I’ve been a Tumblr user for a while, using it to curate my Global Thermonuclear War microblog, which, like most Tumblrs, focus on one specific topic. I’ve recently started using Pinterest, which allows me to showcase things I like on a variety of different topics of my choosing. Let’s take a look at what each microblog network brings to the table.
Founded in 2007, Tumblr is a microblogging and social media site. Here’s what you can do with it:
- Sign up and create one or more microblogs. That’s right, you can create as many sites as you want under one user account.
- You can fully customize your microblog yourself, or use one of many themes (there are both free and paid themes available for you to choose from), with a click of a button, and maybe some hand-coding if you’re up for it.
- Posting is easy. You can either use the Tumblr dashboard (more on that below) or use the bookmarklet if you want to push something you find on the Web to your microblog.
- You can easily queue your posts, although sometimes things get broken at Tumblr and your entire queue can be posted in one shot. This has happened to me on several occasions where 20 or more items I had queued up posted when they shouldn’t of have. Queuing is good if you are running a themed blog and want to publish content at regular intervals without having to work in spurts.
- There are two ways you can have content from your favorite Tumblr blogs pushed to you: if you’re a Tumblr user, simply follow the blog; if you’re not a Tumblr user, or prefer not to use the Tumbr dashboard, you can subscribe to the RSS feed of the microsite. If you are a Tumblr microblogger, you’d like people to follow your microblog because then you can get some idea of how many people find what you do interesting. You loose that information if people subscribe via RSS unless you set up your feed with a third-party feed site.
- You can ask a Tumblr user questions via his or her microblog if they have that feature enabled. The microblogger can push your question and their answer to the site easily via the dashboard.
- You can display who follows your microblog on your microblog’s homepage, if you wish. If you don’t, that’s okay, too, but some people have egos.
- If you like a particular post, press a button to like it. If you want to republish (called “reblog” in Tumblrspeak) the content on your own microblog, press a button to republish it. Each like and republish is listed in the comments section of the original post.
- If you want to allow users to discuss posts, you’ll have to go to a third-party system like Disqus, create an account there, and then add their code to your microblog. Otherwise, your post commenting will be limited to likes and reblogs.
- The Tumblr dashboard is a very powerful tool. It not only allows you to read Tumblr microblog posts in a blog format (meaning, single column ordered by time), but post to your microblog(s) by content type, arrange your queue, answer user questions (see previous bullet point) and control your Tumblr account. You can also access each of your Tumblr microblogs via the dashboard.
I prefer using RSS to the Tumblr dashboard when following a Tumblr site. This is because I’m a heavy RSS reader, but I also find the Tumblr content viewer portion of the dashboard to be bland, especially when you consider that there’s a lot of great content to be seen. Here’s what the dashboard looks like on my account. And your account. On everyone’s account. The Tumblr dashboard is not customizable.
I don’t actually mind fixed-width, even though I use a very large screen resolution (1680×1050). I’m pointing this out because Pinterest handles content display differently.
The Tumblr microblogging model is heavily interest by your standard blog model. People want to share content with others, they publish the content, others look at it (if they know how to find it… Tumblr isn’t great at giving people the ability to explore what others are publishing, I don’t think).
Pinterest, founded in 2010, takes microblogging in a different way, with a focus more on the visual than text-based content. Here’s what you can do with Pinterest:
- Sign up and create your Pinterest account.
- Unlike Tumblr, where you can create multiple sites, in Pinterest, you can create multiple boards. Each board can have its own topic or theme of your choosing. They will even give you a few boards that you can work with (e.g. design ideas or fashion) when you create your account.
- Based on what interests you tell them you have, they will suggest users who share similar interest and suggest that you follow one or more of their boards. In other words: they are trying to encourage you to reach out to strangers based on the same things that you may like.
- Items that you want to share with others are called “pins,” and you can create these pins either through a bookmarklet or through the Pinterest UI. When you add your pin, you have to not only decide which board to pin to (and it can only be one board), but you must give it some sort of text. It’s probably best to be somewhat descriptive so that others can find it. You can then tweet your pin on Twitter, or share your finds on Facebook.
- You can see what you and whomever you follow has pinned and where they pinned it on your Pinterest homepage.
- You can view whatever activity your friends have done, view who is following you, and see if anyone has liked or repinned your content. Repinning is the same thing as Tumblr’s reblogging feature.
- It is extremely easy to see what other people have pinned, either by topic or by, well, everything.
- As a Pinterester, you do not have any customization abilities. You are pretty much stuck with their layout and color scheme.
Unlike Tumblr, Pinterest takes a very visual approach to sharing content with users. This is what my main Pinterest page looks like:
It’s no surprise that Pinterest would take the visual approach: the content it wants users to focus on is imagery, not text. Your eye is drawn around the page, and whatever the Pinterester wrote along with their pin barely registers.
Both Tumblr and Pinterest have iOS apps. Both are mostly focused on bringing you content from other users, and are absolutely shitty when it comes to allowing you to push content to their respective sites.
Tumblr is very good for bloggers. Pinterest is very much a visual microblogging site a la Twitter. Each have different community focuses, and if they can come up with sustainable business models, they will serve their communities well. I am very interested in seeing how they will grow their respective platforms (Tumblr hasn’t really over the years, I don’t think, but that’s okay as they’ve a really solid foundation already).
Update: According to Gizmodo, Pinterest is Tumblr for women.