Why Tumblr speaks to teens

aNewDomain.net—My household has three Tumblr users. They are a teen and tweens. I remembered the day I considered using Facebook. This was in 2006, when I heard about 17-year-old Ashley Qualls, of Detroit, Michigan. She was the first baby cyber millionaire.

Her MySpace home business, called WhateverLife, was spotted by ValueClick’s Ian Moray when he saw how much traffic and business she was generating from her basement. He brokered a deal for her to sell ads. Her business: creating MySpace layouts for fellow teens.

After the ads appeared and the data tabulated by Google Analytics, her booming biz was pulling in 7 million plus individuals and 60 million page views a month.

Qualls subsequently received many offers for her company, which she turned down.

If you spent much time online in those days, and had a hobby, home business, baby pictures, or were a teen, you had a MySpace page.

Facebook came to our social consciousness on April 16, 2007, on the day of the Virginia Tech Massacre. It was the event that changed Facebook from an insider college club to a globally-recognized platform.

On April 16, every news station in the country displayed screenshots of Facebook pages—a student looking for her classmates, the shooter and his comments and photos, the university staff posting security alerts, parents desperately begging for a response from their Virginia Tech kids, and finally condolences and a new system of university-wide Facebook based alert-system.

It was all shared virtually.

Before this, Facebook was primarily used by college-kids and their families or stay- at- home moms. The massacre gave it a real- world test-run. Five years, one month and 2 days later, Facebook goes public. Zuckerberg becomes as eponymous as Gates or Jobs.

Today tweens and teens are backing away from Facebook and migrating to Tumblr. Tumblr is not perfect, it’s a place for public opinion and there are vocal disputes. However, the cadence of responses is much less than that on Facebook.

Young people need room to expand their minds, have a virtual sit-in with people their age and be themselves and they find this with Tumblr. Mom and Dad may not look at Tumblr, but teachers know and check in on student accounts.

Some of the teen-friendly features on Tumblr are:

  • Customizable and intuitive interface
  • Security because of the absence of a native comment feature for posts
  • Culturally cooler, subversive
  • Commercial-free
  • Smaller, intimate friend groups
  • Site is rarely down
  • Light, fast, and easy

Tumblr is for kids who run to their smart device or desktop before school, right after, and then count sheep with their Tumblr blog. They just want to dive into themselves and be people like them and celebrate their interests. They want friends who act like friends. There is some bullying on Tumblr but not to the level perpetuated on Facebook.

Tumblr has a setting which encourages you to upgrade to get your post or blog seen by more eyes but you’ll never see it unless you know it’s there.

Facebook is simply too big. Every home business, major corporation, media entity, socio-political group, and political faction has a Facebook page.  With a reach so broad it’s hard to be seen as an intimate universe. Tumblr, on the other hand, adds a layer of kinship and fan-club enthusiasm to the lives of those who do have armies of living breathing friends.

Last I checked, Ashley Qualls is doing just fine with her own clothing-line, replete with a Twitter account and Facebook biz page.

She doesn’t have a Tumblr blog, but then maybe she’s too old. She’s 23 now.


Viki Reed

Viki Reed

Contributor at Tech Page One
Viki Reed is a writer and photographer with experience in New York , Los Angeles and now her home state of New Jersey. Visit her online and www.vikireedphotography.com, or on Facebook at viki reed photography.
Viki Reed
Viki Reed
Tags: Downtime,Tech Culture