Tumblr is a social network site used by 10% of people who prowl the internet, according to the Pew Research Center, (“The Secret Lives Of Tumblr Teens,” by Elspeth Reeve, New Republic, March 2016, pg. 51) My blog first appeared there in 2010. The site was lively and I gained followers whom I followed, in return. Checking out their blogs, I was surprised, like a restaurant patron who’d walked through the wrong door and discovered he was standing in the kitchen.
Mostly, I saw lots of pictures that reflected the blogger’s interest — old movies, old cars or cats, for instance. Eventually, I left that space and set up on Facebook. The differences between the two networks were notable. Facebook required a user to provide identification. Tumblr didn’t. Facebook allowed a subscriber one site. Tumlir had no limit.
Since those early years, I have returned to Tumblr, using it as a second drop-off for my blog. Few people subscribe to my page and recently, I have discovered why. According to the Pew Research Center, 23% of Tumblr bloggers are teenage girls. (Ibid pg. 51) Allowed anonymity, they feel free to share their feelings of inadequacy and to complain about being bullied. One blogger, a teenager from Australia, catapulted herself to fame and a million followers with one-liners and a killer domain name: pizza.com. Anyone searching for the pie is destined to meet Pizza, a girl who complains about her life but demonstrates a sense of humor. When Ellen DeGeneres ordered 20 large pizza pies for the 2015 Academy Awards, Pizza sent out a message to her followers. “Did u guys see me at the Oscars?” For that quip, she earned 500,000 hits, one of them from John Green, the author of The Fault is in Our Stars. He blogged back, “You looked great, pizza.”
As mindless as all this picture blogging might seem, teens have a knack for turning their sites into serious moneymakers. Some of them earn thousands of dollars a week using click adds. When the youngsters get too creative with content, Tumblr blocks the site. Still, given the ingenuity of these young people, the future looks bright for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
I doubt I have much to say to this youngest generation, but I’ve decided to stay on Tumblr. These tweens and teens have much to teach me, especially about marketing. Already, I’ve learned that when moving into a new neighborhood, it’s a good idea to check out who’s living on the block.