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Is Substack Becoming The Next Tumblr?

  • 3 min read

I found a major difference.

When Substack announced its new features such as mentions, cross-posts, and a chat, writers started wondering about where Substack is heading.

Jake Giddens from the publication “Writers Out of Darkness” asked:

comments section Substack official announcement

Chris Best took this as a compliment.

But will Substack be the coming Tumblr?

Let’s take a closer look:

Tumblr vs. Substack

Let me give you some background information on Tumblr first:

Built as a simple blogging platform in 2007, the platform used to be buzzy, prominent, and innovative.

For its users, the beauty of Tumblr was that it offered various possible post formats such as texts, images, gifs, or videos, audio, quote, photo and chat.

The New Yorker now calls Tumblr “something like an Atlantis of social networks.”

It’s “a relic of the internet”.

Yet Gen Z is using Tumblr

In fact, nearly half of the platform’s active users and 61 per cent of its new belong to Generation Z. So it’s not dead at all.

A few weeks ago, the platform even reversed its adult content ban.

When I first heard about Substack’s new feature “cross-post”, I was also reminded of Tumblr (and Twitter with re-tweet).

So I tested Substack’s new “cross-post” feature

Substack cross posts

and Tumblr’s “reblog” feature.

tumblr announcement

Here’s the major difference I found:

Whereas on Tumblr your own feed wears the post you re-shared, on Substack the post you featured gets emailed to your subscribers but does not appear on your web archive!

Bottom Line

The new chat feature, mentions, and cross-posts seem like subtle tweaks at the first glance and (just) replicants of popular social media features such as cross-posts on Tumblr.

However, I think the changes could be quite profound.

In the creator economy, it’s often the little things (such as a tipping tool) that matter a lot and is incredibly helpful.

In my opinion, with its new features, Substack is reassuring its readers that the platform wants to encourage and support writers on their creative journey.

The company says it’s a writer-centric platform and shared in an interview with The New York Times that Substack compares itself with tech platforms like Twitch or OnlyFans.

So, it’s no surprise that Substack stated that there’s more to come in the future:

“…these are just the early days for Chat and all of Substack’s social features…”

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