Tumblr: Have You Forgotten About This Huge Social Network?

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Have you been concentrating so much on the usual social media networks like Facebook and Twitter that you've ignored other important traffic sources? It may not hog all the media attention like Pinterest, but Tumblr is one of the fastest-growing social networks, with more users than either Blogspot or WordPress.com.

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Because the audience is pretty specific it's not a good fit for every type of marketing, but if you're looking for a young, hip, creative crowd, then read on to find out how Tumblr can help you reach them.

Like a Turbo Twitter

The network is essentially a micro-blogging platform – a technically more sophisticated version of Twitter, if you like. There are seven predefined content types – text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio and video – each with an admin screen tailored to the type of content. The Add a Quote screen, for example, has just two text fields – one for the quote and one for the source.

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Above: Tumblr's minimalist admin screen

You'll notice that three of the predefined content types – photo, quote and link – are by nature short pieces of content and that's a key difference between Tumblr and other networks. Although you'll see longer posts occasionally, for the most part the content is short, snappy, usually visual and often funny.

Using social media for obvious, in-your-face marketing is never a good idea but it's especially suicidal if attempted on Tumblr's younger, more savvy users.

There's an art to intelligently mixing marketing stuff with other content. Big brands that are successful in getting that difficult balance right include MTV, Sony Music Canada and even Barack Obama.

Notice how all of them make huge use of fun imagery, with very little in the way of a marketing message. That's the key to success on this platform.

Who's on Tumblr?

It's a younger crowd than either Facebook or Twitter.

Public analytics company Quantcast shows the single biggest audience segment is the 18-24 range, with 25-34 the next largest age group (although that demographic is half the size of the 18-24 group).

Users are pretty much evenly split between a male / female and U.S. / International audience.

Because of the younger profile, the best time to post mirrors the lifestyles of school and college students and when they are free. That means the following tend to be the best times to post and be noticed:

  • Early morning, before school / college
  • Lunchtime
  • Early evening between the end of lessons and evening meal
  • Late evening and very early morning, an hour or two either side of midnight – between the end of studying / partying and the end of the day

Like WordPress and most other publishing platforms, the Tumblr interface has the option of scheduling posts, so it's easy to publish at these times.

Key concepts

It's a social networking site and a publishing platform. That means you should actively share interesting posts you find on your own Tumblr blog. This is called a reblog and it's the equivalent of a retweet, except instead of just reposting a link you're republishing the whole post.

It's pretty much impossible to reblog too much, so you can use that feature to quickly launch a blog of curated content on a particular subject and get noticed and followed by the original bloggers.

Be social to get more followers

Remember that the platform is similar to Twitter in that unless you make an effort to get followers, you're essentially talking to yourself.

So once you've signed up for your Tumblr account, login to your dashboard and click the Explore link. That's the first place to find Tumblr blogs grouped by subject.

You can start following any blog right from that page and the latest updates will appear in your Dashboard. This makes it easy to reblog content and start making connections. Along with tagging, reblogging is a central part of the network – so jump in.

Once you start following a few blogs that relate to your niche you should starting getting follows in return.

Tagging is vital

The search function is probably unique for a social media network in that it works entirely by tags. That means if you don't tag your post it's seriously unlikely anyone will find it.

The more tags you add the more you'll come up in searches, but tag responsibly. Around seven or eight tags allows your content to be found without you looking like you're from Spamville.

Tumblr allows users to track tags (a saved search), so taking the time to discover and add popular tags to your posts will pay off in the form of more visitors.

Build a Mailing List

Don't forget to add a mailing list / newsletter subscription box to your blog.

Although Tumblr doesn't have a built-in service, it's easy to integrate an industry standard like AWeber or Mail Chimp by using one of their subscription form templates.

As with most websites, the sidebar and directly above or below the content are good places to promote your mailing list.

Get a High-Converting Tumblr Theme

Two-column layouts convert the best for most websites and blogs – and Tumblr is no exception.

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As with other platforms, you have a choice of free or premium themes.

Here's a list of some good free Tumblr themes, though the trouble is that good free themes tend to be overused.

For the more unique look of a premium Tumblr theme take a look at either the official theme store ($50+) or Theme Forrest ($10+).

For Infographic Junkies

Finally, here's breakdown of key facts about the Tumblr audience.

tumblrfacts

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