By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
As a 16 year old with an unswerving appreciation for the type of rock band that makes parents insist on downward attention being paid to any adjacent volume control, my daughter wasn’t really looking forward to the Olympics.
In her (in my view commendably) cynical way, she was not enamoured by the amount of money that had been spent in its preparations, and was equally unconvinced by my arguments around legacy, and business uplift etc. However, she is a creative soul and since she had not been with me when it was on, I was eager to discover what she made of the opening ceremony.
So when I saw her shortly afterwards I asked her if she had seen the Boyle extravaganza. Rather disappointingly her answer was ‘No, not really’. I told her I thought it was great. She said she thought it was too. ‘Ah, so you did see it,’ I replied. ‘Bits,’ she said. I was a little exasperated, how could she have started watching it at any point and not felt compelled to see it through.
The conversation that followed made me feel on the one hand old and on the other rather proud.
It transpired that she had been following the proceedings on Tumblr along with her many fellow band fanatics from around the world. Every now and then she had felt compelled to actually watch the ceremony, but only in reaction to someone else mentioning in real time how ‘awesome’ a particular part of it was. In fact as she warmed up ‘awesome’ was a word she used a lot.
‘Dad it was awesome, I had mates from all over the world saying how cool Britain is, lots of them were saying they wanted to live here.’
I explained our heritage and reputation as a creative super-power.
She said ‘Yeah I know, it made me really proud to be British’. I was strangely proud too, of her, and for her. I also felt rather out of date, she had experienced the ceremony in a way that I just wouldn’t have contemplated, yet her experience was equally engaging and had elicited the same emotional responses around patriotism and belonging that I had felt.
For those of you who don’t know much about Tumblr, it is a micro-blogging and social networking site which is most popular with the teen and college-aged user segments with half of Tumblr’s visitor base being under the age of 25. As of 2009, Tumblr had an 85% retention rate compared with 40% for Twitter.
So what you say? Well the bit that is most interesting, and the bit that my daughter will hate me for bringing to your attention is that as of July 18, 2012, Tumblr has over 64.7 million blogs and more than 27.5 billion total posts.
You see my daughter thinks that Tumblr is a ‘teenie secret’, she is abhorred by the idea that it might become mainstream. She is unaware that the company was valued at $800m in 2011 and has recently revealed an advertising model. However, as a means of reaching a young demographic, and getting them excited about a product or service it rarely appears in a digital strategy in the UK, perhaps we should be considering it more seriously.
Note: While Tumblr is increasingly popular worldwide it currently derives the biggest proportion of its users from the US, which happens to be the country of origin for most of the bands my daughter follows!