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Why We Recommended Tumblr for the New USA.gov Blog

Early last month, USA.gov quietly launched the new USA.gov blog on Tumblr. The launch was the result of six months of hard work by the USA.gov team transitioning their previous blog (called GovGab) into a refreshed USA.gov-branded blog. We’re proud to have worked on this project for two key reasons:

  1. USA.gov is the first federal program to use Tumblr.
  2. The USA.gov blog is awesome.

We’ve been aware of Tumblr for a while, but didn’t start recommending it to our clients until Lee noticed it growing extremely quickly toward the end of 2010. We follow a few criteria when recommending social media outlets to our clients, and these are the big two:

  1. Large and growing user base — We never recommend wasting real resources on a social platform that no one uses or that everyone is fleeing.
  2. An interface that encourages sharing and interaction — For a social media outlet to be worth our time, it has to make it easy for our clients’ content to be shared and ricochet around the Internet. This is what clearly distinguished Facebook from MySpace back when they were competitors. Facebook was constantly upgrading its interface to promote more sharing, more commenting, and more liking.

Tumblr’s “liking” and “reblogging” features have fulfilled our second requirement for a while, and, as of late last year, it handily met our first requirement.

Once we decided Tumblr was worth a serious look, we started thinking about how our clients at USA.gov could use it. Coincidentally, they were looking for a new blog platform and Tumblr turned out to be a perfect fit: it’s free, it’s easy to customize, and it came with a built-in audience.

We introduced Tumblr’s Mark Coatney to the right people at GSA and they negotiated a government friendly Terms of Service. Apps.gov made it dead simple to get set up with Disqus, Google Analytics, and Feedburner.

In the meantime, we worked with the GovGab team to shift their talents to the new platform. We also worked with USA.gov’s design team to create a theme that matches USA.gov’s look and feel.

Concept-to-launch took a little over six months. That might sound like a long time, but trust me, it isn’t. The USA.gov team is exceptionally agile, and the work to negotiate government-friendly Terms of Service has opened Tumblr up to the rest of the government.

Federal Computer Week wrote about the new USA.gov blog on Monday, and the State Department started a Tumblr blog later that day. If you’re interested in getting started on Tumblr for your own federal program, get started at Apps.gov and let us know if you have any questions.

We’re having fun making the most of Tumblr for USA.gov, and will blog about our insights on it in the near future. Until then, if you’re on Tumblr, follow USA.gov!

Originally posted on the Measured Voice blog.

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