You may have noticed a lot of people on Twitter grumbling about Tumblr’s outages, the latest of which started on Saturday and have continued, in sometimes day-long chunks, through today. The social network’s problems come at a time when their userbase is growing rapidly, along with their pageviews, though this stumble threatens to curtail that.
“…keeping up with growth has presented more work than our small team was prepared for,” says the staff blog. “But we are determined and focused on bringing our infrastructure well ahead of capacity as quickly as possible.”
If you’re not one of Tumblr’s 7.5 million users, you might not even know what the heck it is or why there’s such a fuss. But for Tumblr addicts, these outages have been like someone snatching away their morning coffee. Why are people so devoted? I’ll try to explain.
Tumblr is a microblogging site that sits somewhere between Twitter and a traditional blog. There are no length restrictions on Tumblr posts, but the culture of the site encourages short updates, and many users stick to this format. The major feature that makes Tumblr stand out is that it divides up posts by type: Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, and Video.
Depending on the type of post, Tumblr serves up a different template. Photo bloggers are particularly fond of the network, as are fashion bloggers. The company recently hired their first community director for fashion, in fact, highlighting that segment’s importance on the service. If you’re not into fashion, don’t worry. Users aren’t overrun by blogs and photos and content they don’t care about. And there’s more to Tumblr than the latest runway shenanigans.
Just as with Twitter, users must Follow a Tumblr blog to keep up with it. Posts from all your followed blogs show up on the Dashboard (similar to a Facebook Newsfeed) in reverse chronological order. Tumblr makes it easy to Reblog posts, while adding your own commentary, or not. Users can also Like a post. Though there is a way to leave comments natively, most interaction on Tumblr is via Reblogs and Likes. That doesn’t mean there isn’t dialogue, though. Whenever you interact with a post, a little note shows up beneath it informing the original poster and anyone else who comes along who has reblogged or liked the post.
Tumblr makes link-blogging easy. I used to incorporate Delicious links into my blog, but found that limiting. With Tumblr I can put up links and commentary, photos, video, etc., and have it all feed automatically to my main blog’s sidebar.
Magazines are also getting in on Tumblr. Newsweek incorporated Tumblr into the main site, but the blog mostly points back to features and news stories. Still, by embracing the Tumblr culture of short quotes, fun images, and links, the company showed that they didn’t just slap something together. The New Yorker is doing something similar on Tumblr. The blog has issue announcements, weekly To-Do lists, links to features, great photos, as well as former covers.
Thinking about starting your own Tumblr blog? Go to it. It’s free, after all. But before you run off, check out the helpful tips for using Tumblr below.
Update 6/18/2011: Recently, Tumblr made some major changes to their Dashboard, UI, and services. We’ve updated these tips to reflect those changes and will continue to do so in the future.
Tumblr recently implemented a native commenting system on its blogs, but replies are limited to the site’s users, only show up on the Dashboard, and only work for primary blogs. Luckily, there is an easy way to add comments that anyone can use via a third-party provider: Disqus.
Because Tumblr makes posting or reblogging links, images, and more so fast and easy, it’s easy to overwhelm your Tumblr followers. Try spacing out posts with the queue feature, which allows users to stagger posts over hours or days.
Static pages can give your readers more in-depth information about yourself and your blog than what you can fit on the sidebar (if you have one). These pages can be useful whether you use Tumblr for pro blogging or just to share your favorite links or images with friends.
Using the same steps for creating static pages, users can also create redirects that will show up on your sidebar just like Page links. You can point users to your other blogs or sites, or any page on the web using your own URL.
How To Post From Your Phone
On the Tumblr Goodies page users can find multiple ways to post to Tumblr on the go, from e-mail to apps for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. However, even if you don’t have a smart phone you can still post while mobile.
How To Import Content From Other Services
Unfortunately, in a recent redesign, Tumblr disabled a previously popular feature that allowed users to import content from other services such as Delicious, Twitter, blogs, and RSS feeds.
Auto-Post Tumblr to Twitter and Facebook
Log in to the Twitter and/or Facebook accounts you want to connect to Tumblr.
How To Promote Your Blog on Tumblr
Spotlight is the most similar to the old Directory as it’s a place where Tumblr staff highlights the best blogs in specific categories. However, unlike the old Directory, users can’t submit their favorite blogs, anymore. To get listed, you’ll have to catch the attention of the staff and get an invite. There are ways you can get your blog noticed without being on the Spotlight page, though.
The Explore page is an ever-changing list of what’s new and hot on Tumblr based on tags. If you add popular tags to your posts (appropriately, of course), they may show up on the Explore page. As Tumblr users can now browse by tag and track the tags they like most, anyone can stumble across a new blog they love. To tag posts:
Looking to make your Tumblr blog as professional as possible? Try using a custom domain name instead of the default yourname.tumblr.com address.