Are you on Tumblr? What It Is and How to Get Started

Image via CrunchBase

When I read in a Nielsen study that Tumblr ranks third in time people spend on a social network, after Facebook and Blogger but ahead of Twitter, I decided it was time to learn more about it.

Sure, I’ve had an account for quite a while, but that hardly counts as being active.  I’m a regular blogger on my own self-hosted site, post to Twitter and Facebook daily, and I’m very involved with the LinkedIn community. Isn’t that enough? Maybe not. So I wrote my first blog on Tumblr, which I describe later in this post with screen shots of how you do it.

Next Great Social Network?

Tumblr is a blogging platform but much more. The power of Tumblr resonated in a post on Pro Blogger about how a single Tumblr link drove a blog post to the top of Google search. Tumblr says it’s had close to 10 billion total posts and almost 20 million total blogs, more than WordPress.com.

Social media maven Steve Rubel, in a recent post entitled Tumblr is the Next Great Social Network, described it this way, “Tumblr, to me at least, isn’t a blog platform but something new entirely — a social network for both original and curated content that is longer than a tweet and often more visual in nature. It’s a hybrid.”

Through the Tumblr dashboard, you can post text, photos, quotes, links, dialogues, audio, video, slideshows, and more, creating a network effect like the one that drove the Pro Blogger writer’s post to the top of Google search.

How Does it Work?

I decided to write my first post, learning by doing. If you’re new to Tumblr you should first sign up. Here is how the registration page looks (with sample blogs). You simply enter your name, email address and URL from your website at the bottom in the rectangular windows.

Next, you click on “start posting.” You will be taken to a dashboard. Note that at the top of the dashboard there is a Chat icon which allows you to have conversations with other members. You can also upload audios and videos. I added my Tumblr account to my Facebook news feed so my blogs will be automatically posted on my wall. I also chose the option to post them to my Twitter account. Here is the dashboard:

You’re given the option of uploading an image from your own computer or another site. Tumblr has a neat editing program for images, and a variety of blog templates. I initially uploaded an image thinking it would be my blog header, but it ended up at the bottom of my post so I’ll need to figure that out. But if you want to keep it simple, you don’t even need an image. Here is how my plain vanilla post looks:

If you are a new blogger, you might find your first attempts at writing a blog, inserting links and uploading images a little intimidating. I didn’t see any detailed instructions. I’m sure if you do a Google search you can find how-to articles. And, like other social networks, there are discussion forums where you can ask for help.

While Tumblr is growing in popularity, it is still a bit of a mystery to many people, what with Facebook and Google+ hogging most of the spotlight lately. But that’s going to change with Tumblr nipping at their heels in its race to be the leading online community where people spend the most time hanging out.

So are you on Tumblr? How would you compare it to your experience on Facebook and Twitter?

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Comments

    • Susan — I think for a newcomer to social media, the Tumblr platform is easy to start with. It’s a hybrid — combining blogging, posting audio/video and links along with the ability to have conversations with other members. I got my blog up and running in about 10 minutes. I think of Tumblr as sort of the kitchen sink of social networks. I personally feel that if your audience is other business professionals that LinkedIn and Twitter are the sites to focus on, especially B2B. Others may differ.

  1. Janine — Up until last year all my blog posts from Write Speak Sell were being distributed to Tumblr via ping.fm. When I did my blog post about Tumblr I noticed they had stopped — the gremlins somehow disconnected the feed from the Tumblr end. They are back on now. So you can distribute your WP blog to Tumblr and from what I read you can also feed your Tumblr posts to WP and other social networks. Do you know Susan Oakes? She’s part of my blogging circle and lives in the Sydney area. You can click on her name in the comment she left below if you’re interested in connecting with her.

  2. It definitely is a powerful tool. I use it more for fun (sharing illustration and silly things that make ma laugh), but I notice that the right Tumblr post can go viral pretty quickly. Great tool, but how many more must we take on? 🙂

    • Dennis — I can see where sharing an illustration would make other people happy, too. But I agree, how many networks can we really be active on? The time has come to pick and choose.

  3. Jeannette, Thanks so much for writing this post about Tumblr. After you left a comment on my blog about Tumblr, I did set up an account but I honestly haven’t done much with it due to time constraints. I’m looking at it as a great tool that I can use for another blog I’m thinking of launching. Your timely post is a great reminder to not forget this! Thanks.

    • Sherryl, glad my post was helpful. I put up a plain vanilla post — which I was able to do in a few minutes. There are other more attractive templates you can use. It certainly is a time saver.

    • Thanks, Jenn. Yes, you can integrate your WordPress blog into tumblr by adding tumblr to your pingfm account. I assume you’re using pingfm to distribute your posts. Good luck.

  4. Jeannette,

    Ahh, I am not alone, Thanks for sharing your tumblr experience.I got really interested to use Tumbler after reading that post on Pro Blogger. I started tumblr but found that I am missing something on how to use it. It looks really easy to use but there are few things I think I need to learn to use it more regularly. I am sure this post will help me.

    • I’m glad my blog will be helpful to you. As with any social network, it takes time to figure how it will best fit into your marketing mix. What I try to do is start with one simple feature on the site and then keep adding others as I master them. Good luck!

  5. Hi Jeannette. I think I had the same experience you did with Tumblr. I also remember reading this blog and thought I commented on it – Yikes – I think we are all so overwhelmed! I did go to see that I had an account but like Sherryl – didn’t do anything with it Thanks for letting me know that I can use Ping.fm and link it to Tumblr – the last thing I need is another site to keep up with! Heading over now to link ping.fm. 🙂

  6. Julie — My lone post is languishing on Tumblr. As you say, last thing I need is another site to keep up with. But it is good to know you can add it to your arsenal!