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With Facebook having just announced it recently hit the half billion user mark and with Twitter declaring this week that it received its 20 billionth tweet, it’s hard to comprehend that there may be another phenomenon biting at the heels of the giants of social media. Over recent years we have seen other contenders try, and fail, to reach the top spot – even Google can’t seem to be able to do it despite their continued attempts.

So when I heard the recent hype around microblogging site Tumblr, I wanted to check it out and see what all the fuss is about.

Founded by David Karp in 2007, Tumblr was created as a way for the average person to easily manage a blog without the complications inherent in a search engine-friendly application like WordPress. Think of your grandmother being able to start a blog and that gives you an idea.

To date Tumblr has about 6.6 million users and apparently 25,000 new people are signing up every day. Tumblr is clearly different to MySpace or Facebook – while the idea is the same (to connect to people with similar interests or background) the venue is far different. Described as the space “in between Twitter and Facebook” the site allows users to upload images, video, audio and quotes to their pages by emphasising the types of graphic content which can’t be reproduced on rival formats. Users can then follow others whose posts become visible in a live “stream”, these snippets can then be “liked” by clicking on a heart or “reblogged” to the users own followers. What sets this aside from its competitors is that the volume of followers is not given, in an attempt to boost the “community” feel of the site, which values commentary above simple links to outside sites.

My verdict?…well, our American friends across the pond are beginning to embrace it with open arms, with Newsweek and Rolling Stone both signing up to engage their readers in conversation. Will the UK be next to jump on the bandwagon? Tumblr’s figures are certainly impressive and there seems to be a growing momentum behind the website and despite the fact, in many ways, Tumblr does offer what Facebook and Twitter do, it does this in a very unique way. I’m watching this space!

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