5 Tumblr microblogs that work
Last week I posted about how Vogue could spruce up its Tumblr blog, make it more than just a placeholder. The New York Times, oddly, has yet to do anything with their Tumblr site.
Since the summer, Tumblr has become something of the preferred blogging platform for publishers. Tumblr blogs are a way for publishers to be a little more irreverent, funny and visual than on their official website or even their blog. Tumblr is also a huge opportunity for publishers to put their stories out there with the possibility of going viral. In September, according to Quantcast, Tumblr surpassed 2 billion page views.
Here are five publishers, one season after the inital rush, that clearly get Tumblr and are using the microblogging social platform effectively:
Life. That Life puts far more effort into its website -- in which it is partnered with Getty in an attempt at monetization -- than it does with Tumblr is my only critique. Though Life's photo archive -- precisely the sort of thing that plays well on Tumblr -- is second to none, the posting has been anemic (one pic a day, at most). And it is frequency in posting that attracts an engaged community. Otherwise, a Tumblr blog is simply an experiment, a placeholder. Still, even with the infrequent posts, Life has one of the best Tumblrs, particularly if you are a lover of the American story in photographs. Imagine if Life took it more seriously.
The Village Voice. They get it. The Voice's collection of blogs -- particularly the highly regarded Running Scared and the witty Daily Musto -- have a collective identity distinct from that of their Tumblr. After, possibly, Newsweek, the Voice's Tumblr is probably the best executed media migration into social microblogging. It parallels, perfectly, the editorial mission of the print publication, founded by Norman Mailer in 1955. The posts are frequent and the images are compelling. The quotations are crisp and smart and highly reblogable. The Voice's Tumblr comes across as hip and literate, not an easy thing to pull off digitally.
The Atlantic. Surprisingly -- or perhaps not so surprisingly -- the brainy Atlantic, founded in 1957, really gets Tumblr. Theirs is a healthy mix of links to their stories, which often feature thoughtful political pieces, as well as food pictures and brief but interesting geeky science-futurist posts.
The Economist. The Economist has always been a bit ahead of its time, incorporating nontraditional elements -- funny captions to serious stories, for instance -- that anticipated the irreverence of blogs. Ironically, you don't get more "establishment" than The Economist.
The New Yorker. Like Life, The New Yorker posts way too infrequently -- about once a day. That said, they do quizzes, which works quite well with the Tumblr format. They understand their readers, who probably do not shy from contests of intelligence, and give them -- particularly with their "To Do" lists -- a Tumblr experience well worthy of Mr. Shawn.
There's one other publication worth noting: Newsweek. Newsweek's smart Tumblr blog last week took a humorous approach to their recent rough press -- precisely the right thing to do, by the way. Newsweek's charming take on their very public search for an editor went somewhat viral in publishing circles, giving them a welcome boost of good publicity. Unfortunately, conservative old media ways don't die and the video has since been "cycled off" from the microblog (precisely the wrong thing to do, by the way). But the jury is still out how Newsweek -- or, for that matter the other Tumblrs -- will do in drawing attention online to their content.