Tumblr, the Next Emerging Platform?

November 17, 2009Sparxoo

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By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

If Twitter, Flickr and Facebook were to get together, it would look something like Tumblr. The microblogging site has a slick, clean design that allows for customization and sharing. In our analysis on social media, we found Tumblr to be a rising star with a growing artistic community. According to Quantcast, Tumblr is gaining steam in the U.S. by consistently surpassing its traffic records. If it continues its rise, Tumblr could emerge from the underground into the mainstream in a very big way. We’re going to discuss how Tumblr is going to lead the next wave of social networks.

Key Elements

Provides Tasteful Customization
Unlike MySpace, Tumblr regulates its user profile design. Users can select from dozens of approved designs. In this way, Tumblr is taking an approach similar to Apple’s App Store. Instead of opening the flood gates to anybody and everybody, both platforms set a high bar for developers and designers to meet — therefore creating standards, expectations and consistency. Though MySpace ushered in the customization trend in 2003, sites like Tumblr are creating standards to develop consistency and stylistic harmony while allowing for personal expression. Customization is crucial for cultivating younger audiences and Tumblr does it tastefully and effectively.

Selects Buzzworthy Material
To engage users, it’s important to help them discover content they want to talk about and share. Tumblr’s popular section, or “The Wire” features a scrolling bar of pictures, videos and links to entice users to discover new, interesting content. Often, “The Wire” showcases the talents of Tumblr’s sizable graphic designers audience, while also featuring buzzworthy videos and links to great content.

Moreover, Tumblr takes a page from the Twitter handbook. Just as Twitter has trending topics, so too does Tumblr. The trending topics gives us further insight into Tumblr’s art-oriented demographic (e.g. illustration, girl, apple, iphone, graphic design, architecture, etc). The trending topics help users find buzzworthy content. This approach will increase in importance as more content floods the web and users search for consistency and organization.

Makes it Visual
The visual element speaks to Tumblr’s right-brained demographic. Most of the posts are of witty illustrations and artful photographs. Speaking the visual language creates a compelling and interesting site.

Leverages Cross Platform
No longer are websites the only user destination. Social networks need to consider other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr does this and more. Each of the “Goodies” allow Tumblr users to share content while using other platforms. Not only does Tumblr have a Facebook App, dashboard widget and iPhone app, the microblogging site takes it a step further by provide a call-in number to record and post audio. Moreover, Tumblr makes sharing while browsing simple and accessible through their bookmarklet tool, text and e-mail posting (send content to karil276@tumblr.com ) and IM posting (IM TumblrBot).

Though Tumblr’s growth is on a stead incline, the microblogging site could stand to increase their audience engagement levels. Of Tumblr’s audience, a mere 3% of them are addicts (Facebook has 12% and MySpace has 18% addicts), according to Quantcast.com. To increase its % addicts, Tumblr needs to dial-up its shuffle feature. The shuffle feature finds information that you might be interested in based on your browsing history. By delivering relevant, interesting material to its users, Tumblr could grow its % addicts. This shuffle feature is a part of an overall trend towards web intelligence. As more information floods the market, there will be a growing need to organize and manage it. If Tumblr could emphasize this organizational and web intelligence element, it could accelerate its growth exponentially.