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Purple Magazine's Olivier Rahm has a Tumblelog Purple Magazine's Olivier Rahm has a Tumblelog

News Technology

Tumblr: A New Friend to Fashion

lunedì, dic 13, 2010, 12:29

We’ve talked about Tumblr before on TribaSpace as an example of an unchallenging, intuitive blogging platform for beginners. Though the platform has always been credible, this past year we witnessed an incredible boom in Tumblr popularity – one which has largely outgrown its resources and which resulted in a server failure that lasted almost 24 hours last week (sparking internet-wide reaction and a series of offshoot blogs like What I Did When Tumblr Was Down). In August, Tumblr exceeded 1 billion posts, and last month added another $25 million in funding to the preexisting investment pool of $10 million – the company is now said to be valued at about $135 million. When the New York-based company was consulted on its statistics in October, they announced 47 million unique visitors per month, 2.7 billion page views per month, and over 9 million users, with approximately 30,000 new users joining the platform every day. Many believe the site is slated for a massive financial payout.

Tumblr’s claim to fame has always been its amenability to single-topic blogs and its prioritization of photos and videos over text. Bloggers are immediately encouraged (although the platform is 100% workable to one’s needs) to upload just one photo, just one video, just one link, or just a bit of text. Because of its propensity for short-form blogging, Tumblr is often referred to as a hybrid between traditional blogging and Twitter – a microblog.

Its addictive quality has made it the platform of choice for superlative, and consequently, share-centric blogs – it’s not uncommon to see blogs in the realm of What I Ate Today, the famed What I Wore, best/worst compilations, and web-isodes (mini online TV series). Without a doubt, like Facebook or Twitter, Tumblr is a gateway drug of sorts that results in an inexplicable urge for more. And “Tumblr Fame” (getting “reblogged,” “followed,” and a lot of “likes”) holds a certain cache amongst the community’s members.

Tumblr is most wonderful, perhaps, because in addition to functioning as a blog platform, it is also a social network by definition. When viewing any Tumblr blog, you will see two buttons in the top-right corner: Follow and Join Tumblr (if logged in, this will be replaced with Dashboard). At every turn, the viewer is encouraged to join a community of Tumblr bloggers. But who makes up the Tumblr community? Lucky for the fashion industry, Tumblr has made a conscious effort to cater to “creative types.”

And it’s a good thing too, since fashion “tumblelogs” make up a fluctuating 16-20% of the platform’s most popular sites. Most notably, Tumblr plays host to Lookbook.Nu and Textbook, but industry insiders have also dearly embraced the platform. By now everyone knows about Terry Richardson’s photostream, Terry’s Diary, but now you can add Purple Fashion editor Olivier Zahm to the list of fashionistos obsessively “tumblelogging” informal but interesting content. Vogue and Elle magazines are also particularly active on the platform.

Perhaps the most relevant recent hire Tumblr has made in this regard is Rich Tong, a co-founder of Weardrobe, which sold to in late 2009. In charge of fashion, Tong is Tumblr’s first specialized community director. David Karp, who founded Tumblr in 2007, has announced the platform’s intentions of better catering to the creative communities they’ve inevitably attracted. “Many publications primarily care about Tumblr as a traffic driver, but we’ve noticed that the ones who use Tumblr to express a point of view are the ones who succeed within the community,” said Tong. “Once they do that, the traffic takes care of itself.” This is, Karp believes, what will continue to set Tumblr apart from Facebook, which has handled specialized communities in a particularly elegant manner.

And now, well equipped with an industry expert to guide the process, it looks like Tumblr might expand into e-commerce territory. Of A Kind, which offers limited edition items from emerging designers, was the first store to launch on Tumblr. Co-founder and president Erica Cerulo has said, “Building our site on Tumblr seemed like an obvious move — it has allowed us to put our content in front of early adopters in a place where they were already congregating.” Cerulo is referring, of course, to the social media mantra we refer to time and time again here in TribaSpace’s Tech x Fashion column: if you can take advantage of the search optimization capabilities of a preexisting user base, do, wherever possible.

Francine Ballard, founder and editorial director of DesignerSocial, has the same idea. “As a platform Tumblr is almost purely visual,” she observes. “Most of what gets reblogged is prompted by a sort-of visceral response. So by definition, it has the potential to be a fantastic medium for fashion.”

But also, Tumblr is share-compatible by design. They support and promote a bookmarket, as well as Tumblr mobile apps for Blackberry, iPhone and Android, that all enable users to “tumblelog” in practically one step. Also new in this regard is Cortex, a web extension for social media that is compatible with Google Chrome. The user finds any content they consider sharable, then clicks-and-holds the mouse, which prompts a colorful wheel of sharing options to appear around the cursor. Who’s there? Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper…and Tumblr.

Samantha Garfield

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