Nov 16, 2012

Back to Basics: Tumblr - Mixing the Visual with the Verbal

Oftentimes, the question I get asked most about Tumblr is “What is it?”. That, my friends, is a great question. One that has many answers, few of which are wrong.

Some say Tumblr is a blogging platform. They would be right. Some say it’s a social network. Well, they’re right, too.

Tumblr has been on the social scene for about five years, and has seen a similar exponential growth pattern as link social media heavy hitters Pinterest and Instagram. Today, Tumblr is home to more than 60 million blogs, 25 billion (yes, BILLION) posts, and more than 25,000 new users and 40 million new posts a day.

So, as marketers can see, Tumblr could be your next high-value piece of social media property.

But what makes Tumblr so great isn’t just the potential reach brands have. No, it’s in the type of content that Tumblr users love and expect.

Think of Tumblr as a more verbose (and visual) Twitter. Tumblr users have a unique ability to create dynamic streams of content that relate to a single topic of expertise, or, sometimes, relate to nothing in particular. It’s all about sharing what you are doing, finding, loving, thinking, or creating. And that’s what makes it so special in the space. A brand’s Tumblr page is a space where users expect the kinds of off-the-way creativity that are sometimes neglected in the normal social media channels.


So what advice do we, the social media experts, offer to brands interested in staking claim of a Tumblr page? Here’s our Tumblr basics.


Tumblr Basic #1: Think temporary. That’s Tumblr’s niche.

Your brand’s Tumblr page is not the time to focus on content that will “live forever”. Do to the temporary nature of the blogging site, it’s okay to have hyper-timely content. And, as a brand, decide how often you’d like to post on Tumblr. Like Twitter, the activity level is expected to be higher than other social networking sites (like Facebook), but be sure to not post TOO much and command your followers’ streams. Tumblr even has a solution for that. Let Tumblr do the hard work for you and queue your posts. The “queue post” option will let you space out your posts without having to delay posing something time sensitive or urgent.

Just, please, make it interesting.


Tumblr Basic #2: Understand the visual of it all.

Like Twitter, Tumblr is a network made for scrolling. And what will make your audiences’ eyes stop and even share your content? Pretty pictures. In the ever-changing landscape of social media, a shift toward the visual has transformed how we post on all social media sites, and Tumblr is no different. Take a note from some of Tumblr’s most beloved brands, like Bergdorf Goodman, and use Tumblr as a chance to display highly visual, behind-the-scenes content, like recaps of events, photo shoots, or the daily comings and goings of your brand.


Tumblr Basic #3: Optimize, optimize, optimize.

Like many other aspects of social media and digital marketing, it’s all about being found. When posting to Tumblr, be sure to tag high-volume, relevant keywords in each post. These words should all, however, relate to the post or to your brand.  Tagging such keywords will help your posts not only show up on your feed, but when users search for that word.


So, if you’re brand isn’t on Tumblr, go ahead and stake the claim on your username, then take the time to outline a Tumblr content and posting strategy. You’re only a few minutes away from being part of the Tumblr community.


Another Basic: Make sure you enable search engines to index your Tumblr blog. In you settings section, make sure to check the box labeled “Allow search engines to index your blog”, and voila! You’ll have a better chance to show up in Google, Bing or any other heavy-hitting search engine.


The LEAP "Back to Basics" blog series takes social media back to step one. From discovering the "must haves" of Facebook to the ins and outs of Tumblr, each blog will focus on the essentials of the world's most loved (and sometimes, loathed) social networks. Not only will you learn where your brand should be, but why it should be there, and how to maximize your social influence.