GSA starts first federal blog on Tumblr platform

General Services Administration debuts USA.gov Blog on social blogging site

The federal government is now on Tumblr, with the General Services Administration launching its USA.gov Blog on the popular blogging and social networking platform.

"GSA negotiated the Tumblr terms of service, and we are the first federal agency using Tumblr," said GSA spokesman Robert Lesino.

Tumblr is a free, Web-based social network service that offers registered members an opportunity to blog, share their blogs, "re-blog" by posting others' blogs and to follow and search other members’ blogs. It claimed 15 million users as of March.


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"We chose Tumblr because it is a rapidly growing platform,” said Jessica Milcetich, USA.gov Blog manager. "It not only is for blogging, but it offers social features so people can share, comment and connect."

Since its launch on Tumblr on March 1, the USA.gov Blog currently has about 300 followers. The new blog is the reconstituted version of the GSA’s former GovGab blog, which was renamed, folded under the USA.gov umbrella and moved to Tumblr. The new USA.gov Blog also contains the archives for GovGab, which started in 2007.

The GovGab blog was one of the first federal blogs and was created to disseminate helpful government information in the new social formats. Now "rebranded" as the USA.gov Blog, it carried consumer-directed information articles on a broad range of topics, including comparing school broadband connections, NASA’s songwriting contest for the space shuttle mission, and tips for shopping at local farmers markets.

"We decided to refine and take the best of GovGab and rebrand it under the USA.gov brand," Milcetich said. "We wanted to make it easier to find by using a recognizable brand."

Although most blogs on the Tumblr platform have "Tumblr" in their Web address, the USA.gov Blog has a customized URL without that term that is fully integrated into Tumblr's platform, Milcetich said.

The Tumblr platform also allows the agency to highlight information that is in the news and in demand by the public.

"Our content on the tsunami and Japan was extremely popular," Milcetich said. "The new platform is great for us."

Public comments are accepted on the USA.gov Blog, and a few comments have been received in recent weeks. For example, a school broadband posting received two comments, NASA’s songwriting contest got one comment, and the farmers market tips yielded no comments.

"We would love for people to comment, but it is not the main focus," Milcetich said.

Tumblr competes against the WordPress and Posterous blogging services. Tumblr claims to have superior graphics and publishing features, along with mobile applications, e-mail, privacy controls, automatic broadcasting, customized domain names and other features.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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