I have always been wary of ‘the next big thing,’ so when Tumblr launched back in April 2007, I was not overly excited about it.
We had enough blogging platforms and my world revolved around Digg and other social media aggregation sites that were driving hundreds of thousands of visits and thousands of links.
I had registered an account a long time back, so I decided to dust it off and give Tumblr a try. What I found was really interesting: Not only does the system have one of the most vibrant and active user bases I’ve seen, but it also is actually super-easy and enjoyable to participate in.
Now a month into using the system, I’ve not only gained Tumblarity with about 600 really active followers, but I also have learned quite a bit about how to succeed on Tumblr — some of which I will share with you now.
KISS – The first thing I would recommend on Tumblr is to keep it simple. The majority of updates I see that are very popular, are very short and simple.
Images – Most of the popular posts I see on Tumblr also are images. Adding funny, quirky and meme-style pictures to your thread will have positive results for your Tumblr account.
Tweet Your Post – Inside the post creation page, there is an option to tweet your post upon publication. I would recommend doing this from time to time, as it is a great way to get your Twitter followers who have Tumblr accounts to follow your Tumblelog.
Queue System – One of the coolest features on Tumblr is the ability to queue your posts and reblogs. By selecting the ‘add to queue’ option while creating a post, you can set a schedule for auto-publishing.
I would recommend using the queue system as much as possible, so your updates are staggered and so you are more likely to have at least one post every day to keep your Tumblelog active and up to date.
Reblogging – Reblogging is another cool aspect that Tumblr offers. If you see something another Tumblr user has posted and you want to add it to your Tumblelog, just click the reblog button and you can publish it right away or add it to your queue.
Not only are you able re-use other people’s great material, but it gives credit to the original poster and puts your account into the notes for the original thread, which can lead to people visiting your page and potentially following you.
Liking – Liking is what you do when you like something, but not enough to necessarily reblog it, or when it might not fit the theme that you have decided upon for your Tumblelog. The like button is the small heart logo just to the right of the reblog button.
Liking will also put your account name into the notes for the original post, allowing you some visibility to other Tumblrs.
Ask and Answer Questions – Tumblr has a unique aspect in that it allows you to mark a post as a question, and allow other Tumblr users to offer an answer. This is really easy for you or someone else to do, since the answer box show right in your dashboard and allows you to answer from the same page.
Answering any question of course adds your answer to the notes and engages other Tumblr users.
The option to make a post into a question is offered whenever you ask a question in the comment or body of your post — if you use the “?,” it automatically appears.
Many Tumblelogs also have an option to ask the owner of the blog a question as well. Clicking on the “ask” link will take you to the Tumblelog’s /ask page where you can then enter your question for the owner. If the owner decides to answer the question it will show as a post.
Tumblr Tuesday – Each Tuesday, the Tumblr staff would recommend Tumblelogs they thought were worth following. This evolved into ‘Tumblr Tuesday,’ when all users are allowed vote on their favorite Tumblelogs.
Users can only vote for one blog each week, so on Tuesdays you’ll see a lot of Tumblr users asking their followers to vote for them, which helps them raise up the ranks in the public directory.
Tumblr displays a small message and link in the sidebar of the dashboard every Tuesday reminding you to vote for your favorite blog as well, just to make sure you don’t forget.
Not everyone recommends blogs on Tumblr Tuesday, so I suggest adding a recommend button to your Tumblr somewhere, so people can recommend your blog when they see it.
Customization – Tumblr allows almost complete customization, so why not add Twitter and Facebook widgets to your site, links you want to showcase and even social media voting buttons to your posts.
If you are not a coder and thus not comfortable editing your theme directly, most themes allow you to add elements to the sidebar, by pasting your widget, link or other code snippets in the Info tab of your customization screen.
You can also redirect your Tumblelog to a custom URL, so you can have just about any URL you want for your Tumblr.
Like I said earlier, I am not that easily impressed and do not jump on the social media bandwagon without finding real value in the community or tool presented. Tumblr definitely presents a super-easy-to-use system with a very active and dedicated user base, and I definitely recommend you start using it more.