Tumblr, the visual blogging platform, is a hidden gem of the blogging world. For organizations with visual content, a younger demographic (though not a requirement), and a commitment to regular blogging, Tumblr may be the perfect blogging channel.
Tumblr is low on the time-commitment scale; posting a photo with a caption, “reblogging” content from another blog, or adding a short phrase or image ideal content genre within the Tumblr culture. One might think of Tumblr as “the Facebook” of blogging: highlighted quotes, idea excerpts, short videos, and photographs are the bread-and-butter staples of a Tumblr blog. This is the same kind of content which can also be used adroitly to share stories, connect with fans and stakeholders alike, and bring those stakeholders inside your organization. I also love that every Tumblr blog includes the native “ask a question/submit content” feature, which facilitates partnerships with stakeholders to create, discuss, and share content. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Tumblr’s unique demographics: half of Tumblr’s users are age 25 and younger. If you want to know where young people are reading blogs online, it’s on Tumblr.
Showcased below are five nonprofit organizations that understand the power of the Tumblr blogging platform. These organizations use Tumblr to tell stories, inspire co-created content, and connect with their audiences online.
To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. It hosts not one but two Tumblr blogs: Here We Collide and the TWLOHA Tumblr blog. Here We Collide is “A project by To Write Love on Her Arms. This project was started by To Write Love on Her Arms as a way of finding hope amidst the chaos. We believe stories—whether captured in words, colors, images, motion, or frames—can point to hope. Our desire is that the words and work we share here will inspire you—so that you might inspire others. This is not just a blog; it is a community. There are stories you have not told, songs you have not sung, images you have not yet brought to light—and we eagerly await them.” Here We Collide is a mix of “Collective” category submissions, inspiring quotes and photos, and reblogging (reposting to one’s own blog) from community blogs.
The “official” TWLOHA Tumblr blog is subtitled “Behind the Scenes: From the Streets of Melbourne to the Road,” and that’s exactly what it is. It features TWLOHA interns, behind the scenes at the Heavy and Light tour, reblogs from the Here We Collide Tumblr site, and more. The interaction and engagement are phenomenal; most posts garner between 50 and 2,000 comments (called notes on Tumblr), which include Likes, reblogs, and comments.
This Tumblr blog is a project of the Academy of American Poets, and for people who love poetry. The website offers a poem of the day, but the Tumblr blog makes the written become vibrantly visual. From a poster highlighting a section of Sylvia Plath’s journal to a fascinating experimental poetry video of words, this Tumblr blog creatively brings you inside poetry. Each Tumblr post receives at least 40 notes, some receive hundreds!
The San Francisco Ballet uses Tumblr to offer a peek behind the scenes of the ballet as the company prepares for a production, practice, and closes down shows. The blog also invites readers to submit content, and invites them to participate in contests. Last year, the Ballet invited fans to anonymously submit a letter based on the question: “If you wrote a letter to your ‘first love’ now, what would you write?” They timed the letter-writing to coincide with the San Francisco Ballet’s production of Onegin, a ballet about a young woman who pours out her heart in a letter to her first love. The Ballet published the beautiful chronicle of the submitted love letters.
4. Fresh Air
Fresh Air is a radio interview show about contemporary arts and culture. What is fascinating is how Fresh Air took an audio program and morphed it into an incredibly appealing visual Tumblr blog. From photos of Sandra Day O’Connor, to poems, to a comic strip representing a topic on air, Fresh Air manages to keep its Tumblr blog lively and…fresh. While I find the content compelling, I love the FAQ section that brings the web content producer, Mel Kramer, out from behind the blog.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Tumblr blog is a winning combination of transparency, visual detail, and connection to the museum’s exhibitions. From photographs of artists and their works on display, to photos from their Late Night Photo Booth, to submissions from Tumblr readers, this blog engages. This blog showcases simple design, offers honest answers to hard questions submitted, and adds value to its exhibitions with appealing supplementary content.
Additional resources and ideas:
Tumblr art blogs to follow
Face Off Against Tobacco, a youth alliance campaign that used Tumblr as a primary platform (Community Organizer 2.0)
Four ways to use Tumblr to connect with customers (Social Media Examiner)
Pew Study highlights the explosion of photo and video sharing (Community Organizer 2.0)