Social Blogging

I came across this highly reblogged quote about tumblr last night:

think it needs a new classification. “Blog” is misleading and doesn’t
describe the experience of using it. Maybe something like “sharing
community” or “facebook but with stuff.”

It stuck in my brain and woke me up at 4:30 in the morning. Because I’ve been thinking the same thing. Yesterday I drew this chart on our whiteboard in the USV conference room for Bijan and Albert.


Blogging and Social Networking are different. Blogging is a new form of publishing and increasingly it means serious publishing. If you look at the top blogs on techmeme, most are not  personal blogs, they are for profit money making entities.

Social networking, as defined by Facebook and myspace, is largely person to person communications without much blogging going on. Both services offer blogging capabilities but they are not used that often as far as I can tell. Leaving comments, writing on a wall, poking, posting and tagging photos, and that kind of person to person communications is the staple of the big social nets.

There’s an emerging category in the middle that takes from both blogging and social networking and we at Union Square Ventures are heavily invested in it with our investments in Twitter and Tumblr. I’ll call it social blogging but I’d sure love a better name for it. Some call it microblogging. Tumblr users call it tumblogging. I am not sure either name is ideal.  If you have a better name idea, please leave it in the comments.

The essence of social blogging systems are;

  • lightweight – you can post in less than a minute
  • social – you follow people via some form of dashboard which is like the news feed in FB
  • interactivity – you reblog, favorite, or reply to the post

I am sure there are a lot of people reading this who think "how is this different than blogging?" I’d like to suggest that everyone try this

  1. go to tumblr
  2. enter your email address, a password, and a URL at tumblr (don’t worry about that too much)
  3. click on the icon in the upper right with the head/shoulders and a plus sign
  4. add the following URLs:
  1. then click on "dashboard" on the top of the page (i know this should be #5)

If you do these five steps, the whole thing should take less than a couple minutes, you’ll get to see what a tumblr dashboard experience is like. I realize it should be easier than that and I am sure that it will be soon. You don’t have to be a blogger to see how awesome tumblr is. And as you read through the dashboard, look for the reblog icon. It looks like this


Click on that when you see a post you like and slowly but surely you can create a tumblog of your very own without ever posting anything directly to tumblr.  That’s why Ricky called it a "sharing community".

Of course, over time, I bet you’ll start wanting to post stuff there. It’s just so easy and so fun.

Twitter and Vox are similarly social. Twitter’s a bit different because the posts are kept to 140 characters or less and it’s not a visual experience like Tumblr. I use Twitter to share stuff I am doing with everyone and Tumblr to share stuff I am seeing and hearing with everyone. I pull all my twitters into tumblr and I’ve seen a few of them get reblogged which is pretty cool.

Right now, this social blogging category is nascent. Here is an alexa chart on the category:


According to Comscore, about 6mm unique visitors worldwide come to Twitter, Vox, and Tumblr combined. That’s nothing near the14mm worldwide uniques who come to or the 8mm worldwide uniques that come to

Nor is it anywhere near the  40mm worldwide uniques that come to Facebook or the 70mm  worldwide uniques who come to myspace.

But my gut tells me that combining the personal expression elements of blogging with the emotional aspects of social networking in a lightweight manner that allows anyone to be a blogger with ease and not much commitment (think iphone walking down the street and seeing something cool), will yield a very large market of people who both consume and contribute content in these social blogging systems.

That’s the bet and we’ve made it twice now. And I am feeling pretty good about it.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Rayan

    I have heard about Twitter but don’t have account in it. Imagine accessing Twitter through mobile. I don’t know any vendor giving this service. I am a MoDazzle user, I access SN sites through mobile but even it doesn’t support Twitter. May be Micro blogging has not yet reached mobile.Rayan…

    1. fredwilson

      You can access twitter on your mobile at m.twitter.comfred

  2. Carl Rahn Griffith

    interesting, fred – i can see why it interrupted your night’s slumbers; is happenig to me a lot, lately, lol – i (we/are) am in the midst of rationalising such issues/opportunities … seems at the moment that the social-network scene is very polarised: ie, the extreme of the relatively low-noise/almost static environment of facebook and the interesting (and potentially high-added-value) open architecture opportunities it presents – contrasted with the relatively noisy and low-added-value myspace environment … then we have the real-time, and transient – yet often meaningful – new delivery channels such as twitter.turning personal > shared cathartic musings into platforms for learning, developing ideas and making meaningful connections is what it’s all about, to me at least …

  3. greenskeptic

    Will try tumblr, but I’m already mad at you for getting me addicted to twittering!Ryan – works great for mobile microblogging, i use it all the time.

  4. kid mercury

    great post. i been using the term macroblogging, because i think it is about turning the blog into a community of some type. microblogging seems to emphasize the ease of use, i think it is more important to emphasize the value of the community.

    1. fredwilson

      i like that term, good suggestion

  5. kskobac

    Fred – Why do you still use Alexa graphs in posts? Since you presumably have access to Comscore, this seems unnecessary. It seems that even with the heavy criticism Alexa receives from the blog/research world, they still get utilized often, even though to me Compete and Quantcast have stronger, more reliable offerings. Do you have opinions on those sites as free methods of research?

    1. fredwilson

      alexa is “real time” and i wanted to include recent activity, particularly for tumblr since it relaunched recently

  6. Jonathan Greene

    I call it lifestreaming and think you’ve missed a competitor of great comparison in Jaiku. Though the added advantage of Jaiku is mobile. I’ve got feeds from all my digital life’s sources going straight to Jaiku as the happen and see those shared by my contacts. Any item can be commented on and then there’s a thread for discussion. While contacts can choose not to see all of you stuff (or filter just those they want) they see all your comments which enables you to track a lot of conversation – yet in a highly organized way.

    1. fredwilson

      if you look at this chart, pownce and jaiku seem to be losing steam…that’s why i left them both outfred

      1. bobbydassler

        I wouldn’t count out Jaiku as Google thought it wise to acquire them, why? I think for precisely the reasons you mention, hyperconnected lifestreaming feeds! bobbyd

  7. Jarid

    web + log = blogsocial + blogging = slogging(just kidding)

    1. fredwilson

      c’mon Jarid. you’ve been very very good to me on the naming thing in the past.slogging isn’t going to cut it!fred

  8. marcus

    37% of all blogs are Japanese, compared to a mere 28% written in English. And forty percent of Japanese blogging is done from mobile phones.From a recent Washington Post article, “Bloggers here [Japan] shy away from politics and barbed language. They rarely trumpet their expertise. While Americans blog to stand out, the Japanese do it to fit in, blogging about small stuff: cats and flowers, bicycles and breakfast, gadgets and TV stars. Compared with Americans, they write at less length, they write anonymously, and they write a whole lot more often.”

  9. Michael Broukhim

    This (social blogging) is exactly what we’re trying to achieve at We’ve been calling it a ‘conversation community’…I think that makes sense for Tumblr (which I’m a big fan of) and Twitter as well. Our product is very early stage and even still, a little buggy. We rushed it out the door in under two months to tap into the excitement of the election, but we plan to significantly build out the feature set, and the types of conversations, in the coming weeks.

  10. Nate Westheimer

    Social Knitting: The process by which people develop content and meaning together in a semi-structured fashion.Twitter and Tumblr and Social Knitting applications. Vox is not, however. It’s social, but there’s no structure that develops out of people’s coming together. Vox is simply “Social Networking” + “Blogging” while Twitter, Tumblr (and my very own BricaBox) are “Social” x “Creation” = “More Meaning,”or “Social Knitting.”

  11. Abhishek

    Fred,You should add “Comments” in that picture too. Remember your post about having a page of all your comments.I think that falls between serious blogging and social blogging. You can call it “Opinion Blogging”.The nameSocial Blogging doesnt work for me either. I recommend “Life Blogging” or “Life Stream”.

  12. RobDolin

    Interesting post. I’m curious how you think status messages in Facebook, Messenger, etc. and other mostly mobile blogging platforms like DodgeBall or Jaiku fit into your model

    1. fredwilson

      Status messaging is a form of social blogging. Twittering and facebook status are very similar.But a twitter feed is all status messaging and you can reply and have a public chatThe way status messaging is done in facebook makes it less like blogging and more like an away message in instant messagingOf course facebook can and certainly will address this over time. You can use twitter to update facebook status which is what I do all the timeFredFred

  13. whitneymcn

    Fred (or anyone else who has an answer, for that matter), have you thought about adding your disqus comments feed to tumblr?In your case (Fred) it’s pretty heavily weighted to comments on AVC, but the main thing that I find interesting about services like Disqus and Intense Debate is that they automatically collect one’s comments from here and there around the Web for a more complete picture of both an individual’s input and their output.Importing that comment feed as Tumblr links could be interesting…they’re links to the stuff that the Tumblr-er finds interesting, as well as snippets of commentary on the link, and best of all it’s totally low-friction from the user’s perspective: just point Tumblr at the feed and the rest happens automagically.I just started playing with Tumblr a couple of days ago, but what’s most interesting to me about it right now is that “low friction” character: my tweets, my links, and (when I find time to buy a new phone and get off the T68 backup) my random pictures all just flow in to Tumblr, merging into an interesting little lifestream. I just started following the list that you dropped, so we’ll see how the social end grabs me…- Whit

    1. fredwilson

      Yes I have but I think it would overwhelm my tumblog. My twitter feed threatens to do that alreadyI would love it if people actively scored/favorited both and we had an automatic way to post the most popular twitter and comment of the dayFred

      1. whitneymcn

        I was thinking that it’d be a relatively simple matter to strip out comments associated with your own blog, but a quick look at the disqus comments feed makes me think that’s not the case right now (I don’t immediately see any elements in the feed that tie comment back to source site).I’ll send to disqus as well (assuming they’re not following your comments), but what about adding something like a Dublin Core “relation” element to each item in the comment feed, to identify the blog/site associated with the comment? That would make the community involvement of your ranking idea an interesting supplement, rather than a requirement , and add some pretty interesting metadata to boot. Basically, I guess that I’m intrigued by the idea of frictionless comment tracking, even though it scares me a bit. (And apologies to Dave Winer for suggesting fucking with RSS even further.)- W

  14. jason oliver

    SOCIAL PUBCASTING!!social publishing/broadcastingmicro/tum-blogging is increasingly content type agnostic. it’s pushing content out to anyone who is interested in consuming it. the idea that everyone has a voice, and that everyone can use that voice to be heard at any given moment in time.

  15. Andy C

    I call it Tumbling. I call mine ‘Tumble Drier’ precisely because it is just a load of ideas and thoughts circulating. Around and around.I think of it as ‘disposable blogging’. I don’t care Tumblr can’t import my WP blog. I don’t care it might not get backed up. I don’t even care it hasn’t got comments. I just love the idea of capturing my ‘stream of consciousness’

    1. Tyler Willis

      Andy,I totally agree with you on the stream of consciousness utility. I think my favorite about these new tools (twitter, tumblr, and I’ll also include seesmic as well) are that while it publishes information it’s not optimized as a publishing tool.I contend that if you use Tumblr the way it’s meant to be used (to steal a term from Ben Casnocha) for quick thoughts about what’s on your mind right now, you will never interest an “audience.” You will only interest real friends (people who care about most of your thoughts, not just thoughts in one area).If I didn’t want to see random photos, songs, tweets, etc. from Fred, I wouldn’t follow him. I happen to enjoy most of his thoughts so I follow, whereas some other bloggers that I read religiously couldn’t get me to listen to anything they said that wasn’t about their core topic./ramble-Tyler

      1. Tyler Willis

        Whoops, the term from Ben that I forgot to steal was “Cheap shots, quick thoughts, bon mots”

  16. Lloyd Fassett

    I’m not clear on what, or if there is a problem being solved in the middle ground….it feels like a self made RSS aggregator to me and what problem would that solve? To what end is the effect supposed to be?

    1. fredwilson

      Try the five steps and see for yourself. It might not make a difference to you or it mightFred

  17. kevin

    a tumblog is to a blog what deep cuts are to hits

  18. mtrozzo

    This is what I have waited for to get into the blog scene, the lightweight version of the blog. are you saying it exists somewhere? please advise!!

    1. fredwilson for for your daily activitesOr bothFred

  19. rbmgl

    ok, i’ve put 58 seconds of thought into this and this is what i came up with. i hope i win a prize or something. SOCIALOGING. it’s a bit like socializing, which is what we’re doing here, albeit, in a digital way. we can also draw a reference to cataloging, which by definition is to list or display. so you put them together and you get a pretty good definition and likely a new buzzword. just promise you’ll thank me in coming up with a better name then Social Blogging if you use it..haha.i enjoy your blog and since i’ve gotten endless free insight, i thought i’d give back in the web 2.0 spirit of it all. and i guess the holidays to…..

    1. fredwilson

      SocialoggingI like itIts at the top of the list right nowFred

      1. ryan

        glad you like it. hope it sticks.r

    2. Tyler Willis

      It really fits for Tumblr. Nice!

  20. Bob

    There might be something to Tumblr. I checked it out today and found it easy to just blog about stuff in general. I did find a small usability issue with the photos action. I tried to point it to a URL that contains a pic but not just a pic and it barfed. Also, I think someone else mentioned this already but it would be nice to have comments. It would also be nice to know the traffic stats for my blog but I don’t think that feature is available.

    1. Joe Lazarus

      Bob, you can add comments from Disqus and analytics from Google Analytics or Sitemeter. It takes just a few minutes for each. Personally, I’d rather Tumblr focus on what they do best and let third party experts handle things like comments and analytics.

  21. Luke Razzell

    Fred,We are thinking of adding to Blog Friends the ability to send comments on your favourite blog posts (plus short urls) to your Twitter account. Would this be a useful workflow integration feature for you?

    1. fredwilson

      If I can control itFred

  22. leigh

    mindmashingideastreaming or maybe something with the idea of thought bubbles in it:)

    1. simon

      tumblr rocks .. an so does this blog .. i swear every single time i load this site i learn somethen ..go fred

      1. fredwilson

        Wow. Thanks. That’s so great to hear.fred

  23. Chris

    Tumblr does rock. My hopes are Tumblr will be the one place someone can go to see what I am up to VS. having to join every social network I belong to. Good for family that barely know how to get on the internet.

  24. Colin

    FredSocialogging is good but in the realm of macroblogging and Twitter maybe Chirping is more apt. Birds do this when they are searching, communicating and validating

  25. johndodds

    I think you need a name that is shorter than those suggested and comes to define the whole category – the essence of twitter and the others includes things like simplicity, speed and informality. Somebody may use these to come up with the answer but my immdiate thought was breezing – which is simple has connotations of lightness of touch and effort and obviously shooting the breeze. That should get me some equity right?

    1. fredwilson

      Shooting the breeze is one of my favorite phrasesNiceFred

  26. andreaitis

    social publishing

  27. Jeff Jarvis

    Fred,I think it’s a misnomer to group Facebook and Myspce — even though everyone does. Myspace is a blogging with a little bit of social added as a cherry on top. Facebook is an organizational tool that includes, as a fringe benefit, a touch of light social blogging.

    1. fredwilson

      JeffYou are right, of course, that FB and MS are very different animals.But neither of them are optimized for blogging, at least as far as I cantell.Fred

  28. MParekh

    Good post Fred. I’ve found it difficult to explain the advantages of Twitter and Tumblr to mainstream folks, but notice that people do take to it once they’ve been walked through them. One thing that’d be really useful as a long-time Twitter and Tumblr user is the ability to automatically find the Twitter and Tumblr addresses of my contact list (say on Google, Outlook, etc., ) AND to do the same off my blogroll on my blog. Then of course auto-populating them on my Tumblr dashboard would be the icing on the cake.Thanks.

    1. fredwilson

      Good suggestions michael. I’ll make sure both companies see themFred

  29. Ocirasa

    Yesterday I drew this chart on our whiteboard

  30. gregory

    twit-chat, is what i call it, comes from chit-chat

  31. derek

    Its lifestreaming, esp when you pull in RSS feeds from your other presences (FB, blog, RTM). When we bring this into the enterprise it will be rolestreaming, again with RSS from wiki changes., calendars, project status changes, office announcements, voice messages.Again, its more than that. The face that you can IM, SMS, email and leave a voice message as a tweet means its convergence made real.

  32. leigh

    Saw a fellow tumblr who described it as “digital scraplogging” …..

  33. Linda Margaret

    Facebook I think is simply a portal by which to constantly expand interests and get to know people with similar interests. Blogs and all are where you research, sort of personally selected public databases of trusted individuals with similar interests. I like the post, and I think you have a strong point, but also I think that one could look at the white board as a sort of theoretical map of one’s social relations online. Or is that what it was supposed to be?

  34. pablo

    Prehistoric Web Log = BlogI’ve thinking about virtualization twitter is a virtualization of dialogue.Dialogue Talk Log = Slog

  35. MySpace vs Orkut

    We can judge the popularity of these sites by seeing their ranking in… Alexa. Orkut has been steadily rising on the Alexa charts but MySpace is still significantly bigger than

  36. annehubert

    Where would user-gen fit onto this map? (thinking of YouTube, yes, but more so niche sites like 5min (how-to), ExpoTV (product reviews) – other examples?)Socialogging, certainly blogging, and maybe social networks (as enabling feature of the architecture) seem to be letting people become content producers – publishing tidbits about their days (is this/will this be news?), linking to existing books/movies/music that they like, whatever it is, putting out their own stuff: text/audio/video content.Seems related to your map, in ways I’m still chewing on. Would be curious to know your thoughts about how.

  37. jer979

    I think the next evolution of Tumblr would be something along the lines of Plaxo Pulse.I have a personal blog ( and a blog that is more focused on my professional life. While I post all from my professional life on my personal blog, the same isn’t true in reverse obviously.What I like about Plaxo Pulse is that I can decide I want Fred Wilson to have access to my Tweets, status updates, links, and work blog posts, but you don’t care necessarily that my grandmother died or my infant got up at 3am.I love Tumblr, but think that instead of a 2nd profile, it’d be cool to set up different “channels” and promote them accordingly to the appropriate audience.thoughts?

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  39. Shawn

    Fred,I’m wondering what you think about a development of both social networking and blogging in a slightly different direction. When I use social networks or even search for blogs I’m sometimes frustrated that a means doesn’t exist to categorize bloging and social network profiles by their topic. In other words find all the business blogs, arts & entertainment blogs, science & health blogs etc. out there and put them in some kind of reasonable social network so that I good look at what I’m interested in a find the people who share my passions. In other words, I don’t want to use social media to talk to people I already know but to find and communicate with those I don’t on topics of interest that we share. Anyway, that’s the goal of a new network I’m bootstrapping. Whether or how it can generate revenue remains to be seen, however.

    1. fredwilson

      Its starting to happen – techmeme, memeorandum, newsjunk, etcThese are in effect vertical blog aggregation networks

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    Hi I really thankful to you because you are simply great I am very happy to post my comment in this blog. I gathered lot of information from this site. Nice blog.blogging for a living

  41. fredwilson

    i think reading feeds is not mainstream and never will be. it’s great for the power users.but i want to find things that my wife will do, that my kids will do, that my non-geek friends will doi think the dashboard model works well for themfred

  42. bijan

    RSS feeds don’t show you how your friends posts play out in an integrated timeline. And you can’t reblog or see who else reblogged them.

  43. fredwilson

    Good point BijanThat’s why I suggested everyone go play with tumblr and see what I meanUsing stuff is so much better than reading about itfred

  44. Edwin Khodabakchian

    “i think reading feeds is not mainstream and never will be. it’s great for the power users.” I would love to try prove you wrong on that. :-)Regarding friends post and rebloging, google reader already include the ability to share article you like and for other people to subscribe to those recommendation feeds. The great advantage of RSS clients is that they operate in an open environment.I love your blog!

  45. Rick Burnes

    What you guys are saying makes sense to me for the social blogging end of Tumblr, but not the Dashboard end.Tumblr will make it a lot easier for my mainstream friends to express themselves online, but I think they’ll be confused by Tumblr’s approach to consuming content. What happens when they want to subscribe to articles from their local newspaper? Or the flickr photos from a local theater?They may not use Google Reader, but to paraphrase something you said a while back, the web is their world. They’re going to feel constrained on a site that only gives them content from a handful of friends. For now, I think they’ll find it easier to subscribe to their friends’ tumblelogs on iGoogle or MyYahoo. The feeds won’t be as robust or beautiful, but they will be able to get everything they want on a single dashboard.