Socialgist Interview with Ben Marazzi of Tumblr

Jim Reynolds
By Jim Reynolds On October 06 2020 On Licensed Data, interview series, tumblr



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As you hopefully have seen, Socialgist has just announced our partnership with Tumblr and today we've sat down with Ben Marazzi, business development & strategy lead at Tumblr.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hey there, I’m Ben! I spent the early days of my career in the entertainment industry before transitioning over to managing content acquisition for Verizon’s OTT initiatives. One day I was minding my own business on the internet and accidentally fell into a vat of radioactive reblogs that transformed me into the business development guy at Tumblr. In addition to saving the universe and making Tumblr a better place, I moonlight as the personal assistant to two rescue chihuahuas (named Buzz and Baby) and play drums in a bunch of bands no one has ever heard of.

How long have you been with Tumblr?

I’ve been working at Tumblr for just under two years.

Can you give us a summary of how Tumblr is different from other social media platforms?

I feel like you’ve just asked me to summarize the meaning of life into a single sentence haha.

To start, from a purely “nuts and bolts” perspective, Tumblr is often explained as a as part micro-blogging platform and part social network, where users can post various types of content (text, images, videos, gifs, audio, embeds from other websites, etc.) to a blog. Tumblr users are able to “follow” each other and view each other's content either natively on the blogs that posted them, or in their “dashboard”. The dashboard is the user's homebase on the platform where they can see the latest posts from all the blogs they follow.

From a more philosophical perspective, Tumblr is the pulse of the internet and an igniter for what’s trending. It’s a platform for people to create, share, and talk about the things they love.  Freedom of expression, individuality and a strong sense of community are what make us unique. A colleague of mine recently said, “my favorite thing about Tumblr is just scrolling through my dashboard and seeing beautiful GIFs from a movie I love, followed by weird fan art, followed by a funny text post, followed by something that makes me choke on my water because it's so strange”. Tumblr is for everyone, no matter how broad or niche your interests may be. We are a vibrant, global community of creators, fandoms and seekers who are empowered to create and converse at the epicenter of digital culture. We’re home to the most thriving, interesting and open online community on the internet, where anyone has the freedom to explore without judgement.

TLDR: Tumblr is the pulse of the internet and an igniter for what’s trending. Our users are authentic, vocal, and super creative. Whether you’re here to create something cool, connect with a community, start the next movement or just fall down a Tumblr rabbit hole, we’re here for it.

What terminology is unique to Tumblr?

REBLOG - Unlike other platforms, the concept of “reposting” something to your own Tumblr blog is a native action. When you view a post on Tumblr you’ll see a “reblog” button right alongside the “like” button. Give it a push and you’ll automatically share that piece of content to your own Tumblr blog for your followers to see.

Blr - Blr is a suffix that Tumblr users add on to a topic to signal that it is part of a community dedicated to that interest on Tumblr. For example...Fitblr (health enthusiasts on Tumblr), Studyblr (studying habits and techniques on Tumblr), Mineblr (Minecraft on Tumblr), Frogblr (they love frogs on Tumblr)...the list goes on and on. You can even check out our “Top Communities” of 2019 HERE

FUCK YEAH - “fuckyeah” is a prefix you’ll often times see at the beginning of a Tumblr URL. This is a way of signifying that that particular blog is purely dedicated to that topic and is seen as a complete celebration of JUST that subject. A former Tumblr employee described it as “a way to create a kind of digital shrine to something you’re super pumped about.” They can range from a particular entertainment based fandom (, ), to aesthetic bliss (, to general weirdness ( ...a particular favorite of the staff here)

SHIPPING/SHIP - Ok, so we didn't invent the concept of shipping; however , it’s MASSIVE on Tumblr so I felt it would be helpful to mention it here. Shipping (or in verb form to “ship” someone) refers to a particular fandom wanting to see two characters together in a relationSHIP (see how that works?). Oftentimes, this ship gets so big it becomes its own sect of a fandom. For example a “Reylo” is someone who wanted to see Kylo Ren and Rey from Star Wars come together as a couple (as you can imagine, we had a lot of excited users after the last film came out). We even publish our most popular “ships” as part of our weekly Fandometrics blog. Check them out HERE (along with their given ship names).

Nearly 50% of Tumblr's audience is under the age of 34 (Millennial, Gen Y & Millennials). Why is that?

So, for full disclosure, I’m currently 35 which technically puts me just out of the age bracket you described in your question, but I’ll speak in the first-person anyway haha. From a big picture perspective, part of being “human” to me is connecting with others and bonding over shared interests and experiences. Frankly, Tumblr is the perfect place for that. Most people my age (or younger) have grown up with the internet and computers as an aspect of our daily lives, so it makes sense that we not only find moments in our “real world” life to connect with others, but also online. Tumblr is a platform where I can share pieces of myself and find others to share that experience with.

What trends have recently started on Tumblr?

When people ask “What's on Tumblr” I always joke that we have “everything that's going to be on every other platform in two years”. I think the most recent trend I’ve noticed “go big” is Cottagecore. Cottagecore (which is a nostalgic aesthetic movement associated with a return to simplicity) has always been a community on Tumblr, but recently we’ve seen it explode across the internet. I mean, now there’s New York Times articles about it, but a few months ago it was just another bright spot on Tumblr.

I think in a similar vein it's been interesting to see how Tumblr users process the world differently than other platform’s user bases do. As a direct result of 2020, I’ve noticed a lot of the internet has seen a big resurgence in DIY culture and things like bread-making etc, but we’ve noticed Tumblr users really turning inward lately and focusing on self-care. We’ve noticed the “cozy” feel-good aesthetic has gotten huge over the last few months. I think there's a need to feel safe right now and we’ve really noticed Tumblr users carving out a little space for “me time” on the platform. I think there's so much going on outside and our users just really want to sit on their couch with a warm coffee and scroll through pictures of cute animals or GIFs from TV shows they loved as a kid. I think my “hot tip” for this conversation would be to keep an eye on Millennial/Gen Y “comfort food”. Positive but nostalgic “retro” things that they (we/I) remember from childhood and can find comfort and “coziness” in.

What's unique about Tumblr in terms of data analysis and trend detection?

I was reading something recently that the lifespan of a piece of content on other social media platforms is between 24 minutes and a day, and that's INCLUDING reposts. What’s interesting about Tumblr’s reblog behaviour and our users is that content lives on indefinitely and frequently sees resurgences based on what's happening in the world. Meaning trends don't just happen as a quick flash in the pan, they ebb and flow over time. A piece of content related to a beloved IP may see an initial spike due to its relative fandom when its posted, but it may then also see repeated spikes separated out over even longer periods of time depending on changes and events in the outside world (ie: a great post about “Reylo” created in 2015 during the release of The Force Awakens may see a resurgence in reblogs and traction on the platform again in 2019 when the film finale occurs).

The conversation on Tumblr doesn't happen and then “disappear” in 24 hours. It organically develops and grows day by day, telling a richer and richer story about the things people care about.

What types of communities exist on Tumblr?

Honestly, I truly feel Tumblr has a community for everyone. Our users are passionate about a myriad of interests and it shows.

Art - Art is probably one of the biggest communities on Tumblr. We have a large population of creators on platform that use Tumblr as the principal place to share their original work. Check out this page for artists on Tumblr, it’s awesome.

Media Entertainment - On the media/entertainment side we see clusters of communities focused on Film, TV, and Comic Books. Things like Marvel, DC, anime, and Disney consistently track really well on the platform. In the music space, Taylor Swift and Frank Ocean are both big users of Tumblr. K-pop is so huge on Tumblr we ended up building out our own editorial blog based around the subject. We also have a large community of up and coming music artists on Tumblr, as well. In addition to the “big” media categories, I also think we have a lot of traction around more niche mediums like podcasts.

Gaming - Our gaming segment is massive, in fact 2/3 of Tumblr users are gamers. In addition to a lot of discussion around the “big” players in the space, we also have a large community of indie developers and indie games that use Tumblr as their main communication tool and developer blog to update their fans.

Books/Writing - In a similar lane as visual artists, Tumblr is also home to a lot of writers. We have a large community of authors and fan fiction writers who use Tumblr as the principal place to share their original work. You can find a lot of them here.

Social Impact - Tumblr users are passionate about making their voices heard. We host a large community of users who are actively using the platform to promote social change, along with a number of nonprofits.

What regions of the world is Tumblr most used?

Tumblr is currently the biggest in the US, followed by Brazil, the UK, Canada, Germany, and Mexico respectively.

Can you share some notable brands that actively use Tumblr?

Apple, Netflix, Conde Nast (Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, etc.) General Mills (Gushers, Fruit by the Foot, etc.), Nickelodeon, Universal Pictures, NBC, NPR, Burberry, Tom Ford.

Do you have a Tumblr page?

I currently have two Tumblr pages. One is an aesthetic blog where i repost cool 1950s and 60s kitsch stuff, you can check it out HERE. And I just started a separate blog for my dog, you can see that HERE

Can you tell us your favorite pages you follow?

Oh man, another tough one. Ok, so off the top of my head I would say we have some really great Tumblr-run editorial blogs on the platform. Gaming is my favorite, but there's also music, fashion, etc. I think all of our editorial blogs are great starting points to find more blogs you’d be interested in,

depending on the subject.

Beyond our editorial blogs, Clarice Tudor is probably one of my favorite cartoonists on the platform. Animated text is a Tumblr classic and a MUST FOLLOW. Shifty Thrifting is a “user submission” blog of weird stuff people find in thrift stores (it’s great). GIFmovie and Void Design are awesome gif blogs. And you have to follow Taylor Swift, of course.

Ben, we truly appreciate your time and the education you've provided us. Tumblr is a truly impressive community and we can't to see what the social data ecosystem can do with this data. - Jim



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