Six Questions About Tumblr, Answered by Tumblr

Apr 18, 2014

A picture of the Tumblr login page, that refreshes with random images from Tumblr users' posts.
Credit Background image provided by Jolie Ngo, 36x48.tumblr.com

When I think about which of the many social media platforms are tailor made for radio, Tumblr is the first to come to mind. In terms of ease of use, formatting, and even content, Tumblr can be just right for the time-crunched public radio reporter, producer, or for special projects.

I am sure there are Tumblr doubters out there, but like all tools, the power is in how and why you use it.

To help answer some questions we had about using Tumblr,  I spoke with Danielle Strle, Tumblr's Director of Product for Community & Content. I asked her to shed some light on some common questions we hear about Tumblr: 

What is better to receive on a post - a reblog or a like? 

The power of a reblog to reach audiences beyond just those who follow you makes it much more valuable than a like, Danielle said. “Reblogs are the most direct way to get your content distributed to people outside of your own Tumblr network."

What’s the proper etiquette for reblogging  posts? 

In terms of "reblog etiquette," if you see something on Tumblr that you want to put on your blog, always reblog the post instead of lifting the content directly from the blog and creating your own post.  

Should you be formatting your posts for the Dashboard, or your Tumblr page? 

"Most of the interactivity with your blog (likes, reblogs, etc.) will happen on the Dashboard, but your blog is the best way to get a fully comprehensive look at all of your content, so you want to leave a good impression,” Danielle shared. The best way to make your posts appeal to both your dashboard and blog viewers is to use the proper post type, avoid inserting photos into the body of your post’s text, and avoiding custom HTML whenever possible.

On the left, Newsweek chose to post their photo using the photo posting option, while the Tumblr blog, That Lit Site, embedded the image in the body of a text post, and so the image appears smaller and does not grab the attention of the reader when quickly scrolling through the Dashboard. (Source, L-R:Newweek reblogged by NPR, Thatlitsite)
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

How many followers is a lot or a little on Tumblr?   

Danielle says followers are not the best way to judge success on the site. "Chasing a certain follower number is not a holistic way to measure the success of your content," she said. Instead, focus on reblogs and likes for feedback from your audience.

Sites like TumblrStats can also provide analytics on your blog, beyond what is provided on your Dashboard. 

Which of the seven types of Tumblr posts do especially well? 

Tumblr  allows you to post seven different types of content: text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio or video. Each asks for different information when you are crafting your content, and each formats a little differently on your blog and on the Dashboard.

While some of your intended post may fit into more than one of these types,  it is a good idea to take a second and think about the focus of your post. Is it a great picture? Is it a piece of captivating sound? Whatever it is, select the type that best features your post's strengths.

(Animated GIF of the seven types of Tumblr posts.) 

The good news for public radio here? Danielle says above all else, "storytellers are the biggest winners." 

What's the best time to post something to Tumblr? 

Thanks to Tumblr's handy scheduling feature, you can control when your posts publish to your Tumblr blog. Danielle says it is important to stagger your posts throughout the day, but that research done by URL shortening site, Bitly has found that the highest rate of activity on Tumblr seems to fall after 4 p.m. ET. The analytics tool, Union Metrics also found that note counts peak at around 10 p.m. ET. Experiment with scheduling and the Queue tool to see what times work best for the type of content you are sharing.

Looking for more inspiration? Here are just a few Tumblrs worth checking out:

Do you have a great Tumblr to recommend or a question to ask about using Tumblr? Email ds-editorial@npr.org or tweet us @NPRDS.