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Tumblr for Libraries & Archives: Connecting with Users

A guide containing practical advice, tips, and applications for libraries and archives looking to use Tumblr.

Tools for Connecting

Connecting with fellow institutions and individuals is one of the most important and enjoyable parts of running a Tumblr blog.

Tumblr makes it very easy to reach out to others through the following tools:

  • Follow: if you find a Tumblr blog of interest, "follow" it and its posts will show up in your dashboard
    • Keep an eye out for fellow institutions to follow (for example, libraries, archives, special collections, research centers, historical societies)
      • Finding out what materials are held in other institutions is helpful for reference work
    • Make a point to follow individuals
      • Individuals oftentimes become the most dedicated supporters of your blog
  • Like: if you enjoy a particular post, “like” it by clicking the heart
    • Quick way of showing others that you are active online and engaged in their content
  • Reply - leave a comment/answer by clicking the reply bubble on a post
    • You may begin replying to posts after you have followed a user for two weeks
    • If after two weeks you still don't see a reply bubble, it probably means that the user does not allow comments on their posts
    • Replies may be as simple as "Thanks for sharing!" or "Great photo!"
    • Be sure to enable replies on your own blog to encourage interaction with others
      • Enable replies by going to Account Settings => Replies
  • Reblog: share content you come across on other Tumblr blogs
    • Reblogging is one of the best means of strengthening your ties within the Tumblr community. Whether or not you add your own commentary to a particular post, the very act of reblogging communicates a message of support to the originating user.
  • Ask: send questions and allow others to send you questions
    • Enable "Ask" by going to Account Settings => Ask
    • "Ask" will appear as a button or link on a blog's main page
    • Questions submitted through the Ask feature will appear in your Mailbox
    • As your blog's reputation grows, this feature may become a source of many reference questions
    • Some viewers of your blog may not feel comfortable identifying themselves when they ask a question, so be sure to allow anonymous questions
  • Submit: encourage users to become involved with your blog by allowing them to submit posts
    • Posts submitted by users will appear in your Mailbox
    • It's your decision whether or not the content gets published on your blog
    • Submissions are an optional feature on Tumblr. To enable them, go to your Account Settings => Submissions => Let people submit posts

Instant Messaging

Previously, Tumblr allowed its users to send messages to one another via a Fan Mail feature. In November 2015, Tumblr replaced Fan Mail with an instant messaging feature. Messages sent earlier with Fan Mail will remain active, but for any future communication with other Tumblr users, you must use the instant messaging feature. Access instant messaging by clicking the smiley balloon icon at the top of your dashboard or selecting the smiley balloon icon on any blog in the upper right corner. When you compose a message, it will appear as follows with the blog you are contacting appearing at the top.

Instant Messaging Tumblr


A couple of key guidelines to keep in mind whilst communicating on Tumblr:

  • Be friendly
    • Send an instant message to other Tumblr users to introduce yourself, express your interest in their blog content, and/or ask for tips on how they run their blog
  • Express your appreciation
    • Did someone write a nice comment on your post or reblog it? Did they send you a complimentary message via Tumblr's instant message? Thank them for their time and support in a message.
  • Respond promptly to users' answers/comments
    • If you ask a question, be sure to answer it in a timely manner. There's nothing worse than leaving your audience waiting after they have taken the time to leave their answers. Answering promptly indicates that you are active online and dependable.
  • Make a point to consistently share content from other users
    • Sharing others' content is great for building community as well as a strong rapport with followers, especially fellow institutions.