Having Cake And Eating It Too: Tumblr vs. Twitter

Why pick sides when you can have both? In 2010, Singer/Songwriter John Mayer vocally announced that he was dumping Twitter for Tumblr. A fan of the artist myself and as an advocate for social media, I was intrigued as to how he justified his switch. A few questions came to mind as I continued reading.

What is the difference between Tumblr and Twitter?

Tumblr is like a giant swap meet. I personally like to think of it as an art blog. With over 22 million blogs, Tumblr is defined by its variety of content which ranges from audio and video to text and images. It is predominately visual with no text or character limit. Users can follow one another. Once you follow a blog, you will receive its updates in your homepage feed. Conversation comes in the form of asking questions and in sharing (or in Tumblr terms “reblogging”). It functions much like Facebook’s sharing or Twitter’s retweeting.

Twitter is a microblog. In 140 characters, users can share and send informative messages to his or her group of followers. Tweeting is the act of posting a status. It can be sent @somebody or it can go unaddressed. Users can read the tweets of whomever they are following. Like a blog, the tweets scroll down in a giant newsfeed, only at a much faster pace. Twitter also functions as an intermediary. With shortened link effect, users can include URLs to redirect readers to other sources.

Who might choose one over the other?

Tumblr, according to The Social Landscape, is a social-networking site, but I have to disagree. Social networking sites are only valuable through the visible networks. On Tumblr, you cannot necessarily see your followees’ (who you’re following) feeds. Only until items are reblogged do you see the original source and the makings of his or her network. Tumblr is a platform for expression. It’s best for individuals who have something to say (in more than 140 characters) and who like to share ideas.

Twitter, as a microblog, is a more information friendly venue. It is a text-oriented platform that is used primarily as a referral. Twitter itself does not allow other media to be shared on its platform. That is what the shortened link is for. For many this may be a perk. For some, it may be inconvenient.  Twitter is ideal for people on the go who may only be interested in key points of information. While Twitter is still a means of expression, it is a limited means of expression.

As a musician, is one outlet a more effective means of promotion?

According to the social landscape, Tumblr is a prime platform for creating brand awareness. Because Tumblr offers the option to upload multimedia directly onto the blog, it acts as the ideal forum for artists. Twitter, on the otherhand, does not allow users to directly post music onto their page.

For a branding perspective, the two complement each other. Tumblr gives the option for bloggers to send automatic tweets whenever something new is posted. This is a great way to direct traffic to a more personal site. Who wouldn’t take advantage of both of these free sites?

Does John Mayer really know what he is talking about?

It is ignorant to think that Twitter isn’t useful. I Tweet Honestly, an article written July 7th, 2010, reports that Mayer, before he deleted his account, had over 1 million followers while only following 47. He left Twitter with 3.7 million followers. From first glances, it looks like Mayer was unaware of how to properly use Twitter to its fullest potential. Mayer would be smart to engage his large Twitter network directly to not only create brand awareness, but to maintain the relationship between him and his number on constituent: his fans.

Why Rebecca Black Could Use a Publicist

The saying goes, “Any publicity is good publicity,” but is that necessarily true?

Just ask 14-year-old YouTube sensation Rebecca Black. Black is the pop singer in the viral video, “Friday.” Spring 2011, the video had a crashing effect on the world of social media. Obtaining over 160 million views, the teen singer was instantly introduced to stardom. Sadly, it wasn’t the kind of notoriety most would prefer. Black and her infamous music video were labeled by most as… for lack of better words, terrible.

Publicity can be defined as public awareness. This includes taking the good with the bad.  Because of the immediacy of Web 2.0. and the engaging format of social media, Rebecca Black now is a household name. The impact of the video made its way to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Black currently holds the top position as the most tweeted topic for the first half of this year. Unfortunately, the bulk of the young star’s success can be attributed to the influence of negative comments.

According to the study, “Following The Fashionable Friend,” the generation of publicity through blogs versus online magazines, researchers concluded that blogs (a representation of social media) have a greater effectiveness of gaining publicity versus the online magazines (a representation of traditional media). This conclusion was supported by the idea that blogs foster para-social interaction, the social media version of word of mouth. While we cannot completely compare this study to the Rebecca Black  (due to the difference of mediums), we can find similarities and relevant suggestions in the study’s findings.

Social media warrants a certain level of personal interaction. According to the “The Social Landscape,” an infographic by CMO.com, on the social landscape scale, YouTube is a great medium to facilitate a brand, next to Facebook. It is also a good platform for encouraging communication. ARK Music Factory was smart in considering YouTube as an effective venue, but unless used to its fullest potential, YouTube will act like a TV channel (one-way communication). Rebecca Black shouldn’t be blamed for the poor management of communication from her party. The finger should be pointed at whoever choose YouTube as the platform and at whoever failed to maintain the page.

YouTube is a great forum to generate communication, but in order for communication to transpire, both a sender and a receiver need to be present. While viewers bombarded Black’s video with negative and nasty comments, Black’s representation remained nearly invisible on the site. Black herself responded to tweets, but there was never a direct hit on the real source of negativity. It was up until mid June that the original video was taken down.

This video is not the original. It is the correct music video.

This is where a publicist would have come in handy. These conversations were happening and because nobody hit the direct source of negative publicity, the bad press became almost uncontrollable. While much of the bad publicity does come from para-social interaction, we mustn’t discredit the video. The song was poorly written and unfortunately, the real victim is Black who was only responsible for singing the track.

The study highlights that because blogs work best for gaining publicity, transparency is more important than ever in gaining credibility. Social media platforms, because they can be so personal, run higher risks in establishing credibility. As a result, the return of investment is more than likely always worth it. Maybe if Black had established herself as a credible online presence first, she would’ve had a strong foundation of followers to defend her on online forums. There would’ve been more to lose, but on the other hand, much more to gain.