At one end of the spectrum we have the traditional long-form blog, and at the other end we have the microblogging service Twitter. But 2011 will see the advent of an innovative and creative space between the two.
Tumblr is one of a few platforms (along with Posterous) that allows people and companies to play with this creative space. The target user is usually someone that doesn’t feel they can commit to a full blog, but wants the opportunity to do more than the format of Twitter allows.
Part of the power of Tumblr is its ease of use – something that the company takes very seriously. Sign up is easy, and users can post text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio – either via email, through the simple dashboard or by using a wide range of browser and mobile app’s. The format allows short, regular updates but can also be used to publish lengthier articles.
Tumblr has a scrapbook feel – you cut and stick things you find around the web without much hassle. It is this scrapbook feel that makes the site great for content curation and has led to its adoption by news media companies. The Atlantic, NewsWeek, The New Yorker and The Economist are among the many organisations using Tumblr to publish links to content, highlight important quotations, display infographics and curate some of the most important and beautiful content from around the web. The ‘feel’ of Tumblr is much less serious than the traditional websites of these companies, and it is this informality that is allowing these media companies to build a friendly social face.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than by the Al-Jazeera English Tumblr. The news organisation has impressed the world by using the site to publish images, videos and more from the ground during the Egyptian protests. They are using the platform to publish important tweets with contextual information, provide links to important YouTube videos and AudioBoo recordings, and provide short accounts of the most important developments. It is an inspirational and powerful example of how this platform can be used to improve journalistic efforts.
The fashion industry is also getting involved with Tumblr: according to Tumblr CEO David Karp, 180 of the top 1000 Tumblrs are fashion blogs, and these blogs are reblogged more frequently than normal Tumblr posts. As evidence of its commitment to work closer with the fashion community on Tumblr, the company will be sponsoring 20 bloggers to attend New York fashion week.
Fashion brands are increasingly using Tumblr as a way to directly engage with their current and potential customers. Luxurious fashion brands, like Oscar de la Renta, are using Tumblr to become “present and persistent in [the] minds” of the customers who cannot yet afford their products, but could someday soon. Mid-range brands are using Tumblr to create a natural and uncontrived “holistic story” about their brand.
Fashion company Kate Spade has just started its Tumblr account. Digital Marketing Manager Cecilia Liu says:
“People are using and sharing beautiful visuals on Tumblr, posting things they think are inspirational,” she observes. “In that vein, it seems like a really great platform for us to get our voice out there, not just as tweets and text, but through images and color, which is the DNA of the brand”
So, with two important industries capitalising on the benefits of this new digital space, I expect other industries will begin to take notice. I also expect many people who have been put off blogging through the fear of a steep learning curve will embrace the growth of Tumblr, bringing a new crowd into the social media world.