Kathryn Dunn | @greengoldkate Ever wonder where all the .gifs of various TV shows, movies, and cute kittens come from? In a good number of cases, the source will be Tumblr.com, a micro blogging site that was started as a cross between Twitter and Facebook, but has evolved into a community-hosting site with its own language, style, and peculiarities.
Many Tumblr users are in their teens or early 20s, though there are more users in their 30s to 40s than one might think. In user-base, Tumblr has partially replaced Livejournal as the go-to place for “fandom” interaction, a sounding board for fans of various shows, movies, or books to discuss anything and everything. Tumblr works in a similar way to Twitter: users can post original content, or “reblog” content they either find by searching “tags” or content that is posted or reblogged onto their dashboard. Unlike Twitter, however, there’s not a character limit or image constraint. Users can post just text, images with text, quotes, links, transcripts of conversations, or audio of nearly any size or length.
One other unique feature of Tumblr is the “tags” system, something also seen on Instagram and Pinterest. Unlike those two, though, Tumblr users often use tags as a way to insert their own commentary on an image or reblog, as site-etiquette has evolved in a way that it’s considered rude to comment on the body of a post reblogged from someone else. Many times, an extremely popular post will have upwards of 100,000 “notes,” though some inflation occurs when the same user reblogs a post multiple times. Other than the reblog function, Tumblr also offers a “like,” where a user can bookmark or favorite a post, but not have it show on their own page.
Handling Tumblr as a corporation can be very difficult. The insular nature of the site, as well as the tendency towards swift reactions by a large number of people, means that the person running the corporate Tumblr has to understand Tumblr at a user’s level. One of the best example of this is the 24/7 diner Denny’s. Denny’s tumblr doesn’t resemble a corporate blog, with pictures of happy employees or specials. Rather, it imitates the style of a regular user, using amusing gifs, consumer interaction, “snark,” and humor to draw attention to the brand. It doesn’t hurt that a popular breakfast food, bacon, has reached mimetic status, meaning that Denny’s can incorporate a product in ways that will be reblogged.
While it may seem appealing to want to dive head first into the 130+ billion userbase that Tumblr offers, promoting your business through this site should be considered carefully and thoroughly. As with other social media platforms, the feel of authenticity is key to success. Make sure to know your business’ angle and approach, and whether or not your product is likely to appeal to the demographic.