I’ve been giving Twitter a hard time for ages now. It’s well documented that it is insecure (and I know for a fact that problems that got massive coverage a couple of weeks ago are still going strong) and for me it has no features to speak of… only limitations. In my own “professional circle” of marketers and SEOs, there is something of a community vibe, but really its mostly about being on the outside looking in. If you’re a “name” outside Twitter then your loyal following will turn up and you’ll feel like it’s a pretty good place. Otherwise, more or less poo.
I’ve been trying Tumblr out on a on-and-off basis for a year or so now and for me it knocks Twitter into a cocked hat. Ironically, I tweeted this fact and a couple of people immediately asked why that was. So, in response to massive public demand…
Why I think Tumblr is better than Twitter
(Scores are arbitrarily assigned by me, out of 10)
- Embedding media into your feed
One thing that is fucking irksome about Twitter is that if you want to share audio, video or a picture then… you can’t. You can use an ancillary service like Twitpic but otherwise you’re reduced to URL shorteners. Tumblr lets you embed whatever the hell you like directly into your feed. Smart.
Tumblr 8 – 0 Twitter
- Proper conversation threads
“Conversations” on Twitter are just so much bullshit. With it’s weird, nerdy syntax and completely unthreaded formatting it is difficult to maintain a discourse, and the chats you do have are pretty much impenetrable to an outsider. Tumblr uses an old convention that simply indents replies in order, so you can engage in a conversation and see the history right there. Until Google Wave goes live, online conversations are always going to be badly formatted, but at least Tumblr makes it about as good as it can be.
Tumblr 6 – 3 Twitter
- Look ‘n’ Feel
One of Twitter’s raison d’etres is its stripped down, minimalist ethos. Whether that’s a grand statement of intent or just a consequence of trying to keep bandwidth down, the outcome is that there is little you can do with your Twitter page. Tumblr’s themes can radically alter your page’s look – and even functionality. Sure, Twitter lets you upload a tiny icon and a background image.. well gosh, jeepers and whoopee-do.
Tumblr 7 – 2 Twitter
Twitter’s 140 character limit is, let’s be honest, part godsend part arsehole. Sure – you don’t have to spend all day crafting a blog post to make your point, but also you can’t spend all day crafting something for Twitter. It’s a stunted format devoid of quality in itself. Think about it: have you really, truly ever seen a memorable Tweet? How many Tweets have you bookmarked to revisit later on? Face it: none. Whilst Tumblr has the default functionality of a microblogging format, there’s nothing to stop you writing something longer and more profound like a traditional blog (when did blogs get traditional? Man I’m feeling my age.) Add all the media embedding you can do – audio, video, chat, photography – this is a cakewalk in Tumblr’s favour
Tumblr 8 – 3 Twitter
One of Twitter’s main concerns seems to be to stop SEOs using the damn thing to help give their properties a boost. Whilst I can kind of sympathise with the aim, the fact remains that Twitter is full of ballwashers with their ‘get rich’ ebooks. BY contrast, good SEOs are the kind of people who would use Twitter to draw attention to good content if there was more incentive to do so. Sure, we’re sharing content among ourselves with the URL shorteners and all that crap, but really its the sort of circlejerking stuff that used to be the preserve of the blogroll and when Twitter starts to die they’ll just go somewhere else that does pass equity. Tumblr just let you link. Easy, eh?
Tumblr 8 – 0 Twitter
- Proper Attribution
You see something cool on Twitter, you can RT it if you like – but that’s using up valuable characters so you can just copy the URL and get credit for it as easily. Obviously you can do that on Tumblr, but if you choose to reblog something, the source gets a nice attribution at the foot of the post, just like it should, and with no effort on your part.
Tumblr 7 – 4 Twitter
Aha – here is perhaps the rub. While the interwebs are wanking over Twitter’s biscuit every man and his dog. Whereas your friends might be on Twitter, they most assuredly aren’t on Tumblr. Then again, there aren’t as many arseholes on Tumblr. Hobson’s choice, I guess…
Tumblr 1 – 9 Twitter
Final score (out of 70): Tumblr 45 – 21 Twitter
Ultimately, despite the fact that Tumblr is objectively superior to Twitter, I see no groundswell of opinion about the matter. When did you last hear someone ask you if you were on Tumblr? Proof, if proof was needed, that in format wars it isn’t always the best format that wins.