What does Tumblr mean to you?

I’ve been on Tumblr for about 6 months now and I’m surprised to say that the novelty has yet to wear off.

I mainly use the site to keep updated on and entertained by my television and movie fandoms ( [n] The community that surrounds a tv show/movie/book etc. ), and generally let out my inner nerd. From my own personal use, I would have supposed that the site would remain more of an alternative social site, always in the shadows of the more thriving Facebook and Twitter. And yet, despite my suppositions, a Nielsen Co. report finds that Tumblr has gained 183% in popularity from 2010 to 2011.

Further findings from the study include:

  • The site averages 21,280 messages and links posted daily. To better understand this figure, understand that it surpasses the number of blogs hosted by WordPress in one month.
  • More than 57% of Tumblr users are under 34 with only 17.5% over 50 years of age.
  • Tumblr uses are more often female (53%)…but not by much.

So why has this site gained so much popularity? And does its notably younger user base point toward Tumblr’s continued trend and growth?

Technically speaking, Tumblr is a form of microblogging. Microblogging  “differs from a traditional blog[ging] in that its content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregate file size. Microblogs ‘allow users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links.'” Other examples of microblogging include Twitter and even Facebook.

To me, it is easy to see how Tumblr is more similar to Twitter than to a blog, such as WordPress. For one, people don’t often use Tumblr for longer messages or posts. On Twitter, individuals are actually forcibly limited in their content (140 characters max).

As for myself, on Tumblr I often just reblog posts that I find informative, humourous, or interesting; I rarely add unique content to the site. Many times, as with Twitter updates, the content of a post may send  the user to a completely separate site. The main focus is not the post itself, but the links or pictures that may lead to another domain.

Tumblr emphasizes how easy it is to use the site. And certainly, the directions are as simple as the  functions of the site. While some may use Tumblr as a primary blog, I still find the site to be less professional due perhaps in part to its simplicity. By this I mean that I don’t feel that one can accurately learn about me via my Tumblr page, whereas I consider my WordPress blog to be an accurate professional representation of myself (much as some people would consider Facebook to be a personal representation of themselves). There are just fewer opportunities to personalize and declare oneself on Tumblr. But then again, as I mentioned earlier, my primary purpose in having a Tumblr account is to free my inner geek.

I also want to clarify that by “less professional” I do not mean that companies and brands are wasting their time on the site. In fact, I feel that Tumblr is a really great way to reach a niche market– whether it be youth in general, or more specific fandoms of certain products and programs. Tumblr is a community in which people are constantly sharing information, even if there isn’t nearly as much direct conversing. It is also a community filled with very opinionated and interested individuals who are purposely seeking information on things that may interest them.

In my opinion, Tumblr is a fun site, but not one that I would ever put on a resume. It’s a place for me to relax and learn more about things that I might enjoy outside of a professional environment. I would love to hear more about other people’s opinions on the site.

Sound off below or respond to the poll. (Note: the last time I tried a poll it failed miserably. Please prove me wrong and restore my faith in both bloggers and polls).

Facebook & I have changed our relationship status to ‘It’s Complicated’

I know I’m not the only one with complaints about the latest Facebook changes. Everywhere I go, I hear co-workers, friends, and even complete strangers grumbling over the supposedly improved site. In a recent Mashable poll, nearly 74% of users said they hated the changes. And now we long for happier times…

Sometimes I feel like Facebook and I are in some sort of bad relationship. Facebook is crowding me, making me feel claustrophobic, not allowing me to have a life outside of it. Facebook is trying to provide me with everything I need, but rather than finding this convenient, I find it needy and constricting.

Everywhere I go, I find sites asking me to sign in via Facebook. But sometimes, I just want to keep things separate. I just want to be able to play my Words with Friends without checking in with Facebook. I feel like screaming at the site: I don’t need your permission to have a good time! Nor do I want to share every single detail about myself with you. I’ve told you my favorite movies and books, my likes and dislikes– isn’t that enough? Must I fan every product I’ve ever used, every actor I’ve ever watched, and every store I’ve ever shopped at? Stop being so pushy about it! The pressure in this relationship is overwhelming. I can’t handle it.

Of course, the site’s latest changes include updated friends list, news headlines, and feed subscription. Not to mention the pesky blue corner added to updates that are specifically selected to fit your interest (‘You don’t know me, Facebook!’…the two of us may have to settle this on Maury or something).

And worse yet, it’s reported that there are more changes to come. Facebook, don’t go trying to change yourself to fix an already broken relationship. Sure, I don’t visit you nearly as often, but it’s because we’ve grown apart. I’ve found other sites, like Twitter and Tumblr and while I swear their just occasional pastimes, you jealously seems to be getting the best of you. What am I supposed to say? That they mean nothing to me? Why must I feel so much shame for cheating on my social networking site?!

Plus, changing everything about yourself, Facebook, just makes me even more hesitant to keep you in my life. I never asked you to get a makeover or change your features, you did that all on your own, so don’t go blaming me when you start losing users.

And you know what, while we’re on the subject, stop judging me with your side advertisements. Personally, I think my teeth are white enough, thank you. And how dare you assume that I’m always “looking for something to do in *insert town here*.”

Let me live my life without needing to touch base with you every minute. Sometimes I just don’t want to keep you updated. You don’t need to know everything about what I do or who I see or where I am. Facebook: I think it’s time I started seeing other social networking sites.

Once, I felt like I knew you. I felt like we really connected (and that you really helped me stay connected). Now, you feel distant. You puzzle me– with all your new features and confusing ‘aesthetic appeal.’ Weren’t we happy before? What happened to us?

Bottom line, I think Facebook and I might need to change our relationship status to It’s Complicated.

The Oscars Online

In a previous post featuring a rather unsuccessful poll, I asked readers about their Oscar viewing habits in terms of social media. What networks would you stay connected to throughout the show?

Embodying the very spirit of the social media and award show connection was James Franco, who tweeted away from backstage. Despite a less than stellar performance, he at least did well in documenting behind the scenes footage that was enjoyed by thousands of Twitter users. Other celebrities, such as Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Hudson, and Franco’s fellow co-host Anne Hathaway took to Twitter as well, but more important were the viewers who hit up social network sites and what they were talking about.

Mashable has put together a nice little report of the who, what, and how much from Oscar night. While I’ve featured a couple key/interesting stats in this post, I highly suggestion heading over to the article itself to find out more.

 

Twitter

  • Certain moments throughout the broadcast featured dramatic increases in tweets. For instance, when Oprah Winfrey presented the award for Best Documentary (to Inside Job) a record number of 11,780 tweets were sent out! Here are some more spikes:

  • In terms of Trending Topics, Tweetbeat’s measurements reported that Inception as the most tweeted about film, followed by The King’s Speech second. Other trending films included Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and The Fighter.
  • The twitterverse was similarly interested in the nominees, with James Franco leading the topic trends. Since Franco’s nomination in January, a reported 58, 197 tweets have mentioned the actor. During the award show itself, Franco received 21,117 mentions. His co-host Anne Hathaway was the second-most tweeted about celebrity, followed by Natalie Portman.

 

Facebook

  • During the 24 hour period following the awards show, nearly one million people in the U.S. alone mentioned the word “Oscar” in a status update on Facebook.
  • Of all the Oscar topics, The Kings Speech received the most attention with 152,324 mentions throughout the United States.

To find out more about the world of the web on Oscar night, check out the full article on Mashable.com.

So, how did you stay connected? Did you help make up some of the numbers of these statistics? I know I did.

 

 

“Underheard” Update

A couple of days ago I posted about a program called Underheard in New York. They gave a group of homeless men prepaid cells phones and unlimited text messages to be used for Twitter. The project, which has been ongoing throughout the month of February, has definitely raised awareness of the homelessness situation, and given a voice to the previously “underheard.”

And now, thanks to the program and the social networking site, one of the men has actually been able to connect with his daughter after 11 years of separation. Daniel Morales started searching for his 27-year-old daughter Sarah Rivera about three weeks into the project. He posted his cell number, her name, and a photo of Rivera more than a decade old via Twitter, only to  receive a phone call from Rivera the very next day. The two were reunited on television today.

Just a little bit of happy news and an update!

 

 

 

 

 

Will Tumblr get Tossed?

My first thought was that Tumblr must be some distant cousin of Flickr. Social media sites ignoring the use of the letter ‘e’ (still looking for a scientific explanation behind that).  This was more than a year ago, when the site was still getting off its feet and riding on the road of uncertainty. Even after its success, it took me a while to hop on board. Finally, I took the plunge, using my Communications major as a justification signing up for yet another social networking platform. It’s been about a month now, and I must self-consciously admit– I’m hooked.

The Tumblr site to me seems like a more visual, less organized Twitter. While your posts don’t need to be fewer than 140 characters, I personally tend to ignore the longer passages. The greatest benefit is the visual aspect– no need to click away to another page to view pictures and, more importantly, gifs. While my experiences on Tumblr are still relatively limited, I’ve found the community to be littered with positively every imaginable gif known to man. Than again, I say ‘littered’ like  bad thing. In fact, Tumblr has brought out in me the absolute geek and fan-fanatic. Unlike my twitter and blog, where I try to maintain a certain level of professional posts and demeanor, Tumblr has quickly become my guilty pleasure. Not that the material is inappropriate, but it certainly is without educational benefits. Instead, my favorite posts (is that even the correct lingo?) include gifs from my numerous favorite television shows.

But enough about me and my utter television/film nerdiness. Back to my initial point in writing this post. During my own use of Tumblr, I couldn’t help but wonder how often the platform was used at a professional level. I have one friend who uses Tumblr for the local publication she writes for– that seems like a reasonable and intelligent use of the site. However, unlike Twitter or Facebook pages for companies and brands, I feel like Tumblr isn’t nearly as professional. Once again, this is simply my opinion on the matter, one I’ve gained from only a limited introduction to Tumblr.

I decided to look into the overall use of Tumblr, and found a some interesting facts. For instance, it was only in early 2010 that Tumblr really hit its stride. Within 6 months, Tumblr doubled its page views. People were starting to catch on to this new fad, with nearly 25,000 people a day signing up for profiles.

I discovered that some of the most popular professional users of Tumblr are mainstream media. Tumblr was another medium through which they could publicize their stories. Everyday bloggers (like myself) also caught on, enjoying the ease the platform provided for posting pictures as well as words.

While the businesses that use Tumblr come from various fields, there remains a high presence of media outlets and personal bloggers. Especially in comparison to the rise of Twitter use among big name corporations (i.e. Fortune 500 companies), Tumblr remains a more personal and  social platform. That’s not to say that a company wouldn’t have any success with the website. I think one of the more endearing factors about Tumblr is the lax environment and community. For this reason, small- and medium-sized organizations are among the first professional groups to turn to Tumblr.

But what about everyone else? What do they, and you, think the benefits of Tumblr are?

One article I found explained Tumblr’s success as such: “Many attribute it to a thrust for the ‘tweener’ social media site – more content than Twitter, less than a full blog… Many use Tumblr as a simple alternative to WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad with quick blogging, reblogging, and feed integration options that allow for faster, more automated methods of running a blog.”

Right now, I’m hooked on the site, but how long will my interest in my own obscure obsessions last? How many Princess Bride or Sherlock (BBC) gifs can one possible watch before wanting more? Overall, I wonder if Tumblr will survive to become the “next big thing.” This, in many ways, will be dependent upon industrial adoption of the platform. Will companies make profit from this website? Can they use it to their advantage? Will it really make a difference with their consumers?

What do you think? Will it last? Do you use Tumblr? What are the benefits? Negatives?

I would love to hear opinions from more ‘experienced’ users.

Oh, Thank Blog!

The other day, my post on Meme’s gained some attention after being “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress. My measly 10 random views a day skyrocketed to over a thousand. Comments came pouring in, as did ‘likes’ and even subscriptions to my blog. In fact, the primary reason most of you are reading this now is probably due to my one minor success. I’m not writing this as a boast, but rather to convey my disbelief that quickly led to some over-analyzing of the splendid situation.

I started this blog for a couple of reasons:

  1. To vent to an online community of nameless readers.
  2. To keep myself updated on PR & Media related events.
  3. To get myself (and my resume) out there, even if only as a resume builder.
  4. To deliver news as well as my own opinions.

Going into this experience, reasoning number four was not necessarily leading the pack. I realized that as “just another silly blogger” my chances of actually delivering my messages to a mass audience were pretty slim. I’ve been on twitter for some while, and despite any wit or wisdom (or at least what I would consider to be the two), my followers still mostly include real-life friends and the random spammers who want me to buy prescription drugs off the black market (and I of course don’t block these individuals because, let’s face it, I like to see my number of followers as high as possible–even if they are scumbags or robots). Due to my limited success on twitter, I came into the blogosphere with similar expectations. I planned for it to be more of a personal social networking tool, rather than one with mass appeal. But after the other day’s “Freshly Pressed” occurrence, I found my blog open to whole new opportunities.

The idea of people actually reading these posts is slightly intimidating (sorry for all the grammar and spelling mistakes…), but even more frightening– it’s slightly empowering. While I know my readership isn’t exactly of epic proportions, it’s more than I would ever expect. These readers, and the supporting and informative comments they’ve made lead me to the ultimate point of this latest post: The internet and its social networking sites have truly revolutionized the power of the people in getting their voice heard.

Perhaps I was first struck by this idea when I heard that Tweets would start to be recorded for the Library of Congress (so, years from now, some extremely bored relative of mine can look up my nonsensical 140 character ramblings). This latest blog experience has added to my disbelief. The internet is such a powerful resource in getting our voices heard. PR and Marketing companies caught on to this trend from the very beginning, capitalizing on the free publicity and tools. The best examples of the public using this power comes from Presidential elections, especially this past election when the youth voters made up a great majority of Obama’s support. Our ideas and opinions can be posted for the world to see. There is not filter or gate-keeper to keep our voices from being heard. Of course, garnering enough attention to make your message worthwhile is another campaign, but there remains that ability to freely voice your opinion to the possibility of a mass audience.

I know people will be reading my posts now. This fad may only last another week, or another month, but I at least know that my voice is being heard. People value my opinion and what I have to say. Whether they agree with me or not, whether they learn something from my posts or find them to be aimless ramblings– I know that people are at least taking the time to look at these words that I’ve put effort into creating. This is a wonderful feeling.

While I wanted to (quick) post to reflect upon the powers of the internet, I also want to take the chance to thank everyone for their support. The internet is filled with faceless and nameless viewers that I may never meet, but the positive and encouraging reactions they have to my writings are humbling. Thank you so much for your support and viewership. I wish you success in your blogs, and look forward to reading what everyone else has to say. We live during a very interesting time, and it’s wonderful that we can get the full effect of events through the opinions of others.

Professionalism in a Personal Sphere

The internet is a wonderful thing. With just a google search, we can find just about anyone’s facebook, twitter, myspace, or blog. We can reconnect with old classmates, teachers, friends, or co-workers. The information is at our finger tips and readily available. And yet, while these easily accessible social networking sites can do wonders for our personal lives, we must keep in mind that they are PUBLIC information.

I was prompted to write this by one particular tweet from a former co-worker of mine. It was simple and it was in response to a friend. It stated: “I was so high at the time.” Reading it, I couldn’t believe that she would write that. Then I thought back to facebook updates I had seen from classmates in the past. One particular girl I knew was sure to mention “smoking a blunt” in just about every update. I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so careless, especially as young adults soon to be entering into the work environment.

In one of my college Public Relations class, my professor gave us an assignment: Go on your facebook tonight and clean it up. Take down any pictures, comments, or information that you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see.

The simple fact is that more and more employers are using internet searches to screen future employees. One study found that nearly 45% of employers used social networking sites to research applicants! This number only continues to grow as the internet-saavy generation prepares for entering the career sphere.

So what should you do? How should you “clean-up” your sites? Well, take a look of these results from the above-mentioned survey describing why a candidate was “not hired”:

Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 53 percent

Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44 percent

Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35 percent

Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29 percent

Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26 percent

Candidate lied about qualifications – 24 percent

certainly some might argue that their security on facebook or twitter will stop employers from finding inappropriate information, but be aware that this is not always the case. We all have heard the saga of facebook’s inefficient security measures, and we also never know who might be a friend of a friend.

Another major argument is that these sites are PERSONAL, and should be viewed as completely separate from their PROFESSIONAL lives. Unfortunately, to display true professionalism, you must adopt maturity in all aspects of your life. Your employers may not be the only ones googling you on the internet–clients are likely to be similarly interested in finding out exactly who they have hired.

And yet, there is actually a positive side to the increased use of internet screening. If you are one of those candidates who uses the internet wisely, or displays an apt understanding for specific sites while displaying a clear professionalism, then you certainly will have a leg up over the competition. So use the internet and social networking to your advantage. Depending on your field, it could be a crucial deciding point in whether or not you are hired. From the same survey mentioned above, employers listed the reasons why, after an internet screening, they “did hire” employees:

Profile provided a good feel for the candidate’s personality and fit – 50 percent

Profile supported candidate’s professional qualifications – 39 percent

Candidate was creative – 38 percent

Candidate showed solid communication skills – 35 percent

Candidate was well-rounded – 33 percent

Other people posted good references about the candidate – 19 percent

Candidate received awards and accolades – 15 percent

So be smart about what you put on the internet. It’s a public forum, and despite any sort of security, you never know who might be looking. That “silly” picture of you and your friends that night you had “a little too much to drink,” may not seem so “silly” to a future employer.

For more information, check out the survey and its results here.

Tostitos adopts PR campaign tactic

Tostitos brand tortilla chips are just one of a number of brands that have turned to social media and public relations to sell their product. As a division of the Frito-Lay corporation, Tostitos are a well-established product within the market– their appeal is known, and constant reminders of their taste or texture will only be so helpful in selling the product. Therefore, the company has turned to social media and PR tactics to emphasize emotional connections with the brand. The campaign, known as “Tostitos Reunite America,” stems from the Frito-Lay initiative to highlight their role in making “connections among consumers.”

To kick off the campaign, Tostitos sponsored Monday’s college football Bowl Championship title game. During halftime, Tostitos arranged for surprise reunions between some troops and their families. Such reunions are a basic foundation for their campaign which is “focused on reuniting consumers with relatives, friends, former teammates and lost romantic partners.”

Tostitos has especially taken advantage of the social networking site Facebook. By visiting the Tostitos Facebook page, consumers are greeted by the following message: “Facebook is great. Face-to-face is even better. Tell us which Facebook friend or family member you’re dying to reunite with. If you’re picked, we’ll set you up with a once-in-a-lifetime reunion.” The page includes more information about the campaign, including instructions on participating. Consumers can upload video clips explaining why they think they should win a “once-in-a-lifetime” reunion. Rather than focusing on the product itself, Tostitos is making a connection at the emotional level. Says Nancy Reyes, member of the “Tostitos Reunite America” team, “the emotional benefits drive people to be closer to the brand than the functional benefits…It’s nice to focus on the emotional part of the brand and live out its purpose.”

So what are the benefits to this PR and social media driven campaign? Well, most importantly, especially in comparison to modern-day advertising, employing social media is an effective and inexpensive way to drum up business. While the company has not released the monetary figures for the campaign, it can only be expected that, even with the cost of the reunions (an amount that has also not been as of yet released), this campaign will cost significantly less than past campaigns. Plus, the unique approach Tostitos is taking, and their initiative to embrace the social networking sites, shows forward thinking and is sure to catch attention.

 

For more information on the “Tostitos Reunite America” campaign, visit the Tostitos Facebook page, or read the New York Times write-up here.

 

 

 

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Today I got into a discussion with some of my co-workers about the purpose and benefits of Twitter (Note: These are co-workers in a field completely unrelated to public relations and, as women primarily in their mid to late 40s, they had limited knowledge of this mysterious thing called “twitter”). In the midst of explaining WHAT twitter was, I mentioned that I myself have a twitter page. I was met with a similar reaction that I often get from my very own peers– “why?”

Often I’m asked what possibly advantages Twitter has over Facebook. The error here is that people are so quick to compare the two social networking sites. Sure, they have similarities (for instance, I’ll often dumb down my Twitter explanation by comparing it to Facebook status updates), but they are also vastly different. I use Facebook to stay in touch with friends from home, friends from school, friends from abroad, and even the occasional soft-core stalking of people I haven’t seen since high school. While I do “follow” some of these same people on twitter, I look at twitter as a much different platform from which to conduct and access networking and communication.

As I explained to my coworkers today, Twitter is beneficial for companies who want a way to send a quick message to employees or consumers. They can have multiple accounts– perhaps one for Customer support, another for internal communications, and still another with job opening postings. Having done a lot of work on twitter for a recent internship, I realized that most of the Fortune 500 companies are on twitter and have employed it in some of the ways I mentioned above.

But there is much more to twitter than finding out the latest in news from Microsoft or big name car companies. Often the immediate appeal, especially for the youth or starstruck, are the celebrities that use twitter. I will admit that I was similarity drawn to twitter when I found out that I could be following these idolized individuals who we, the masses, usually view as so far away from ourselves, so separate. Twitter gives you a behind-the-scenes sort of view of celebrities– their thoughts, perhaps picture and video posts, what they’re up to, and usually all this goes public without the censorship of their badgering publicists. These sort of things have led to a number of fun scandals for the public (i.e. John Mayer, he was practically asking for it). I myself am a big movie and television buff. I like to see the behind the scenes footage, know what’s happening on set, and even catch up on my spoilers. For this reason, I follow a number of entertainment and film sites on twitter. Their 140 character headlines are sometimes enough, or else I’ll click a link or photo they may provide. I also follow my own brand of celebrities, including directors (such as Jon Favreau) who are always eager to give their most loyal audiences some sneak peeks.

Of course, there are still other reasons to follow people on twitter, such as keep up with friends or getting the latest headlines, but the question often is– Why tweet?

Honestly, I enjoy it. I enjoy coming up with 140 character witticisms that I hope my (few) followers enjoy. It also does come in handy for keeping in touch with my few friends who also tweet. I admit, I’m horrible at keeping in touch, even with all of the modern day advances in communication. And yet, despite my inability to sit down and send an email, I will ALWAYS check my twitter, where I find out that so-and-so got accepted to law school, or so-and-so really enjoyed some movie. These little tidbits are often trivial, but still help me stay connected– to friends, family, websites, news, and even the occasional celebrity.

For companies, the “why tweet?” is obvious– for your business. While studies show that the majority of twitter users are under the age of 30, they are also usually the most technologically advanced. For certain companies, this is exactly the market they are looking for. For other companies, a twitter account still keeps them in touch with this particular target audience. No business needs to completely devote themselves to their twitter account, but it certainly is a good way to keep clients and consumers updated. In crisis communication situations, a twitter account is also beneficial in maintaining a clear and open position. Sure, you could write a whole blog entry (like this one), or you could give multiple updates, as you get them, keeping your audience informed and up to date.

Most recently, I heard that a heart surgeon has decided to employ twitter to give live updates as she performs open heart surgery. At first, I imagined some Scrubs-esque scene where a doctor tweets in between every task– that’s ridiculous, I thought. Then I realized that obviously the surgeon themselves was not tweeting (duh!). It eventually dawned on me that if I had a family member undergoing a difficult and life-threatening procedure, I would want constant updates on their progress. Imagine the countless hours people wait to hear the news, pacing back and forth, unable to settle down until they know the news. What if they could follow the surgery on twitter? Would that reduce their anxiety? Sure, there are probably several problems and possibly even ethical situations there. A few bugs to work out. But what an extraordinary idea.

So if you use twitter for fun, for the news, for the business, or for whatever reason– enjoy it. It’s not Facebook. It’s not a blog. It’s its own site, with its own unique features to be explored and expanded on. Or perhaps it is the very simplicity of twitter that attracts so many of us. As I once tweeted: Twitter is perfect for people like me whose wit rarely reaches anything above 140 characters.

(oh, and P.S. to enjoy some more of my writing, but in a 140 character limit sort of way, feel free to follow me: trickart262)