#Tumblr vs. #Facebook: Ask a Teen if You Want to Know the Difference

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Tumblr is certainly growing in popularity.  A recent Mashable article mentioned that according to ComScore, Tumblr scored 13.4 million unique visitors in the U.S. in July, increasing 218% from the same time last year. The “blog-meets-social-network service” is experiencing what most are calling explosive growth.   Tumblr has been on my radar for quite sometime having witnessed how our teens use it and rave about it.  However, that doesn’t mean that the younger generation is abandoning Facebook any time soon.  Now, they’re using both networks for similar yet different reasons.

I asked two teenagers (ages 16 & 17) about their passion for Tumblr and Facebook because I wanted insight into their fascination with both communities.  I thought it would help me to understand the difference from a teen’s point of view.  Here’s the interview with teens that were more than willing to offer their raw and youthful insight (unedited and uncensored content):

Q: What’s the difference between Tumblr and Facebook?

–       Tumblr is a blog and Facebook isn’t.

–       Facebook doesn’t allow you to blog.

–       Facebook is a place to connect with friends.

–       I think Tumblr is an anti-social social network.

–       Tumblr is less of a place to connect and is more an expression of myself.

Q: Which do you use more?

–       Tumblr, because it’s better than Facebook.

  • I don’t care what people think about what I say.
  • It’s easier to update your status on Facebook, but we just don’t care enough to do that all of the time.

–       On Tumblr you can say what you’re doing, but you don’t have too say what you’re doing.

  • I don’t want everyone to know what I’m doing.
  • On Tumblr, it’s more socially acceptable to not say what you’re doing.

Q: Would you stop interacting on one to spend all of your time on the other?

–       We don’t want to give up Facebook.

  • It’s necessary because it’s an easy way to find something out.
  • We get homework from classmates and we don’t have to text a best friend to see what she’s doing.

–       Facebook has a connection purpose, but Tumblr is about me!

–       On Tumblr I can relate to others more than I can on Facebook.

–       When you talk to people you don’t know on Tumblr it’s awesome, but you can’t do this on Facebook, it’s really creepy.

–       You can tell so much more about a person on Tumblr because it’s about the individual and not about connecting with other people.

Q: What do you like the most about Tumblr?

–       Personally, it gives me inspiration for the things I like…photography, art, cool images.

–       You can find a blog about anything you love.  I follow a bunch of Lady Gaga blogs … it all comes up on your dashboard and you can fill your dash with things you like.

–       On Facebook you see all the things you don’t like.

–       On Tumblr, you can catch up on the videos, memes and all the funny stuff.

–       We’re learning more on Tumblr about news, information and things about the Internet.  We found out that Osama Bin Laden was dead and all about Libya on Tumblr.

–       I even donated to a cancer cause through Tumblr.

Q: What do you like the most about Facebook?

–       You get to talk to friends, writing funny things on other people’s walls, look at friends’ photos and videos.

–       No games though…I use my phone for games or my iPod.

–       We also like to see when people are single or in a relationship (except when it’s someone you like).

–       There are a lot of people who like to have many friends, it’s not as important to us, but we know people who love the popularity of having a big network. When I had over 1,000 friends, I started to delete them.

–       I like the hide functionality on Facebook because I can hide people and they don’t know it.

–       I play around with the privacy settings so that some people can see certain things and others can’t.

Q: What is missing from either one of these networks (if you could sit in a room and tell Mark Zuckerberg or David Karp to add features, what would those features be)?

–       No changes right now to either network.

–       Both places are perfect for what they provide.

–       I may not ask them to change anything, but if I could sit in a room with David Karp, then I might just ask for him for a hug.

–       I might ask to visit Mark Zuckerberg’s new house 🙂

Q: Do you think you will stay on Tumblr and Facebook or if something better comes along you will jump ship?

–       I wouldn’t leave Tumblr … but I might leave Facebook.

–       We left MySpace, which was a crappy combination of both Facebook and Tumblr.

–       Now we just like that Tumblr and Facebook are two individual and separate networks that both make a lot of sense for us.

There you have it…the feelings of teens about their likes and dislikes when it comes to engagement preferences (or lack thereof).  The strongest opinion comes down to expression and individuality, and not necessarily connections. It should be interesting to see how Tumblr and Facebook continue to grow and what these communities offer to the teens that have very strong convictions about why they participate on two very different networks.


7 Responses to " #Tumblr vs. #Facebook: Ask a Teen if You Want to Know the Difference "

  1. Very perceptive comments from the teens. Shows a kind of divide between what the Facebook C-suite wants Facebook to be and what the users (teens) want it to be.

    All platforms are malleable according to user-feedback and are to some extent designed by the users themselves, but there’s something more to this I think, possibly having to do with “worldview”, as Grunig mentions. FB has a worldview which differs from Google’s worldview, and you’ll probably see it more visibly not only when the platform (FB, etc.) first comes out, like G+ did recently, but also in the way it evolves, or in the way (the how, when[frequency]) & extent to which the C-suite people want it to evolve.

    If the evolution of the platform is not responsive enough to the needs of users in a particular demographic – they leave.


    Might it be useful to actually print your name along with a time-stamp at the top of each article for people who sometimes cut and paste bits into Comment fields & want to credit you as author? Also, I wasn’t quite sure if you yourself had written the article, or one of your colleagues. Maybe put some sharing icons (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn) as well so that I can see if they can be copied and pasted as well. Hope this makes sense.

  2. Deirdre says:

    Hi Bruce, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that it’s definitely about the user and what they do to mold their own expression or participation on a platform. Facebook is very different from Tumblr and it’s also different than G+. Although there are similar functions to suite the needs of many, these networks have to differentiate to some extent in order to (1) capture different demographics / psychographics and (2) so that the they can co-exist. I can’t see one wiping out the other unless the users are frustrated, similar to what the teens said about MySpace and how it was a “crappy combination of Tumblr and Facebook.” I enjoy hearing what the teens have to say the most because they are our future. The two I interviewed had a reason for both Facebook and Tumblr. As much as they said that they didn’t care what people thought about what they were doing, they were still interested in knowing what other people were doing. Facebook and Tumblr both serve a purpose. How G+ plays into this is yet to be determined with the younger generations. In a year from now, I’ll be interested to see the numbers on G+ to see who is using it the most.

    I think your suggestion to print my name and a time stamp is an excellent idea. From this point forward it’s done! I write all of the content on PR 2.0 Strategies, however, occasionally I will have guest writers. As a matter of fact I have a series of guest posts coming up, as I get involved in a project that will take a lot of my focus for a couple of months. Thanks again for your comments and the great suggestion.

  3. Tex says:

    This article is great! Makes me feel like an old fogey, the kids have some great insights.

  4. anon says:

    This article is very true! I’m 16 and tumblr just lets me express myself and lets me post whatever i want, but on fb its like i post what other people want to see. tumblr rules!

  5. Sel says:

    Tumblr is a place where people are much more accepting of others for who they are. On facebook, you can’t really say what you want to say because you put yourself at risk of bullying or discrimination. Such as, on facebook, someone admits that they are homosexual and people reply with negative comments. On tumblr, someone comes out, and they are rewarded with friendly messages of congratulations.Facebook is pretty much a place full of people who are all people you ‘know’ but really care nothing about. You can have 500 friends on facebook you have nothing in common with and only get spammed with the things you hate to see. On tumblr, you can form actual friendships and follow people who post things you have interest in. You can do whatever you want on tumblr, actually. Tumblr is also intelligent. People post things with actual meaning and actually think. On facebook, I’m sorry to say that most of the content is of low intelligence. There is also the factor of tumblr being anonymous. You can post things without having to worry about people you know seeing them, and knowing who you are.

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