#StayWeird on the Internet: Best Practices for Tumblr
Tumblr is weird. Let me reiterate that. Tumblr is weird and it knows that it is weird. Tumblr’s Staff is even on the joke, admitting that it is “so easy to use that it’s hard to explain” (until it does explain it). But it’s also an awesome way to amplify content and build a little community on the coolest corner of the internet.
For any brand, publisher, blogger or newbie looking to use Tumblr, here are our best practices for using Tumblr. READ MORE.
Trends speak louder than words. Here’s what was noisy this week:
In Palm Springs: Merrymakers pose for Valencia-tinted selfies under the desert sun at Coachella. And #reclaimthebindi, a campaign against cultural boho-priation of South Asian traditions for disposable fashion.
In entertainment: BB-8 bounced and bopped its spherical bum through the sand in the second Star Warstrailer. Hollywood glamorati hobnobbed at the 23rd (yeah) annual MTV Movie Awards. Some of them won a bucket. AndThe Royals is E!’s first scripted show, not counting their other shows.
In the news: Hillary Clinton has been driving around Iowa in a van solving mysteries.
In history:A century has passed since the Armenian genocide began.
At school: The theme for this year’s promposals is signs.
In Homestuck: Lord English’s true nature was revealed in the proximity of some horses. True fact. Look it up.
In music: The sound of hysteria: Green Day is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Some new data from our Brand Advisory Panel. (Thank you to everyone who contributed!) This time we asked our users about streaming their favorite TV shows and movies. The trend away from traditional cable and satellite providers wasn’t as surprising as the speed at which it’s happening among Tumblr users. Streaming sites like Hulu, Netflix, and broadcasters’ websites have replaced set-top boxes for a quarter of our users; and computers—not 65" TVs—are the primary entertainment system at home.
Tumblr’s advertising sales blog, @marketr, announced “alcohol brand promotion on Tumblr.” Alcohol advertising used to be banned on the platform. But Tumblr reversed course and recently took down its acceptable advertising policy. (See the archived version of the policy.) If I had to guess, I would surmise that Yahoo’s ad tech will display alcohol ads to likely drinking-age users based on its age-range algorithm.
If you want to avoid most ads on your Desktop Dashboard, consider installing a free ad blocker such as Adblock Plus. However, Tumblr Help advises the following about “managing” your ad settings: “There are also browser extensions that you can look into, just know that some extensions negatively affect the way Tumblr works. So use them at your own risk.”
Here’s how it works: Pinned to the top of a user’s dashboard is a short message or call to action, like Nike’s “Embrace your uncomfort zone.”
It’s styled like our notes and follower notifications—something familiar, unintrusive, and decidedly clickable. And what it links to deepens the engagement: An exclusive tab on the Explore page, one of the most trafficked and engaging pages on Tumblr.
You fill the tab with content. Your own, someone else’s, or a mix of the two. It’s a wall of whatever content suits your brand. You don’t even need a blog to have a Day.
Buy a Sponsored Day for an ongoing campaign, to launch a new blog, or just for fun. Contact your Brand Strategist or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve been talking about the importance of content in social media for a while now. But it’s a pretty broad subject and the details can feel a bit fuzzy. So for the past couple months we’ve been working with Millward Brown Digital and Added Value, two market research firms, to get more clarity. They helped us understand what makes an engaging media consumption experience and how content affects people’s behavior online.
We ended up with a ton of data. Way more than we can cram into one post. So today we’re just introducing the main themes and we’ll post more about each of them over the next couple weeks. Anyway, here’s what we learned:
The quality of content is the most important thing users look for in social media platforms.
The content that artists, musicians, brands, and others create for Tumblr is far more resonant than what gets shared on other networks.
Resonant content, especially from brands, drives consumer actions like online research and purchases.
First, high quality content is the most important thing people want from a media platform.
Of the top ten things people said they were looking for in a media platform, half related to content. And when people were asked to rank different social networks on those qualities, Tumblr scored highest in each category. Here’s a comparison of the way people describe Tumblr (and the content they find here) to the average score they gave other media platforms that they use:
And keep in mind that this is content from the Tumblr community. It’s from the artists, photographers, illustrators, musicians, and brands that create and share things people are passionate about. Overwhelmingly, people think the best stuff on the internet is posted on Tumblr. Which brings us to point number two:
All too often the way brands interact with millennials on social media feels stuffy and detached. But as a major destination for the 18-34 year old demographic—41% of our U.S. visitors, according to comScore—we’re in a unique position to see what really works. Today we’re sharing a few things brands can do to make content that resonates with millennials.
Tip #1: Share normal human experiences.
This shouldn’t be hard: Millennials are people too, you know. They have the same feelings and emotions as everyone else. Bond over that, like with AT&T’s happy dance.
Tip #2: Make ‘em laugh.
If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re not, you can still get a smile out of them by helping them escape their normal lives. Patagonia inspires people to take adventures. Keds gets some help from celebrities. And Wendy’s takes cues from popular culture.
Tip #3: Use memes wisely.
Things move really fast on the internet and there’s nothing worse than being two months late for a meme. Such lame. Many smh. The great thing about Tumblr is how long content circulates on the network (a third of all reblogs a post earns happen 30 days after the initial post*). That means you can focus on evergreen content like this enduring and endearing piece from Madewell, which was published more than 18 months ago and is still earning notes.
We can’t tell you what’s best for your brand. All we can do is encourage you, as a marketer, to think about content that you’d post your personal blog. That’s how you’ll make content that actually resonates with the community.
According to the US Travel Association, 429 million vacation days went unused in 2013. Long hours and few breaks are taking a heavy toll on American workers—undermining personal relationships, health, even innovation and productivity in the workplace.
MasterCard (pricelessgallery) believes that paid time off is hard earned and well deserved—and there are Priceless moments to be made by using it. That’s why they launched “One More Day,” a campaign to encourage workers to travel, and spend time with the people they care about.
You may have noticed that we’re not big fans of publicizing follower counts. The reason for this is simple: when you remove follower count, blogs are judged by content quality rather than perceived popularity. Deemphasizing follower count encourages people to focus on creating great content rather than gaining followers for the sake of upping one’s clout.
This doesn’t mean that followers aren’t important. Followers give you insight into what the community responds to and whether or not your content resonates. A large following isn’t essential to getting noticed on Tumblr; Reblogs keep content circulating throughout the network beyond your core audience. Here are some ways to engage the community and build a following:
Post what you know. Coca-Cola has polar bears, GE has jet engines. Your business has exclusive access to content that’s unique to your brand, so take advantage of that. You shouldn’t feel pressured to post daily, but you should treat every piece of content you share like it’s the first thing a new user will see from you on Tumblr. First impressions are everything, after all.
Tell a cohesive story. Each post should be a chapter in your brand story. Content should work well as a standalone on the Dashboard, but also as a piece of a larger whole (Disney Parks is a good example of a blog that is greater than the sum of its posts). When users discover your blog, whether through Reblogs on their Dashboard or through friends on other networks, they should know immediately what your brand is all about.
Tag your posts.Tag every one of your posts so users can discover your content even if they don’t follow you. When appropriate, use Featured Tags.
Engage the community. Use tools like Union Metrics or dive deep into tag pages to find and follow your supporters. Like and reblog brand-relevant content, encourage users via Fan Mail, and thank fans for their enthusiasm.
Get the word out. Connect your blog to Facebook and Twitter to push content to other platforms when you post. Publicize your blog on your corporate pages and other social media profiles, and update your blog headers for enhanced SEO.
Of course, as any marketer knows, building an organic following takes time. You can jumpstart the process with a Sponsored Post that will put your content in front of millions of users and drive sustained increases in followers.
Here’s a little tidbit you can toss back next time anyone says you spend too much time on Tumblr. According to Adobe Digital Index, our users generate $1.10 per visit for brands (RPV in agencyspeak) through referrals. Thanks for doing your part to support the free market by avoiding your other responsibilities.
The cinemagraph is back in the news (WSJ, AdWeek, fStoppers) as more and more social media platforms start supporting animated GIFs. Brands are even using them in traditional banner ads. According to the WSJ, they can get 60-80% more clicks than the static version of the same image.
(ed. note: This interview was edited slightly for length and clarity.)
How did you start making cinemagraphs?
I first came across cinemagraphs on Tumblr when Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg (annstreetstudio) created them for New York Fashion Week. I thought they were magical and have been obsessed ever since. I got my first “real” camera before a trip to Montreal two years ago, and made my first cinemagraph on that trip. I also started Adventures Once Had around that time. Before that, I was making GIFs from music videos and YouTube videos that I found funny.
The results are in: Tumblr users fill their dashboard with things they love, and they’re likely to turn that love into actual purchases. Nearly every respondent in Tumblr’s Brand Advisory Panel said they wanted something they’ve seen on Tumblr; and half said they went out and bought something they saw.
If you’ve ever sat in a meeting with a Tumblr brand strategist, you’ve probably heard the term “earned engagement.” Like earned media, earned engagement is the user activity your content generates above and beyond what you buy. But up until now, you really couldn’t tell how many more people were seeing, clicking on, and reblogging your posts than you were paying for.
Well, no longer. We’ve completely overhauled Tumblr Analytics with a focus on earned media and earned engagement to help brands understand the effective Cost Per Engagement (eCPE) of their campaign.
Take a look at the graph. It’s the only time down-and-to-the-right is a good thing.
Let’s say you spend $100 on a campaign at a cost of $1 per engagement. We’ll show your Sponsored Post until 100 people like it, reblog it, follow you, or click-through to your blog. That’s your paid engagement. Now, since Sponsored Posts work just like normal posts, anyone who reblogs it will send it to all their followers. And after that, everything is earned. Meaning free. If 100 more people engage with your post, your effective Cost Per Engagement (eCPE) drops to 50 cents. Another 100 and you’re at $0.33.
And reblogs aren’t the only driver of earned engagement. Likes are a major signal in Search ranking and trending topics, which makes your content more discoverable. Engagement on those pages is also considered earned, by the way, and further reduces your eCPE.
The reason this system works is because it benefits both sponsors and users: earned engagement increases the value of advertising on Tumblr by reducing the effective cost of the placement; and the amount of engagement a sponsor can earn is determined by the quality of content they put out. Brands can actually measure the benefit in dollars of creating content that users want to see and share.
In early 2015, we were approached by a luxury apparel retailer about designing an advertising campaign that would help the company convert more of their engagement into sales. The client had built a large and loyal audience by cultivating a luxury lifestyle image that appeals to Tumblr’s young, aspirational, and affluent audience. One thing they noticed was that their most engaged followers were existing shoppers, so a key criteria of their campaign was that it would target those users and their followers.
Tumblr and Curalate (curalate) designed a unique ad targeting solution using their advanced image recognition software, which made it possible for the client to target users based on images as well as text. First they scanned the client’s online store and built a library of product images—these could be standalone photos of a handbag or blouse, or of a model wearing the client’s merchandise.
They then scanned the Tumblr firehose, a massive stream data containing all the public interactions on the network (posts, likes, reblogs, etc.) looking for anything pulled from the client’s online store. Since the software was scanning the image, not the source, it could even identify images that came from another social network.
The whole process looked something like this:
By targeting users who were already actively posting and sharing the client’s content, image retargeting drove a 59% increase in overall engagement compared to the month before. That engagement translated directly into additional site traffic and sales:
2.4x increase in unique visitors to their online store.
20x increase in sales attributable to a Tumblr post compared to untargeted Sponsored Posts.
31% reduction in the campaign’s effective cost from earned media.
Reach known shoppers with image retargeting to increase sales and reduce cost. Tumblr and Curalate’s image retargeting solution allowed the client to focus on users who share content from from their online store. These users were naturally more receptive to the client’s advertising and were much more likely to be converted into shoppers and buyers.
Hopefully you saw what Union Metrics (unionmetrics) wrote about the dress last week. We just wanted to add our own bit of analysis and then we can put the whole thing to bed.
If you use Tumblr regularly, you know how quickly our users turn the big news of the day completely inside-out. The left shark from Katy Perry’s halftime show is a good example. We saw the same thing happen with the dress.
Within a few hours, users were cracking jokes about it, satirizing the collective freak-out, and mixing it with older memes.
All that dress-related content is what we’re looking at below. This first chart shows notes per hour, which is a good measure of how fast something is spreading. The blue line shows the original post by swiked and the green line represents all 100,000+ other posts that reference the now-famous dress.
For a few hours on Thursday night, the world went nuts.
Engagement with the original post reached its peak of about 100,000 notes per hour (NPH) around 7:00pm. By about the same time on Friday, that number dropped to just 10,000 NPH. Still a very popular post, but only about half as popular as other dress-related content, which was earning about 20,000 NPH.
Now, keep in mind that we’re talking about 100,000+ posts versus just one. And that should say a lot about how popular this one post really was.
Here’s another way to look at the same data: Cumulative notes over a three day period.
It took about 36 hours for the 100,000+ dress-related posts to earn more notes than the original. And by the end of our study period, those 100,000 posts had earned a combined 700,000 notes. But what’s really interesting is how those notes were divided up:
The top 100 dress-related posts accounted for 57% all dress-related notes.