More federal agencies blog on Tumblr

Several agencies followed the lead of GSA, which was the first to join the site in March

The General Services Administration was the first to tumble, and now the State Department, Peace Corps and National Archives have joined GSA on the blogging and social networking platform Tumblr.

“Yes we are on Tumblr now!” the Peace Corps blog on the site states in an undated posting. The agency joined the site in May. It recently published photographs on the blog from a Peace Corps exhibit on the National Mall.

Tumblr is a free, Web-based social network service that offers registered members an opportunity to publish a blog, share their blogs, "reblog" by posting others' blogs and follow and search other members’ blogs. It claims about 21 million users, up from 15 million users in March.

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GSA is first agency to blog on Tumblr platform

GSA negotiated terms of service and became the first federal agency on Tumblr in March, when it launched its Blog on that platform. The blog presents tips and news from a variety of federal agencies; this week it featured ideas on comparing college costs and an announcement of the White House’s Twitter Town Hall.

Since that time, State and the National Archives also have joined Tumblr.

The new agencies are taking advantage of Tumblr’s unique features as a social media platform, Mark Coatney, media evangelist for Tumblr, said in an e-mail message.

“State is probably most popular [on Tumblr], but the National Archives and Peace Corps are quickly gaining followers, in part, I think, because what they do works so well on Tumblr — both are very visual in their approach, which is key on Tumblr. Both use the platform to show off the rich history of their organizations/collections,” Coatney said.

For example, the archives uses the Tumblr blogging format to publish detailed images from their collections, including old maps, photographs and illustrations, and the Peace Corps uses photography to highlight its work around the globe, he said.

State “does a nice job of bringing their message to the Tumblr community rather than requiring Tumblr users to seek the info out on the State website,” Coatney added.

Additional federal agencies are likely to join Tumblr because of its simplicity, speed, flexibility and high impact in terms of quickly spreading a message, he said. But its reblogging and commenting format, which fosters a lot of interactivity with users, may be causing some hesitancy among federal adopters, Coatney acknowledged.

“I understand that all organizations, whether it be a government agency or a business, are still working out the proper tone and ways in which they talk to people on these new platforms,” Coatney said. “Tumblr is different from doing a conventional website, because Tumblr is conversational. ... I try to tell everyone that the key thing to remember when your organization starts a Tumblr blog is that it needs to be a good conversationalist. Don't just talk about yourself; listen and respond to what others say. My hope for all these government agency Tumblr blogs is that they become real venues for interaction between government and citizen.”

Another blogging platform, WordPress, also claims about 21 million users and is popular among some federal users. Agencies also host blogs on their own websites.

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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