We've been helping brands understand how to use Tumblr for two and a half years. And we've seen it all in that time -- from wildly successful blogs with posts that earn thousands of reblogs to those blogs that couldn't quite make it work. What do the successful blogs have in common? It's actually pretty simple; they get to know their audience on Tumblr, and they post content that works well for that audience.
Here are four lessons we've learned from Tumblr's top brands.
How often should you post to Tumblr?
We recommend you post one to three time per day. If you're lucky enough to have a lot of content, you can post fairly frequently to Tumblr, particularly if you're posting outside traditional U.S. business hours (more on that in a bit). Some brands post seven or more times a day, but that pace is probably unsustainable for most, especially if you're just starting out. And while some brands will continue to see increased engagement on more frequent posts, you risk fatiguing your followers if you post too often. We've even seen evidence that if you stop posting entirely, you may actually start to lose followers.
So when you're ready to start your blog, commit to continuing it. Keep up a steady drumbeat of fresh, high-quality content, and you'll keep your fans and followers engaged. For example, Calvin Klein posts between one and four times a day, sharing photos and GIFs that showcase its accessible luxury products. These posts receive hundreds of reblogs and likes, and keep fans engaged without saturating their feeds.
When should you post to Tumblr?
Of course there's no one best time to post to Tumblr. The optimal time will vary depending on exactly who you're trying to reach and when they're most active. In general, though, Tumblr is more active in the evenings and on the weekends. So if you want to engage with the Tumblr audience when they're most likely to be paying attention, post content outside traditional U.S. business hours. It's easy to queue up content that will automatically post at different times, so consider building up a content queue to go out after hours, specifically between 5 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET on weeknights, and on Saturdays and Sundays. This will ensure your content is posted when the Tumblr community is around and active. Plus, you'll probably have less competition from other brands that tend to post during their business hours.
Denny's does this really well, reaching its audience when they're awake, which is often later at night. Tumblr users appreciate posts with a sense of humor, and content that is funny or even a little weird works well late at night. Denny's has captured this tone well in its approach to Tumblr, as the popularity of its blog demonstrates: Denny's posts average around 10,000 notes each.
How much original content should you post?
It can be difficult to find or create enough original content to sustain a blog day in and day out. But on Tumblr, there's a ton of great content constantly being created by the community that you can find and share with your followers. The most successful Tumblr blogs post a mix of reblogged and original content. In general, we recommend that you aim for a ratio of at least two original posts to every reblogged post. Unless you're specifically running a blog featuring mostly fan-generated content, which is a great idea for brands with an active fanbase, sharing a healthy mix of both original and reblogged content will engage your followers with new content and reward your fans by amplifying their work.
Netflix does a great job of finding and sharing fan-created art related to its programming.
And Disney established a Big Hero 6 fan art Tumblr to provide fans a dedicated space to share the artwork they created about the movie.
What kind of content should you post?
Finally, the big question. If you don't have a long queue of cat GIFs, should you even bother with Tumblr? Yes! There's a space on Tumblr for every brand. It's true that most of Tumblr's content is visual; we've found that nearly 90 percent of all original brand content on Tumblr is a photo or GIF. (Photo posts take a variety of forms on Tumblr, from a single still image to the popular moving GIF image, to a set of multiple photos or GIFs.) So yes, we do recommend focusing on visual content. High-quality photography and funny GIFs perform very well on Tumblr, as do interesting or unusual visual imagery. But don't feel like only cute or humorous content can be successful. Some of Tumblr's most popular brand blogs aren't what you might initially expect from the platform, like General Electric, IBM, and NPR, all of which stay true to its brand voice while creating rich visual content. However, depending on your brand voice, other post types can work well, too. We've seen brands do well with video, text, quote, link, and answer posts. So start with visual content, and mix it up accordingly, depending on the kinds of content you have and the audience you're trying to reach.
If you're newer to Tumblr, keep at it. It will take some time to build a large and engaged fan base. But if you focus on sharing the right content at the right times, you will find those fans. And when you do, you'll see that your content lives longer on Tumblr than on any other platform and can generate engagement for weeks or months after you post. The commitment is worth it.
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"Close up of tumblr website under a magnifying glass" image via Shutterstock.