Tumblr & Pinterest are now the #2 and #3 social networks for user 'stickiness'

Glenn Peoples, Billboard, 1/11/12

Facebook dominates U.S. social media. Well behind Facebook are two growing social networks you might not be aware of, Tumblr and Pinterest. They have fewer users than Twitter and even MySpace, but they command quite a bit of time. Other social networks have more users but Tumblr ranks second only to Facebook in average time spent at the site. Pinterest, a virtual pinboard that tracks users' interests, is a social platform worth watching. comScore puts Pinterest's U.S. unique visitors at 4.9 million for November. The site first got on comScore's radar in May 2011 with 418,000 unique U.S. visitors. What Pinterest lacks in visitors it makes up for in stickiness: visitors spent an average of 88.3 minutes at the site in November, third only to Facebook (394 minutes) and Tumblr (141.7 minutes). The undisputed laggard in time spent per visitor is Google+ with a mere 5.1 minutes per U.S. unique visitor. That's less than half the time spent at MySpace (12.0 minutes), a third of time spent at LinkedIn (16.0 minutes) and almost one-fifth of the time spent at Twitter (24.4 minutes).


Commentary: Should your arts organization use Tumblr?

Thomas Hughes, Technology in the Arts blog, 2/1/11

Tumblr has grown significantly since its launch in 2007. Some see Tumblr's future as taking on blogging services like WordPress and Blogger. The site's hallmarks are its streamlined posting dashboard and reblogging feature. Add on likes and short replies, and this gives the site a familiar feel to social networks like Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. Should arts organizations add it to their group of social networks? Tumblr's features make it easy and accessible for the individual blogger, but that doesn't necessarily make it great for organizations. Here are a few issues that might be irritating for some arts organizations:

  • Tumblr is a Clique: While a Tumblr blog can be viewed by anyone, features like reblogging and replies are only available (and visible) to someone signed into Tumblr.
  • Kept Out of the Conversation: Tumblr users can leave short replies, but there are no systems in place to let authors and other bloggers reply to that comment. What follows is a mess of reblogs and screen captures of comments in an effort to make a threaded conversation. Some have tried to solve this problem using a service like Disqus, but then visitors' comments will not show up in the regular feed or be accessible for Tumblr users.
  • Customization on the site can be tough: The options are limited and those options change completely based on which theme you have installed. Some themes severely limit your options for color choice and background image, making branding difficult.
  • [Hard to track] reblogs, replies, and likes. While these show up in your update feed, there is no built-in way to track them. It's an exciting experience to see a post go viral and get re-blogged multiple times, but tracking that effect through Tumblr over time is extremely difficult.
  • Managing the Archive: Managing past posts is difficult and while a mass editor exists, this just gives a visual overview of your posts over time. It's hard to track a post from more than a few months back and there is no way to export your archives.

So should an arts organization take advantage of Tumblr anyway? If you have an existing, integrated social media strategy and primary blog in place, it may be worth a shot. If your organization is thinking of making this their main blog, I would hold off since it will be harder to manage in the long run and success metrics would be a pain. It will be interesting to see how Tumblr is going to improve the site to focus on the creative community and what effect it may have on how people interact with blogs in the future.


FROM TC: The following comments were added to Thomas Hughes' blog post:

  • I started a blog on Tumblr in June. I decided on Tumblr because of the ease of posting and its aesthetic quality. Many blogs on Wordpress and Blogger either look old/outdated or very text-heavy. Disqus works just fine for me and my followers -- I disagree with your view above. There is no disconnect in my view. I also like the interactivity of Tumblr, and I'm sure with time, it'll give me what I sought in the first place.
  • We've used tumblr for years now for live-blogging our twenty-four hour theater festival. All participants can email status updates and upload photos. Makes for a fascinating glimpse into the creative process for the audience."
  • The organization I work for is a statewide arts advocacy non-profit. I use our Tumblr site as a place to post arts-related content that doesn't typically fit onto our Facebook or Twitter feeds. It's especially nice as a place to share videos and photos. I'm already looking at this content in my daily work, and Tumblr makes it so easy to share things. I think I spend 5 minutes a week updating the Tumblr feed -- so although it hasn't become popular yet, it's a low-risk investment.

Commentary: A beginner's guide to Pinterest

Rob Lammie, Mashable.com, 12/26/11

1. What is Pinterest? A place to organize and share online images you find interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded, these images become known as Pins, which the user can place on customized, themed Boards. If you want to check out Pinterest, you have to be invited. Sign up for invites on the site (prepare for a wait), or chances are you already know a Pinner who will gladly send you an invite.

2. What is Pinterest For? While there's nothing wrong with just pinning pictures of cool stuff all day, Pinterest can be a really valuable tool for people with a specific purpose in mind. Artists use it to organize inspiring images for their work. DIY-ers can bookmark tutorials. Boards can have multiple contributors, so collaborating with co-workers on a project is easy with everyone's ideas and inspiration in one place.

3. How Do I Pin Stuff? When you come across an image you like, click the "Pin It" button and select the picture. Assign the pin to a Board, add accompanying text, and you're done.

4. What's the Social Angle? When you see a good Pin, leave a comment, Like it, or Re-pin. If you find a Board that's especially interesting, follow its updates. Like Twitter, it's an open network, so follows don't require permission, and you don't have to follow anyone back. You can tweet or share pins on Facebook to help expand your network across all three services.

5. Anything Else I Should Know? Most Pins are photos, but you can pin videos, too. Pinterest might seem like a natural place to promote your small business, but do so with caution. It's frowned upon to spam your Boards with nothing but your own projects. Build your brand by linking and connecting to people who share the same style or pinning images that inspire your company's work.


Commentary: Why and how nonprofits should use Pinterest

Joe Waters, HuffingtonPost.com, 1/7/12

One site I'm committed to spending more time on in the new year is Pinterest. It's easy to use, powerfully visual, populated with cause marketing-loving women and growing like crazy. 4,000% in six months! The heavy presence of women 25-44 on Pinterest is what distinguishes it from other new social media platforms, which are generally populated by men 18-24. Here's a site that already has the audience everyone wants: women and moms who make most of the household buying decisions. Most of the pinning happening right now on Pinterest is around art, home decor, style and other things women love. Brands are also getting involved. Is your nonprofit right for Pinterest? Ask yourself these questions.

Do you have an interesting or compelling story to tell with images? Pinterest is a natural site for cultural institutions. Maybe your nonprofit helps needy kids and you have a pinboard called "happy moments" to capture the great things you're doing for and with kids.

Are you engaged on other social media platforms? I wouldn't start with Pinterest unless I already had an active blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Are you looking to reap the rewards of local SEO? Pinterest can give your SEO a big boost because the links posted there are being posted by real people and not marketers and spammers trying to game the system. This won't last forever so get busy now!

Keep the following in mind as you get started on Pinterest:

Be useful. Pinterest users are looking for inspiration. Speak to that muse. Just don't pin a picture of [your] new lobby. Highlight an architectural detail that makes it interesting.

Give the job to someone who has an eye for aesthetics. Not everyone has a good eye for pictures. Look at some of the images on Pinterest. They're beautiful. Yours should be too.

Don't just pin, re-pin. Pinterest is just like any other social network. It's not all about you. Search through Pinterest and find images that you can re-pin on your boards.

Let your supporters pin for you. Add "pin it" buttons to your blog or web site so your visitors and supporters can create their own pin boards that highlight your cause.
Fundraising ideas are already popping up. Check out this one from Help Attack!

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