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.