Tumblr is in a social media realm of its own–and by this, I mean the platform prides itself on being different. They are the artsy and hipster kids in class, or the ‘not like everyone else’ kid that listens to indie and alternative music until it becomes mainstream; they are different and they proudly wear it as a badge of honor. At least, that was the stereotype for Tumblr users in the early to mid-2010s. Tumblr has since fallen from its peak in popularity among social media users.
Yet in 2023, Tumblr is experiencing a resurgence in popularity and is shouting to the world that they are indeed not Twitter or any other social media platform–they are different and better. This resurgence may have some people questioning if leaping to join the platform is worth their time. Let’s take a look at everything Tumblr: its history, why many users have enjoyed the platform through the years, what this resurgence could mean for the online social landscape, and the platform’s plans for the future.
Tumblr emerged on the social media scene in 2007 but gained popularity in the early 2010s as a ‘microblog’ for social media users (Tumblr, 2023). In previous years, the platform defined itself as a social network that allowed users to “effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be,” (Webwise, n.d.).
Since its release to the public, Tumblr has undergone many changes in ownership. In 2013, the website was acquired by Yahoo, merged with Verizon in 2017, and later sold to Automattic in 2019, its current owner (Robertson, 2023; Chayka, 2022). Despite these changes, the website itself has remained relatively untouched in function and appearance since its conception.
Today, Tumblr defines itself not as a social network, but as a website with a ‘mycelial network,’ (Tumblr, 2023). Aligned with its reputation in the years past, Tumblr continues to embrace its unique social functions on the internet and its persona as a quirky online space for people to connect by stating: “It's wholesome chaos. It's the gay people in your phone. It's your angel. It's your devil. Tumblr is whatever you want it to be,” (Tumblr, 2023).
Tumblr Psychology: What Makes Tumblr So Appealing to Many Users?
Microblogging Capabilities on Tumblr
Before social media, one of the first popular forms of media on the internet was blogs. Blogs give users the ability to share their thoughts and opinions with people they wouldn’t normally be able to interact with. As the internet grew and social media became the dominant form of socializing online, access to blogging without a paid subscription to a website or purchase of a domain has grown slim–thus, dwindling its accessibility and its popularity.
Tumblr on the other hand, provided an outlet for microblogging that was free and available within a large network of other users. This format of blogging or micro-blogging is accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a free account and also provides users with an element lacking on traditional blogging websites: a large community of users with similar interests that can interact and connect.
Tumblr’s popularity filled a gap within the online sphere, proving internet users enjoyed blogging in its traditional sense, even if it’s in a micro capacity. Similarly, Tumblr’s resurgence can also indicate there is still a demand for blogging among internet users. The emergence of platforms like Lemon8 where some users take advantage of the no-character limit and similarly participate in microblogging also aligns with the idea that the demand for blogging still exists among internet users.
Tumblr Has Engaging Content of All Types With Few Limitations
Tumblr can be an engaging platform for all users. The sun is the limit when it comes to how users can share on Tumblr, from long or short text, photos, videos, links, gifs, or all of the above; Tumblr users can tailor their feed to the type of media they like to consume and the posts they share (Chayka, 2022).
Additionally, Tumblr spaces are highly customizable. Similar to its predecessor, MySpace, the platform allows users to make their Tumblr pages that are uniquely tailored to the individual in a way that can feel like an online extension of themselves. The website also provides templates for free and paid use for users that want to add customization but don’t want to start from scratch (Griffin, n.d.).
This ability to share content in any form its users desire provides a layer of freedom that is uncommon in the majority of online spaces. Providing this freedom to users means Tumblr can be fun, it can be serious, or even both–it is a platform shaped around the individual’s needs and interests in an online space. Yet again, this aspect of Tumblr sets it apart from other platforms and caters to the desires of online users that cannot be found elsewhere.
Communities on Tumblr: LGBTQIA+ Friendly, Mental Health, and More
Tumblr has a wide variety of niche communities to participate in on the platform, which allows people to find places online that foster a sense of community that may be difficult to access in some regions of the world. Tumblr may be a great place to talk about fashion, books, politics, popular media, and more, but for some people, it can provide access to deeper, intimate connections that only a niche community could provide.
Over the years, Tumblr has been a safe place for LGBTQIA+ and allowed users from all over to discuss mental health topics. With access to a safe place to discuss sensitive topics with individuals going through similar circumstances and the capability to remain anonymous, users on Tumblr can feel more connected and less alone with whatever circumstances they may be going through (Grinnell College, n.d.; Griffith & Stein, 2020).
Tumblr is Anti-marketing and Anti-influencers
For social media users who would like to escape the digital billboards and commercials that frequent most social media platforms, Tumblr being a fairly anti-marketing and anti-influencer place may be great news. Though, this is not so great news for digital marketers and influencers. Tumblr’s global advertising policy allows marketing on the platform as long as there is no promotion of illegal activity, bait advertising, violence, and a few other guidelines to adhere to (Tumblr, 2022).
However, Tumblr’s users are not as receptive to marketing on the platform, and the platform itself even expresses it’s not for influencers while explaining: “Oh, and influencers? Don't even go here. This is your space. Every video you find, every quote you reblog, every tag you curate, every waterfall GIF you secretly gaze at in wonder—that's all you. You're the explorer. We're just a map you all keep on making. Welcome home. Welcome to weird. Make it yours.” (Tumblr, 2023).
This makes Tumblr a great platform for personal uses and for finding genuine communities to take part in, but difficult for digital marketers and influencers to tap into. On the bright side, Tumblr is not a new platform, which means digital marketers are a little more familiar with how to utilize the platform if they choose to do so.
Some points to keep in mind when crafting your social media strategy with Tumblr are to first, ensure your target audience is even on Tumblr; and second, to keep the community on Tumblr in mind. Tumblr hosts a younger audience that enjoys sarcasm and can be highly protective of their communities. This means authenticity is the most important part of your approach to Tumblr (Costill, 2015).
The Future of Tumblr
Though Tumblr has remained unchanged for a little over a decade, Tumblr announced in July this year that updates to the user experience are on the horizon. The platform acknowledges its pitfalls in design and has begun strategizing how it can make Tumblr easier to use for newcomers, specifically users from Twitter and Reddit (Robertson, 2023). Unlike Tumblr, Reddit and Twitter are relatively easy for new users to grasp, and the platform aims to make the transition from other platforms more seamless and provide an overall better user experience (Robertson, 2023).
Tumblr’s Resurgence May Impact Digital Marketing and Other Social Media Platforms
The resurgence of Tumblr highlights an important aspect all digital marketers need to accommodate: people are craving more genuine connections online and they want the content and media they consume to reflect that. Digital marketers are being called to turn toward forming authentic communities with their target audiences to remain relevant in today’s social media landscape on all platforms, not just Tumblr. As for social media platforms, internet users are craving online spaces with longer posts, or microblogging, which also reflects their needs for genuine connections.
If social media platforms and digital marketers choose not to get on board with fostering community engagement and authentic connections, they are more likely to be left behind in the future. If your business wants to create a genuine and authentic campaign or digital marketing strategy, BlueTickSocial is here to help. Contact us today for a consultation to help your brand grow its digital presence!
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