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Tumblr could be the latest platform to borrow from TikTok’s playbook. The company is planning a major revamp of its platform that will bring algorithmic recommendations to users’ feeds, according to published on the Tumblr Staff blog.
The memo is notably frank about the reasons for the upcoming changes and what it describes as Tumblr’s current shortcomings. “The underlying problem is that Tumblr is not easy to use,” the company writes. “Being a 15-year-old brand is tough because the brand carries the baggage of a person’s preconceived impressions of Tumblr.”
While Tumblr doesn’t provide exact details about new features, it offers some pretty big hints about what’s to come. The company says that one of its primary goals will be to “deliver great content each time the app is opened” and refers to its current “following” feed as “outdated.”
To address this, the Automattic-owned platform says it’s working to “improve our algorithmic ranking capabilities across all feeds” and “make it easier for users to understand where the vibrant communities on Tumblr are.” The company also notes that building more creator-friendly features, including improvements to the way replies and reblogs work, will also be key to attracting new users.
“Being a new creator on Tumblr can be intimidating, with a high likelihood of leaving or disappointment upon sharing creations without receiving engagement or feedback,” the company writes. “The lack of feedback stems from the outdated decision to only show content from followed blogs on the main dashboard feed (“Following”), perpetuating a cycle where popular blogs continue to gain more visibility at the expense of helping new creators.”
Taken together, the changes Tumblr is describing sound a lot like TikTok (or even Instagram): algorithmic recommendations in users’ primary feeds, creator-friendly features that encourage sharing, and more streamlined commenting and conversation tools. As a strategy, that all may sound pretty straightforward in 2023, when users increasingly expect these kinds of features from social platforms anyway. But considering Tumblr’s core interface hasn’t changed that much in its decade and a half of existence, the new direction could bring significant changes to the overall dynamics of the platform.
The coming redesign isn’t the only way Automatic has tried to breathe new life into the platform it acquired The company has also experimented with subscriptions and other paid features, introducing Post+ , though there was against the feature from longtime users. More recently, the company began selling “completely useless” to users soon after Elon Musk’s botched rollout of Twitter’s new paid verification.