http://www.tumblr.com/). This free blog hosting platform has been operating in the shadows of its mainstream social media giants for four years now. While it hasn’t reached the popularity of its peers, it still proves to hold its own as an innovative blogging alternative, especially attractive to those in arts and media.
In 2007, David Karp, a New York City entrepreneur, founded Tumblr. With the help of lead web developer Marco Arment, the site quickly expanded from friends and family members to a community of millions. The latest member tally, as posted on Tumblr on March 12, 2011, reflects 3.8 billion posts and 14.9 million blogs. Not too shabby, especially considering the current Web 2.0 oligopoly. Even more impressive is Tumblr’s loyalty rate, preserving 85% of its users, in comparison to Twitter’s 60% retention rate. So what is it about this little platform that could that makes it so attractive to both social media junkies and traditional bloggers alike? The answer lies in one’s Tumblr account.
Upon joining Tumblr, one will be connected to a multimedia surfeit. The home page, or dashboard, is initially reminiscent of a Twitter page, with posting options and a live feed. The difference, however, is the 140 character posting restrictions have been lifted. One can post text, photos, quotes, links, chat, audio, and video, as well as a live feed of those one follows. Due to a plethora of preferences, one’s feed is more colourful and entertaining. Links, photos, videos and journal entries are also given the full space needed, making it similar to a Facebook homepage, but with less clutter from sidebars and advertisements.
In addition to Tumblr’seasy usage, one can feed their log to their Facebook or Twitter site. There is also the ability to import and export RRS feeds. Another impressive trait of Tumblr is the personal preferences and branding abilities. Like a Wordpress page, one can make the site absolutely their own, while with Twitter and Facebook, the interfaces are, to a degree, greatly restricted. On Tumblr, you can completely abandon the host’s interface and create something truly distinctive.
The diversity of bloggers is also interesting. Photographers, artists, writers, and musicians make up a strong majority of Tumblr’s cult following. The variety of multimedia coupled with an attractive interface, makes it an obvious communication tool and marketing outlet for those in the visual arts. Of course, it also works as a publisher and home to both unknown freelancers and The New Yorker. Writers will find this is an excellent outlet to practice and test drive samples of their work. Musicians have also made use of the platform. Everyone from indie hopefuls to indie powerhouses, Ra Ra Riot and Arcade Fire included, post photos, videos and other information on their Tumblr site. Like most social media outlets, this platform is multi-purpose for the multi-needs of its users, everything from marketing to emotional outlets.
So, with all the obvious options out there, who needs one more social media outlet to maintain? Tumblr is a haven for that in-between blogger, that lost soul between the share-all-I-just-used-the-loo blogger, as well as the hardcore pseudo-professional bloggers. While the first category tend to migrate toward the new comforts of Facebook and Twitter, the latter have found a comfortable home with Blogger, Livejournal and Wordpress to post their carefully crafted compositions. In a recent interview on Techcrunch.com, Karp described his vision of doing something innovating with the blogosphere adding “much more freeform,” for ideas in the making, rather than the polished blogs one sees on Wordpress. Tumblr provides an outlet for that individual who has a very creative idea mulling around, which may not be quite finished, but deserves to be shared.
Trendy and attractive, Tumblr’s charisma makes it an exciting destination for creative visionaries, looking to connect, express and push technological boundaries. Whether one is looking to blog without the commitment or to express themselves beyond 140 characters, Tumblr is an extremely cool option.