Rich Media

FREE - Web Application

Tumblr 101 with icons around it (speech bubbles, camera, headphones, photo)

Tumblr 101

Tumblr 101

Tumblr 101

Eye icon


Tumblr has been around since 2007 and it’s still growing, especially amongst younger users. It’s time you learned what Tumblr is, how it fits into the current social media landscape, and how to boost your social media presence while hardly moving a muscle.

What Is Tumblr?

One of the first microblogging sites, Tumblr trimmed the fat off the traditional blogging experience, making it more fun, lightweight, and incredibly social. Compared to normal blogs and their traditionally lengthy posts, Tumblr offers maximum social feedback for minimum content input. It’s become quite popular – not as popular as Facebook or Twitter, but it rivals Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest in user count.

Conceptually, Tumblr combines features from Facebook and WordPress: it’s a personal blog with built-in social media and sharing functionality. Its emphasis towards visual content is reminiscent of Instagram and Pinterest, both of which it predates, and with which it competes. It popularized reblogging – easily sharing and attributing someone else’s post – for which it deserves a place in the pages of web history.


How Is Tumblr?

That’s all well and good in theory, but how does it work in practice?

Well, Tumblr is young. Very young. A solid majority of its users are under the age of 35. Predictably, a very large portion of them are mobile users. Curiously enough, the Tumblr community is notable for being fairly positive and relatively troll-free. This isn’t an accident: since user comments are generally only seen by people who follow them, trolls don’t find it very sporting.

Tumblr is also incredibly social – over 90% of Tumblr’s content consists of reblogged material. This stems from both the culture and structure of the site, as users’ Dashboards only display posts made or shared by blogs they follow. While there are official, editor-curated highlight pages (i.e. Explore and Spotlight), and while users can search for posts by tag (similar to Twitter hashtags), most content is only seen when it’s shared. Fortunately, Tumblr users know this and don’t skimp on the shares.

What Works On Tumblr?

So Tumblr folks share a lot. But what do they consider shareable? Visuals! Photos, animated GIFs and videos are incredibly popular. Text, either captioning a photo or on its own, also does well when it’s very short and snappy, but images are the top dog. Tumblr users tend to scroll and skim, and only occasionally pause to pore over something.

Knowing this, you can alter your content to better fit the Tumblr experience and better connect with users. Videos do well, but animated GIFs are the site’s bread and butter, since they don’t require the user to stop scrolling to hit ‘play,’ and they’re less hassle to view on mobile. If a video of yours doesn’t get shared as much as you think it ought to, try segmenting it into a few animated GIFs with subtitles – an incredibly popular Tumblr format.

How Can You Succeed on Tumblr?

Successful Tumblr accounts, whether by brands or individuals, have a few things in common. They generate a fair amount of content on a regular basis and tend to stay focused on a particular topic or theme – covering too much ground runs the risk of driving away followers who liked them for a specific subject.

Most importantly, they also interact. A lot. As busy as they are creating new content, big accounts are equally as busy sharing other peoples’ posts, liking them, and commenting on them. Plenty of followers can be gained just by sharing other people’s good stuff. Some users will come for the curated content, while others will come because their stuff was shared. People like to interact on social media – so interact with them!

Your best bet is to generate a grassroot following using tried-and-tested social media techniques. For example, hosting a content competition is a great way to boost your – and your fans’ – profiles, and providing content that provokes an emotional response like laughter, surprise or thoughtfulness is always in style. Advertising has been a bit slow to jump on the Tumblr train, but that’s likely to change soon. Tumblr is still developing its business model and is eager to encourage brands to set up shop, as evidenced by their rollout of a Tumblr + Brands microsite.

See Also: Choose Your Top 3 Winning Social Platforms

Remember that Tumblr is not a Facebook replacement. It’s a somewhat more personal and intimate environment. Tumblr isn’t social like the real world, but social like a series of fan communities. While it can be a bit harder for companies to reach Tumblr’s audience, for most of its Millennial users, it’s where the heart is.

Notebook and pencil

Looks like you're interested in Social...

Interested in Social?

Learn more about how to get started.