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Social Media Assignment B -Rebecca Ambesi 3815597

the tumblr phenomenon: simplifying the blogosphere

tumblr is one of the latest social media phenomenons and a game changer to the traditional blogging format. Firstly, it is a microblogging site that focuses on multimedia content, combining pictures, videos, gifs, music and text into a customizable personal blog design. It also incorporates a social networking aspect to blogging with the option to follow other users as well as send and receive private messages. But it is much much more than that, as we will see in this presentation.

The history of blogging

To understand the success of tumblr and the micro-blogging trend that is currently influencing the social media world, we must first appreciate where it developed from: the first blogging platforms.

The first blogging platforms launched in the late 1990’s and early 00’s such as LiveJournal, Blogger  and WordPress, heavily featured large amounts of text. Comments were the only way in which to interact with a post, and entries were organised into archives. Text dominated the screen with little imagery to catch the eye of the reader. The format was fairly rigid and uniform, allowing little in the way of customisation options. The format encouraged journal-like entries with significant amounts of text in a clear chronological order.

Micro-blogging and tumblelogging


Twitter, founded in 2006, brought the concept of micro-blogging to the forefront of social media. Using a simplified layout that encouraged short and fast exchanges of information with a character limit and shortened links, the traditional layout of blogs became unnecessarily long-winded. Hashtags that allowed users to immediately pinpoint and access information they were interested in also made the experience more efficient. A more social aspect of blogging was incorporated with the option to follow accounts and gain a follower base yourself, interacting with them in both public posts and private messages. The option to retweet, sharing a post with your followers who may not follow the original poster, was also a new, more efficient way to share information and also create opportunities for every day people to become increasingly influential in the digital world, purely through their use of the micro-blogging platform.

On the heels of the micro-blogging phenomenon, founder David Karp officially launched tumblr on April 27, 2007. Within 2 weeks, 75,000 users had signed up to the service (Ingram 2010). The iphone app soon followed in 2009.

      the first tumblr layout 2007

novel features of tumblr

tumblr still incorporates the journal-style text post option of traditional blogs, but includes the following and reblogging options of twitter and private messages. The unique feature of tumblr as opposed to twitter is its heavy focus on multimedia posts including images, videos and music uploading options. Cameron Chapman 2011 explains, of the approximately 14 million posts shared per day on the site, approximately half of those are images.  Sharing images, videos and other multimedia is the dominant way in which tumblr is used, and such activity has coined a new term known as ‘tumblogging‘, because it is much shorter and more multimedia based than traditional blogs or micro-blogging sites such as Twitter. tumblr is often considered a successful combination of twitter and the social networking aspects of Facebook. (Chapman, 2011). This new way to blog was praised for its simplicity (Robinson 2007), taking the intimidation for non-writers out of the blogosphere and encouraging a kind of visual personality scrapbook as well as tradition blogging opportunities for new users.

tumblr’s various multimedia upload options, as seen on the user dashboard.

Content is also reused on a scale not seen before on blogging sites, David Karp explains that 90% of content on tumblr is reblogged posts, posts that originate at one source, are added to anothers page and circulate through the following and reblogging functions. Henry Blodget 2012 explains that only 10% of tumblr features original content, relying instead upon the follower and sharing method of micro-blogging to fuel activity on the site. Hashtags are used to bring interested users to relevant blogs and keep content relevant and circulating through the site.

a reblogged tumblr post with notes

Popularity and growth of tumblr.

Since its launch in 2007, tumblr has become one of the most popular and fastest growing social media platforms of its time. Listed in Quantcasts top 20 websites in terms of traffic, tumblr has been steadily increasing in  users, posts and unique page views every month since its beginning. In September 2011, tumblr reported a massive 10 billion posts, with approximately 12.5 billion page views per month. ComScore traffic analysis site reported that from July 2010 to July 2011, visitors to the site jumped an impressive 218% from 4.2 million to 13.4 million a month (Lipsman 2011).  Visitor growth during this period was the most impressive of any social networking site, paling all others in comparison.

growth of tumblr compared to other social media sites.
image source:

Here are some statistics about tumblr usage today.

statistic sources: Quantcast, Tumblr

User loyalty and engagement: the tumblr advantage

In comparison to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the amount of tumblr users is still fairly modest. However, tumblr shows great aptitude at keeping users loyal with statistics proving visitors spend a significant amount of time on the site compared to its competitors in the social networking world. Website statistic managing site comScore notes that tumblr’s user engagement is second only to Facebook, an impressive achievement.

social networking visitor and engagement data as of December 2011.
image source:

Demographic and geographic position

tumblr so far has seen the majority of its adoption and success in the teenager to young adult demographic. Andrew Lipsman 2011 of comScore supports this information with the below graph, noting that these demographics are generally consistently early-adopters of any new social media.

Jiang Zhang for however, expands on this noting that even considering the early adoption trend of the 13-24 year age bracket, tumblr still exhibits exceptional popularity in that demographic compared to social networking giant, Facebook. This could be due to the emphasis on multimedia that is unique to tumblr, with the youngest demographic best positioned to understand and use that technology.

image source:

Geographically, the tumblr audience remains largely in the US. Matt Brian 2012 explains that 249 million visitors or 49% of tumblr’s total traffic comes from the US, with Brazil and Britain holding the next two largest audiences respectively. The Big Picture website provides a visual of tumblrs usage globally as of 2011, with statistic provided by

global usage of tumblr as sourced from

the future of tumblr

tumblr has experienced incredible growth, popularity and loyalty since its launch in 2007 and is still climbing steadily in both usage and adoption globally. From humble beginnings, today the Wall Street Journal values the micro-blogging juggernaut at $800 million from its initial $3 million valuing. It has not however, devised or implemented a viable business plan to adequately monetize the site. Nancy Messieh 2012 explains that founder David Karp does not believe in the most obvious direction of selling advertising space on the users dashboard, claiming to value to maintain the quality of the user experience above profiting from the site. He instead wishes to use such features as user spotlights and directories to promote brands and profit from the selling of that sponsored content. This is the current plan to monetize the site. It is keeping up well on the mobile aspect of social media with a mobile tumblr app available for both Apple and Android devices.


Ante, S, 2011,’Tumblr Valued at $800 Million’, Wall Street Journal, 27 September 2011, viewed 1 October 2012 <>

Blodgett, H, 2012,’Tumblr Blows Past 15 Billion Page Views Per Month, Thumbing Nose At Old Media As It Goes’, Business Insider, 23 January 2012, viewed 1 October 2012 <>

Brian, M, 2012, ‘Tumblr hits 20 Million Posts, Nears 50 Million Hosted Blogs’, The Next Web, 28 March 2012, viewed 1 October 2012 <>

Chapman, C,  2011,’Tumblogging: WordPress v Tumblr’, Webdesigner Depot, 2011, viewed 1 October 2012 <>

Lipsman, A, 2011, ‘Tumblr Defies Its Name As User Growth Accelerates’, ComScore, 30 August 2011, viewed 1 October 2012. <>

Messieh, N, 2012,’How Tumblr Plans To Monetize: Self-Promotion and Optimized Features For Brands, The Next Web, 12 April 2012, viewed 1 October 2012 <>

Robinson, B, 2007, ‘Davidville, inc, Tumbles Into The Spotlight With Tumblr’, Techcrunch, 2 April 2007, viewed 1 October 2012 <>

The Big Picture 2011, ‘Tumblr Growth Statistics and Trends: Users and Usage’, The Big Picture, 2011 <>

Zhang, J, 2012, ‘Facebook: Intense Domestic Competition, International Growth Lacks Visibility’, Seeking Alpha, 28 June 2012, viewed 1 October 2012 <>

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