tumblr blogs. Reblogging, a term that’s become pretty common across the services, is less a sharing mechanic and more of a conversation tool. Posts become threaded conversations and not just a means to copy and paste someone else’s writings to your blog.
Today, the network has broken through the top 100 most trafficked websites on the Internet and continues to grow as it stands its ground against long-standing blogging and interactive media alternatives. Tumblr is also experimenting with a super cool ad model to maximize how attractive the service it is to users who might call it their new blogging home, too.
The only ad campaign that I could spot is one highlighting the BBC’s Top Gear program in the #cars tag channel. It advertises the show, sure, but it does so in a way that you almost don’t notice. It’s nothing but a page full of car posts and pictures, curated by volunteers who pick the best posts to be delivered to those who wish to track the #cars tag. There are then two reasonable, standard-size banners opposite the content timeline that are not intrusive and ultimately relevant to just about every motorhead that might venture onto that page. But seriously, if you’re a fan of cars and you haven’t heard of Top Gear, I have doubts about your fandom.
Anyway, enough talking about it. I encourage you to check out Tumblr and get to know it before everyone else does.