How to Build Your tumblr Community

By Rob McNair

I can’t deny, I have some kind of geeky love affair with tumblr. Why do I have a slightly suspicious relationship with it? It’s easy to use, it looks great and most of all I’ve grown to love the community it has on offer.

Whether you’re into photos, music, videos, other people’s thoughts or anything in between it has something for you. Big brands have even decided to get tumblring… Alexander McQueen, Vogue, IBM, Huffington Post and Universal Music to name a few.

So why are brands getting involved? Here’s a few reasons…

  • There is currently around 35 million blogs with more than 13 billion posts
  • tumblr allows you to develop a community much like Facebook or Twitter, you can follow other accounts and be followed
  • Users are more open to sharing content because it’s straight forward by reblogging, liking and sharing posts
  • It’s simple to create a post, whether it’s a photo, some text or a video

Ultimately, tumblr’s ability to connect many people is what brands want a piece of. Building a community on tumblr is pretty straight forward; time consuming yes but achievable, certainly. I thought I’d pull together some helpful tips on how to grow your tumblr followers and get the most out of your blog.

Generosity begins at home… right?

Focus on developing your own community within tumblr first. Sounds obvious but those people using tumblr are going to form your community – posting links to Facebook or Twitter is a definite MUST but you’re essentially broadcasting with the hope of picking up followers from a far larger base. Search “tags” for those blogging about similar topics and follow their accounts and “like” their posts, you’ll soon see those accounts returning the favour.

A nifty trick that seems to work is if you have a blog post schedule in, the night before search for tags around that topic. Follow those accounts and “like” similar content to your scheduled post. The day after you’ll see some have followed you back, meaning when your scheduled blog post goes out, there’ll be instantly hit with content they like or resonate with. A pretty good way to start a “relationship”.

What’s that?!

Content is king in the blogosphere, that’s pretty obvious, so think about what you’re posting. It’s worth remembering tumblr is very much a visual and creative blogging network… pictures, music and video work extremely well so focus on supplying content that others will want to reblog and “like”. Post regularly too, the more you do so the quicker your community will grow. A couple of posts a day is enough and remember it’s very quick and easy to post on tumblr, so choose a video, picture or reblog someone else’s content if you’re strapped for time but make sure it’s a good quality post. Tip – use tumblr’s built-in scheduler, you can plan your whole week leaving you time to focus on building the community in other ways.

Theeemes can come true!

One thing I love about tumblr is the ease with which you can customise your blog. In tumblr, this all starts with your theme – essentially the way your tumblr will look. There are paid themes or free themes and it’s important you pick the right one for you and your prospective followers. Pick something that will appeal to your audience but is also practical… for example it’s worth checking if your theme allows you to upload a logo header (if you want one) or that it includes “tweet” or Facebook “like” buttons. Some don’t. Themes range from free to $49 so if you can afford to splash out do so but you can easily make a free theme look a million dollars with a little nip and tuck here and there (check out the custom HTML and experiment).

Community Spirit!

This is the essence of a community and where you’ll reap the most reward. You must go out and look at others content – tumblr has a feed much like Facebook and Twitter so the content comes to you, you just have to follow the accounts you’re interested in. Reblog and “like” content that is appealing to you. That way your blog will become visible in the “notes” underneath others content and will help to begin to build relationships. The more you do it, the more love your blog will get. After all, you can’t expect people to participate in your blog if you don’t put the effort in yourself.

Be trendy

OK so tumblr can be a little hipster at times but it’s important to be “trendy” in a different sense. Be sure to participate in popular trends when tagging your content – for example #gif is doing well at the moment, so post any relevant gif images to your blog. Popular tags are one of the best ways to get your blog and content visible to those not following you and tumblr users actively search “tags” more than other platforms. tumblr have made it even easier by pulling together popular “tags” here so check it out before posting. Also, reblogging content from the “Top Editors” column will essentially give you a nice link on some of tumblr’s best blogs – ok, it will be amongst a sea of others but putting all these little things in place will build up to big rewards.

Follow me, I’ll follow you

This is a bit lame I’ll admit but it’s one to consider when building your community. You’ll find pretty much all tumblr discussion outside the site ends up reverting back to people posting “follow me, I’ll follow you”, especially on the tumbr Facebook Page. It’s worth sticking your URL down when setting up and you’ll notice a few people starting to follow you and probably liking your content.

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This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.