Microblogging Social Networks

A List of the 5 Most Popular Microblogging Social Networks: Jaiku, Plurk, Present.ly, Tumblr, and Twitter.

This list of microblogging social networks is listed alphabetically and includes their availability, rank, popularity, and features.


Jaiku is a social networking, microblogging and lifestreaming service comparable to Twitter. Jaiku was founded in February, 2006 by Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen from Finland and opened in July, 2006. Based out of Helsinki, Jaiku was purchased by Google on October 9, 2007.

The founders of Jaiku chose the name because the posts on Jaiku resemble Japanese haiku. Also, the indigenous Sami people of Finland have traditionally shared stories by singing joiks. On January 14, 2009 Google announced that it would be open-sourcing the product, but would, “No longer actively develop the Jaiku codebase,” leaving development to a, “Passionate volunteer team of Googlers”.

On March 12, 2009 Jaiku was re-launched on Google’s App Engine platform and on March 13, 2009 the source code to JaikuEngine (the open source equivalent of the jaiku.com codebase) was released.

Jaiku consists of a website, a mobile website, and a client application which acts as a replacement address book that runs on Nokia S60 phones.

Jaiku is compatible with Nokia S60 platform mobile devices through its Jaiku Mobile client software. The software allows users to make posts through the software onto their Jaiku page. Jaiku released their API, which allows programmers to make their own third party software components such as Feedalizr. One of the main differences between Jaiku and its competitor Twitter is Lifestream, an internet feed that shares users online activities utilizing other programs such as flickr for photos, last.fm for music, and location by mobile phone. However, since Jaiku became open-source, the Lifestream function has been removed, making it more like Twitter.

This is not the first time Google has bought a social network then under-supported it. The same thing happened with Orkut. Orkut was launched on January 24, 2004 by Google as an independent project of Orkut Büyükkökten. The community membership was originally by invitation only.


Plurk is a free social networking and microblogging service that allows users to send updates (otherwise known as plurks) through short messages or links, which can be up to 140 text characters in length (same as Twitter).

Updates are then shown on the user’s home page using a timeline which lists all the updates received in chronological order, and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Users can respond to other users’ updates from their timeline through the Plurk.com website, by instant messaging, or by text messaging.

Plurk is very popular in Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia and the United States.

Plurk was developed by and envisioned as a communication medium meant to form a balance between blogs and social networks, and between e-mail messaging and instant messaging. After months of development, Plurk was launched on May 2008.

The etymology of the name was explained by the developers as such:

abbreviation of ‘people’ and ‘lurk’
portmanteau of ‘play’ and ‘work’
acronym of peace, love, unity, respect, and karma
verb neologism, similar to how Google was eventually used as a verb

Plurk’s interface shows updates in horizontal form through a scrollable timeline written in JavaScript and updated through AJAX. Users can post new messages with optional ‘qualifiers’, which are one-word verbs used to represent a thought (e.g. “feels”, “thinks”, “loves”, etc.). There are also advanced features such as sending updates only to a subset of your friends, posting updates on events earlier in the day, and sharing images, videos, and other media.

Plurk also supports group conversations between friends and allows usage of emoticons together with the usual text micro-blogging.

The Plurk.com developers released public access to API on December 4, 2009.


Presently is a microblogging service launched in 2008 and given a Webware 100 Editors’ Choice award in 2009 by CNET. The New York Times cites “security and privacy” as Present.ly’s top selling points.

Presently allows individuals to post short, frequent updates that are tracked or “followed” by others. Unlike Twitter, Present.ly provides a secure and private way to share updates among members of a company, without them being visible to the outside world. In other words, it’s an Intranet-as-a-service (IAAS).

Presently allows you to change the logo and colors, much like Twitter and even includes a Twitter API to create novel ways to interact with the Present.ly system. And all the tools built for Twitter can be adapted to Presently with just a few small modifications. The system can also be ran in-house using the Enterprise Edition.


Tumblr is a blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, video, links, quotes, and audio to their tumblelog, a short-form blog. Users are able to “follow” other users and see their posts together on their dashboard. Users can “like” or “reblog” posts from other blogs on the site. The service emphasizes customizability and ease of use.

David Karp founded Tumblr in 2007 with Marco Arment as lead developer. Right away, 75,000 existing bloggers switched to the platform, and since that time the service has garnered more than 3 million users. Jeff Rock created a Tumblr app for the iPhone, which was acquired by Tumblr in 2009.

On March 17, 2010, the Tumblr staff blog announced that Tumblr is now accessible on BlackBerry smart phones via an app created by Mobelux. On April 17, 2010, the application was made available on BlackBerry App World.

According to a March 8, 2010 post on the Tumblr staff blog by founder, David Karp, the site is now averaging 2,000,000 posts and 15,000 new users every day.

Tumblr’s emphasis is on customization and ease of use, with a relatively simple sign-up process. There are many forms of content that can be added to the user’s own tumblelog; the seven general categories for posts include Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, and Video. Users “follow” other tumblelogs, much like on Twitter, and their updates appear in one stream on the Dashboard. This is the interface from which users can like and reblog posts, as well as add content to their own tumblelog. There is also a “like” button, which lets one user tell another that they like his or her content, and a “reblog” button, which easily reposts content from one tumblelog onto another.

On March 15, 2010, the Tumblr staff blog announced that they were testing a feature that would allow direct video uploading. Previously, Tumblr could only host videos provided from an external host. Also, it recently added a feature that allows bloggers to add pages to their blog, allowing for more variety, organization, and flexibility with content. This puts it above and beyond it’s original designation as a microblogging service and more into the realm of Facebook, but Tumblr is most often compared to Twitter.


Twitter is the golden rule of microblogging services, the social network that all other microblogging platforms are compared to. Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Since late 2009, users can follow lists of authors instead of following individual authors. All users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS), or external applications (notably including those developed for smartphones). While the service itself costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees. The website currently has more than 100 million users worldwide.

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide. It is sometimes described as “SMS of the Internet.” The use of Twitter’s application programming interface for sending and receiving text messages by other applications often eclipses direct use of Twitter.

The first tweet was published on March 21, 2006, by Jack Dorsey at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST) who wrote, “just setting up my twttr”.

The first Twitter prototype was used as an internal service for Odeo employees, later launching publicly into a full-scale version in July 2006. In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of its assets—including Odeo.com and Twitter.com—from the investors and other shareholders. Twitter later spun off into its own company in April 2007.

By the end of 2007, about 500,000 tweets per quarter were posted. By the end of 2008, 100 million tweets per quarter were posted. By the end of 2009, 2 billion tweets per quarter were posted. In the first quarter of 2010, 4 billion tweets per quarter were posted.

Twitter is increasingly being used as a business promotional tool and as a news outlet. Twitter encourages this through ‘Twitter 101’, a web-based tutorial aimed at business users.

Compare features of the microblogging services at Wikipedia, which adds Facebook to the mix due to it’s status update feature and ability to post from SMS.