Week 5: Develop Your Online Presence – Tumblr

Lecture

Tumblr. What is it, and why should we care? What can it do for writers and other entrepreneurs?

So you’re already blogging on WordPress or blogger.com, you’re on Facebook and Twitter and want to broaden your digital reach. You need to build your platform with a view to making sales. Do you need Tumblr or is it just one more time-consuming activity that may or may not pay off?

Well, first of all, let’s look at what it is, and who uses it.

Tumblr’s tagline is ‘Follow the World’s Creators’. It’s a social networking website and micro-blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio to their short-form blog, called a tumblog. You can follow other users and re-blog their posts, or you can make your tumblog private. Like many of these websites, how effective it can be depends upon how much creativity and energy you put into it.

A micro-blog is different from a traditional blog such as WordPress or Blogger.com in that the content is typically shorter and a smaller file size. Micro-blogs are often simply small chunks of content such as a short sentence, an individual image, or links to videos.

So it’s a longer form than Twitter and a shorter form than a traditional blog. Here is a summary of its demographics:

Is your audience or market on tumblr? Now that there are so many different social media sites in existence, this is always going to be the primary question to ask yourself. Without this information, it’s impossible to assess whether the site is worth your time.

Well, let’s see. Tumblr began as an outlet for young adults and college kids to express themselves, and the average Tumblr user’s profile is women aged 18 – 29. If (or when, if you work for different clients and your target demographic changes) this your target demographic, it may be worth establishing a presence.

Tumblr’s format feels almost like a journal. It’s super-easy to use; it takes just a few minutes to set up an account and start using it, and blog posts are more likely to go viral because of the image-based posts and young audience who are in the habit of quickly clicking and sharing. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, it doesn’t usually feel like there is a real person reading the posts on the other end. No matter how many “likes” and “reblogs” a post gets, there isn’t the same human interaction on Tumblr that other social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook encourage.

It’s free to set up and host your own domain name. You can also customise your page using the large number of themes developed by its user community, presently there are over 1,100 unique and customisable designs to use for your tumblog. These themes are from free up to €50, if you have more cash to invest in your product you can have your page professionally designed. (Like Beyonce did. Her site is superb and very intimate – it’s where her fans follow her and find out where she’s performing and what she’s selling.)

One of the best features is how tumblr extends your reach courtesy of the “re-blogging” feature. Every time your content is re-blogged you are credited as the original source so you are building awareness about your products and services.

Another good thing is that, unlike Facebook, you keep copyright of everything you post.

It’s tailor-made for highly visual industries: As a medium it really lends itself to short and highly visual posts. Are your products and services highly visual? Areas such as Photography, Architecture, Interiors, Exteriors, Landscape Gardening, Design in all of its many guises, Clothing & Fashion, Haircuts, Publishing, Tattooing all readily lend themselves to tumblr. However, having access to good quality images is a must.

Tumblr is great as a platform to easily and quickly set up a blog for your business for free, but if you aren’t armed with a reasonable camera or are unable to generate images of your work readily, tumblr is probably best left alone.

Checklist:

Consider whether Tumblr is for you. If not, this is great information. The internet is so vast these days that sometimes the best thing you can decide is what NOT to do. You might also like to file in your mental ‘for later’ file, because (believe it or not!) there will come a time when you have the main sites established, and you might be looking for a new outlet.

If you like the look of Tumblr but your target audience is not here, perhaps your project might be tweaked to fit? There’s almost always a way to re-purpose short pieces (which may be connected to longer works) to appeal to different age groups.

If Tumblr looks useful to you (or if you’re just interested), have a look at theHuffington Post’s list of top blogs.

If your target audience is here, start up your own account in minutes at tumblr.com and check out this post on becoming Tumblr famous.