Tumblr may be the latest platform to borrow from TikTok’s playbook. The company is planning a major change to its platform that will bring algorithmic recommendations to users’ feeds, as published on the Tumblr Staff blog.
The memo is very candid about the reasons for the upcoming changes and what it describes as the shortcomings of Tumblr right now. “The underlying problem is that Tumblr is not easy to use,” the company wrote. “Being a 15-year-old brand is hard because the brand carries the baggage of preconceived impressions on Tumblr.”
While Tumblr didn’t provide exact details about the new features, it did offer some big hints about what’s to come. The company says one of its main goals is to “deliver more content every time the app is opened” and refers to the current “following” feed as “outdated.”
To address this, the Automattic-owned platform says it is working to “improve our algorithmic capabilities to rank all feeds” and “make it easier for users to understand where the most passionate Tumblr community.” The company also noted that creating 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 scary, with a high probability of leaving or the frustration of sharing creations that don’t receive engagement or feedback,” the company wrote. “The lack of feedback stems from the old decision to only show content from followed blogs in the main dashboard feed (“Following”), which perpetuates a cycle where popular blogs keep getting more perspective on the cost of helping new creators.
Together, the changes describe Tumblr as TikTok (or even Instagram): algorithmic recommendations on users’ main feeds, creator-friendly features that encourage sharing, and much more streamlined commenting and conversation tools. As a strategy, all of which may sound straightforward in 2023, when users increasingly expect these types of features from social platforms anyway. But considering Tumblr’s core interface hasn’t changed much in its decade and a half of existence, the new direction could bring significant changes to the overall dynamics of the platform.
The upcoming redesign isn’t the only way Automatic is trying to breathe new life into the platform it acquired. More recently, the company began selling “absolutely useless” users shortly after Elon Musk’s botched rollout of Twitter’s new paid verification.