How to use Tumblr

Tumblr is a blogging platform but it isn’t WordPress. If that feels like a distinction so minor that it’s not worth making, I do think the differences between the two platforms, however small, do matter.

Tumblr tends to be more visual, more instant; less of the analysis, more of the bite-sized. Of course all these rules are there to be broken but those truths about the platform most likely explain why lots of people (and by people I mean newspapers, magazines, broadcasters etc) are struggling to work out how to use it.

As a counterpoint, here are four traditional media outlets that are using it well:

  1. Financial Times
  2. The Economist
  3. The Times
  4. New Statesman

In my Press Gazette column this week I explain why they have mastered Tumblr.

“There is a craft to making magazines that cannot be replicated online”

A thoughtful piece in the Guardian yesterday by my former boss Jason Cowley to mark the centenary of the New Statesman.

In it Cowley, editor since 2008, touches on the marriage (and separation) of print and online and draws the following conclusion:

There is a craft to making magazines that cannot be replicated online: the joy of an arch headline that would fail all the utilitarian demands of search engine optimisation; the creative use of pictures and cartoons; the juxtaposition of viewpoints.

Little links the New Statesman with the Daily Mail, but they have one thing in common: our print and online offerings have separate identities, each adapted for the form. Our website can be fast, funny, irreverent; our magazine can be reflective, considered and deliberative. And both are thriving.

You can read the full piece here.

Weekends are the new weekdays: how mobile is changing user habits

There was a really smart piece of analysis by Jasper Jackson over on The Media Briefing yesterday where he looked at the impact of mobile device usage and how it affects “when consumers access your content”.

His findings, based on data from the FT and the Guardian, mirror the experience of the New Statesman and the Press Gazette – specifically how heavy usage of smartphones and tablets at weekends is filling the deep Saturday and Sunday troughs previously typical of news-based websites.

The FT graph also shows clearly the pre- and post-work ‘check-in’ via mobile devices during weekdays.

FT weekly consumption where blue is desktop and orange is mobile

Jackson notes:

A key point here is that the bulk of this traffic is additive – the FT is seeing high levels of traffic to its website during times when there was previously very little, simply because people now have a way of accessing it.

Again that mirrors my own experience.

So what lessons can digital publishers draw from this data? For one answer Jackson quotes Tom Betts, FT’s head of data:

We are starting to see a number of changes to the way editorial teams publish. Obviously having someone working nine-to-five on mobile publishing doesn’t work.

And if you don’t have a weekend operation, perhaps now is the time to start. More over at The Media Briefing.