Et Scribis

Content and Copy

The Secret to Using Tumblr Well

What Works on TumblrTumblr has become one of the most popular blogging platforms out there in the space of a few scant years-which is pretty much the speed at which everything seems to happen these days. And yet, if you’ve taken the time to check out Tumblr you’ll notice that it’s not quite like either of the two most popular blogging platforms out there (id est, WordPress and Blogger) and seems to cater to a really specific type of content. So, what’s the deal with this Tumblr thing?

Tumblelogs (Yes, I spelled that right)

A tumblelog is a short-form blog that dispenses with most of the formatting and style conventions of traditional blogging. Tumblelogs or microblogs (the preferred current usage) allow users to post content with little worry about organization or editing and have attained tremendous popularity in recent years. Great explanation, I know, but it begs the question: What the eff is a microblog? In short, it is as follows:

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing…really just a way to quickly publish the “stuff” that you run across every day on the web. (Jason Kottke)

So, now you know what a tumblelog is and have some idea of why Tumblr, the premier platform for microblogging, is named the way it is (it’s still not clear to me why they left out the “e” but maybe it looks cooler or something). 

What Works on Tumblr

Now that you have at least a working understanding of what Tumblr is we can look at what type of content works (or overindexes as the pros say) on the platform. Suffice it to say that long to medium length text posts are out. Take a quick look at Tumblr and you will see that text of any kind is sparse. For example, the Rvinyl Tumblr blog is a melange of mostly photos and animated GIFs with the only text appearing being the captions on the images themselves.

For most us, to call this platform a blog seems to defy reason. Isn’t a blog supposed to express a viewpoint, provide commentary or an opinion about something in particular? Yes, it certainly is but, truth be told, that is exactly what users of Tumblr are doing. It’s just that instead of the letter they’re using images to convey their points of view, to evoke certain emotions and elicit reactions from their readers. Tumblr really represents a tectonic shift in how content is produced and consumed and this is no surprise since its users tend to skew young. For a generation raised on Twitter and micro-content of all  kinds there’s simply no patience for a 500+ word blog post (like this one).

How Can You Use Tumblr

I’ve already gone way over my oown self-proscribed word count but let’s just say this: images, and especially, animated GIFs are the preferred form of content on Tumblr. I won’t, for example, be sharing this post out to Tumblr (in fact, Et Scribis doesn’t have a Tumblr blog yet) precisely because its not the audience I’m aiming for and my content doesn’t really work there. But, for those of you who write fiction, work with ecommerce sites or think you my want to give it a try stay tuned as I’ll be following up with more posts on how to make the most out of it as well as software and tools to help you create great animated GIFs and other images in no time.



About Michael Rickicki

I am a freelance writer, translator, social media manager and co-owner of a mid-sized automotive accessories manufacturer and retailer in Brooklyn.

5 comments on “The Secret to Using Tumblr Well

  1. alfredsalmanac
    July 22, 2014

    Interesting article. I’m going to head over to tumblr. I like concise content. Thanks.

    • Michael Rickicki
      July 22, 2014

      Thanks! Tumblr is great precisely because it’s so streamlined. Plus the user-base is uber-creative. If you’re interested check out tomorrow’s post where I’ll review some different ways of making animated GIFs which is perfect for Tumblr blogs. Thanks again and take care!

      • alfredsalmanac
        July 22, 2014

        I’ll do that. Will follow. Thanks.

      • Michael Rickicki
        July 22, 2014

        Thanks! Nice blog by the way!

      • alfredsalmanac
        July 22, 2014

        Thank you.

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