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Best practices for getting the
most out of tumblr.
LET’S GET READY TO TumbLR
This combination social-networking and blogging service could give your business a boost.
by K. T. Bradford
New social-networking services pop up
almost weekly, and many die off just
as quickly, making it hard for some
businesses to determine where to focus
their social marketing efforts. One site that’s
proved sticky is Tumblr, a microblogging
platform that’s become extremely popular in
the fashion industry and is busy building its
cred in other sectors as well. In fact, Tumblr
recently passed WordPress in terms of the
number of blogs hosted. Businesses that
don’t want to miss out may be ready to take
the plunge, but there are several factors to
consider before setting up shop.
What Is Tumblr?
Tumblr is a blogging platform that com-
bines social-networking features with more
traditional blog tools such as WordPress
and LiveJournal. Whether you’re consum-
ing posts or creating them, this service is
simple to use, though it’s a far cry from your
There are no word or character limits on
Tumblr posts, though there is a heavy emphasis
on short, bite-sized content. Content can be
text, but it can just as easily be a quote or a
photo. Unlike traditional blogs, Tumblr has
only a minimal focus on user comments,
at least in the traditional sense. Instead,
interactions happen when followers reblog
or like a post. Reblogging is like retweeting
in Twitter; a reader puts up your post on his
or her Tumblr blog with attribution (automati-
cally handled by the site) so that followers
can see, watch, or listen.
The more Reblogs your post has, the
wider your post is disseminated. If users
add extra comments to their Reblog, the
original poster can track and even respond
to them (by reblogging again).
Similar to LiveJournal and Facebook, Tumblr
shows its users all posts on their dashboard,
with the most recent posts showing up at
the top. Tumblr users can find your blog by
going to its URL, but most will read the posts
from their dashboard rather than within the
blog design you create. That puts the focus
on the content of individual posts.
It’s simple to post on Tumblr using the site’s
templates for various content: Audio, Chat,
Link, Photo, Quote, Text, and Video. You can
embed media in text posts, but using Tumblr’s
different templates makes posting faster and
ensures that everything fits properly.
Tumblr blogs are free for business and
personal use. Similar to WordPress, Tumblr
blogs have a theme template system that
can be customized. If you plan to integrate
Tumblr into an existing website, it’s worth
the time and money to customize a theme
to match the look and feel of your site. For
good examples, see 92y.tumblr.com and
All Tumblr blogs are hosted on the com-
pany’s servers, just as with LiveJournal;
there’s no option to use the software and host
the content on your own site such as with
Blogger and WordPress. However, you can
attach your own domain to your account.
Tumblr allows users to schedule posts and
to set up an automatic queue, which sends
posts live at specified intervals. While you
may not constantly be on Tumblr, it’s a good
idea to space out entries during the day to
keep content fresh without making your fol-
lowers feel like they’re being spammed.
Engagement on Tumblr is different than
on a traditional blog, which trips some up
at first. It is possible to add a commenting
system to an account, but this is not on by
default and many users will ignore it.
Most of the time, if a user has something
to say about an item, he or she will reblog
it and add commentary under your original
text or media. Conversations may end up
having several branches, as different groups
of friends reblog and comment amongst
themselves. Tumblr owners will see a note
each time a user reblogs or likes a post, along
with an indication of added commentary;
it’s just not as linear as a typical comment
section in a traditional blog. Tumblr blog
owners have no control over what’s said
about the content they post. You can’t
moderate or delete someone else’s reblog,
as it’s now on their Tumblr, not just yours.
That said, the potential for a piece of
content to go viral on Tumblr—and possibly
beyond—is high for businesses that use
this service well.
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