by Mitt Ray
Many people don’t know that there are over 420 million Tumblr users. That is more than the number of users on networks like Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Tumblr is also accumulating many new users as it continues to grow at a rapid pace. The active user base publishes over 59 million posts every day.
Brands like Calvin Klein, Adidas and Comedy Central are already thriving on the network. But competition is low as only a fraction of businesses are taking advantage of the potential Tumblr offers. This is a fantastic opportunity for you and your business because when the competition is low it will be effortless for you to standout and swiftly build a presence.
Therefore, in this article, I am going to share tips on how to get started with Tumblr. I will teach you how to build the foundation that will help attract the audience you want.
Step 1: Figure out if it is right for you.
Before you commence marketing yourself on any network, you must make sure that it is going to suit your business and your strategy. To make it easy for you to figure out if Tumblr is right for your business, I have outlined the key advantages that Tumblr offers and how you can leverage those for your success.
Age of users: 39% of Tumblr’s users are under the age of 25 years. If you are trying to reach a younger demographic you should make sure your business is active here.
For reaching older audiences you should stick to using Facebook.
Creating a lot of visuals is a necessity: On Tumblr, you can post text, photos, quotes, links, chats, audio and video updates. But if you are serious about building a robust presence, most of what you post should be photos (images) as photos are extremely popular on the network.
So before you commit to using Tumblr, remember that you will need to create and share original images that a young audience would like to engage with.
Not just a social network: People use Tumblr differently than other social networks. On other networks, people usually like to share quick bits of information in the form of images and text. But many people use Tumblr as a blog and publish in-depth posts. Therefore, along with creating and sharing images you should be prepared to write longer posts occasionally if you find that they resonate well with your audience.
Can make custom modifications: Can you get your Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest profiles to appear exactly like you want them to? Not really. You can change images here and there and add some unique text, but that’s it. You can’t get your page to look precisely like you imagined it.
But Tumblr is different. Tumblr allows you to make custom modifications. You can hire a designer to give your account a unique appearance or quickly install pre-designed themes. There are many professional looking ready to install themes available.
Followers aren’t extremely important: On almost every other social network, the number of followers is important. People like to proudly flaunt and brag about the quantity of followers they have. Again, Tumblr is different. It’s rare to find a Tumblr blog display the number of followers they possess.
Tumblr users care more about the interactions they have with other users. They want to build more meaningful relationships. Hence, you will need to change your mindset on participation here.
Step 2: How to create an account.
Now that you have determined that Tumblr is a match for your business, you can get started by setting up an account.
First, visit Tumblr’s homepage and sign up for an account by adding your email address, password and username to the form provided.
Choose a good username as it will appear in your Tumblr URL. The best option is to be straightforward and add your business name. If your business name is already taken, use something similar or another name that suits your business.
Click on ‘Sign up’ after adding all details.
Then, Tumblr will ask you your age.
Then read the terms and conditions and agree to them (by ticking the box) if you are okay with them.
Next, Tumblr will ask you to take part in a test to make sure you are not a bot. Follow the instructions and your account will be created.
After your account is created, you will be asked to select 5 topics you like.
You can select more than 5 if you would like to. Once you select 5, a blue ‘Next’ button will appear at the top right corner.
Click on this button. Your account will now be ready for use and the posts on the topics you have selected will appear in your dashboard.
You can browse through them to get a feel of how Tumblr works. But before you do this, make sure you verify your email address.
Your account might be created, but it is not properly set up because your avatar, description, blog title and header image haven’t been added. So let’s add them now.
To edit your profile, click on the ‘Account’ icon found on the top right corner of your screen. Then click ‘Edit appearance’ in the drop-down menu. Then click on ‘Edit appearance’ on the new page that appears.
Once you do that, the edit options appear and you will be able to add a new avatar, edit the header image, give a title to the blog and change the accent and background color.
At a minimum to start, add an easy to recognize avatar, a relevant cover image and your business name as the title. Here you can even change your username/blog URL if you would like to.
You can then click on edit theme (which you can see when you scroll down) and change more details like the description, font style and avatar shape. After you make your changes, go back to the ‘Edit appearance’ section and take a look at the rest of the changes that Tumblr allows you to make. You will be able to adjust the queue (daily posting frequency), block other users and do various other things.
Once you edit your appearance your account should be set up. Check out your Tumblr profile URL to see how it looks.
Step 3: Install a professional looking theme.
As I mentioned, unlike other networks, you can make custom modifications to your Tumblr blog to make it your own. You can hire a designer to do this for you or, more simply, find a theme that you like and install it on your Tumblr blog for free. Below I am going to show you how to find the perfect theme for your blog. If you are still interested in creating a custom Tumblr blog, you should check this post out.
You can browse and find Tumblr themes by visiting this page. You will notice there are both free and paid themes of various designs. You should be able to find one you like and within your budget with ease.
Click on a theme you like. You will be taken to a page where you can see the features and preview it on a live demo site. Free themes you like can be installed right away. The above is a screenshot of ‘The Atlantic’, a minimalist theme.
Continue browsing through the themes until you discover one that reflects your brand and your audience.
Check out the Adidas Tumblr page for some inspiration on a well designed page. Their logo is right in the center. You know that it belongs to Adidas as soon as you visit. There’s also an immense focus on visuals, which is clever of them. Tumblr users love visuals, so they will enjoy spending time on the Adidas Tumblr account.
You too should look for a theme that places a spotlight on visuals.
You can enhance your Tumblr account by adding things like the Disqus comments system, Sumome (opt-in forms and share buttons), and various other tools to encourage engagement. You can even integrate Google Analytics with Tumblr to help you gain better insights about your visitors.
Step 4: Create the right pages.
After you install the theme, you should begin creating the pages. You could start by creating the ‘About’ page and ‘Ask’ page. On the ‘About’ page, provide a detailed introduction to your company and a link to your website. You can also add links to your other social networks on this page.
Some Tumblr themes like Simplist make it easy to display the links to your social media accounts on your main page.
The Ask page is a special Tumblr page through which people can ask you questions. You must have this page to encourage foster more engagement.
You can easily turn on this page by visiting the ‘Edit appearance’ section again and clicking the ‘Ask’ switch. Then you can choose the page’s title. You even have the option to allow anonymous questions.
To create any other page, including the ‘About’ page, you will need to visit the ‘Edit theme’ page under ‘Edit Appearance’ and click on ‘Add a page’ which can be found at the bottom of the menu on the left.
The editor will then appear and you can add your details to the page and create it.
So go ahead and create all the pages you want.
Another thing you can try doing is displaying links to your website instead of Tumblr pages. This will help you drive some traffic. People can visit your website to learn more about you instead of browsing through your Tumblr account.
An example of a brand doing this is J. Crew. On their Tumblr page, you will find that they have displayed links to their website and blog right at the top. They have also added their email address to make it easy for people to contact them. This is a great alternative to the ‘Ask’ page.
Step 5: Interact with others.
The interactions you have with your Tumblr followers are extremely important as they will determine how well you perform on the network. The more you engage with their posts by liking, reblogging, and commenting, the more likely they will be to return the favor.
Start by posting a few updates on your Tumblr page. This will give your account some substance to start. Post images of the brand you want to share. For a detailed guide on how to post effectively on Tumblr, read this post.
Also, reblog posts you like. This will not only add content to your page but will also help you interact with others. This is because when you reblog their posts onto your page their posts get more exposure. It shows that that you are interested in being social. They will hopefully return the favor by reblogging your posts too.
You can also interact with other posts by ‘Liking’ and commenting on them. A ‘like’ is similar to the ‘like’ on Pinterest and Facebook. If you plan to write comments make sure they are in depth and meaningful.
Following others is another effective way to drive engagement and gather followers. Followers might not be given as much importance as Likes and reblogs (notes), but they are still important. The more followers you have the more notes you will get.
You can find Tumblr accounts to follow by searching relevant topics in the search field and following the blogs that appear. A small percentage of the people you follow will follow you back.
If you want to find people who will be more likely to follow you back you should search for tags like ‘#follow4follow’, ‘#follow back’, ‘#follow for follow’ and other similar tags. This will give you a result of posts that contain these tags. Begin following people who have posted them as they will be highly likely to follow you back. These people are on the lookout for building relationships, hence, it will be easy for you to form a connection with them.
You could also try using the tags in your Tumblr posts. If people follow you as a result of this you will need to follow them back too.
So to get started with Tumblr follow the above steps and set up a professional looking Tumblr account. After you are satisfied with its appearance, begin posting and interacting with other users. Once you get a good feel of the network, you can experiment with more advanced things like contests and advertisements. This will help you build a really good presence on the network.
What other steps are necessary to get started with Tumblr marketing? Did I forget to add anything important? Please leave your comments below.
Mitt Ray is the founder of Social Marketing Writing where he shares social media tips.