Recently, we spotted an article on Mashable that reports that “’Tumblr’ has surpassed ‘blog’ as one of the most searched terms on Google.” The article also makes some bold predictions about WordPress’ supposed dwindling “days of dominance” due to Tumblr’s growth. Being the WordPress proponents that we are, Skyhook’s creative director, John Gough, decided to weigh in on the article’s claims.
First of all, congratulations to Tumblr on such a huge achievement. It definitely deserves a place near the top of the content-generating pyramid.
As the article’s author, Fernando Alfonso III, points out in his post, traditional blogging is not as easy as posting a status, a joke or a picture. Tumblr hits a sweet spot that allows a person to aggregate this micro content in a context where that amount of content is all that is expected. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, it’s not interrupted in a feed with other people’s content. Tumblr users repost and like content across the network, and their commentary is present, but secondary. The blog owner’s content is what counts.
Tumblr vs. WordPress?
At the end of his article (a traditional blog post), Alfonso compares Tumblr and WordPress as blogging platforms and sets the two as rivals competing for supremacy in the blog-hosting corner of the Internet. He says:
Thanks to streamlined blogging networks like WordPress, which powers about 22% of websites in the U.S., the traditional blogging model is certainly not going anywhere fast. But with Tumblr powering 87 million blogs, and growing, WordPress’ days of dominance may be numbered.
While this statement appears reasonable at first blush, there’s an important nuance that is lost here: the assumption that WordPress is used in every instance as a blogging platform.
It’s not a wrong-headed idea, really. WordPress began as a blogging platform. It’s a really user-friendly, easy-to-use one. At Skyhook, we set up a blog on WordPress just about weekly. But, the same source as the previous statistic says that WordPress is powering 22% of websites in the U.S. and 14.7% of the top million websites in the world.
WordPress has evolved into a full-fledged content management system. It is more than a blogging platform, which is how it can power hundreds of thousands of the top websites around the world. Add to that the fact that it’s open-source and can be used to build applications (i.e. e-commerce solutions), and without question WordPress is infinitely more versatile than Tumblr.
Bottom line: Tumblr and WordPress are completely different tools for different purposes — both wildly successful, and both major players in the world of online content. The reason we use WordPress, and the reason we are confident in its relevance for a long time to come, is that it powers so much more than just blogs. Even if traditional blogging declines or disappears (or even if Tumblr declines or disappears) in the future, WordPress will still be kicking. And we’ll be kicking with it.