Media Companies Try Getting Social With Tumblr

What’s the big deal with tumblr? I just started using it, but I’m just not digging it.

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com

By now, plenty of traditional media companies have hopped on the social media bandwagon, pumping out news updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

David Karp, left, the founder of Tumblr, Mark Coatney, the company’s “media evangelist,” and John Maloney, its president.

But do those companies have the time and resources to work yet another Web outlet into their daily routine?

Mark Coatney certainly hopes so. Mr. Coatney, a 43-year-old journalist, is the latest hire at Tumblr, a fast-growing blogging service based in New York that says it has 6.6 million users.

Until last month, Mr. Coatney was a senior editor at Newsweek, where as a side project he headed up the magazine’s social efforts on Twitter and Facebook. Last year he decided to add Tumblr to his repertoire.

“I saw it as an opportunity to talk to our audience in a new way,” he said. On Twitter, he said, “the main feedback comes mostly from retweeting,” or retransmitting an interesting message. On Tumblr, “the tone is a lot more conversational.”

Mr. Coatney quickly cultivated a following on Tumblr for his thought-provoking, quick-witted posts. Often they included commentary that was funny and bordering on acerbic — something he was able to get away with largely because “no one at Newsweek really knew what I was doing,” he said.

The credibility he established among Tumblr users, and the fact that Newsweek was one of the first big publishers to sign on, cemented Tumblr’s decision to hire him, company executives said.

Over the last few months, other media outlets have caught wind of Tumblr, which is free to use. The newest recruits include The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, BlackBook Media Corporation, National Public Radio, The Paris Review, The Huffington Post, Life magazine and The New York Times.

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