rynling: (Mog Toast)
[personal profile] rynling
I've been attempting to study how Tumblr works for the past two years, and this is what I've got.

Sunday evening from 6:00pm to 8:30pm EST/EDT is the best time to post something on Tumblr. Wednesdays and Thursdays also get a high volume of traffic, with the window between 7:00pm to 10:00pm being particularly active. The trick is to try to catch the sweet spot when both the East Coast and the West Coast/Latin America people will see your work, and hopefully the reblogs will keep the post spreading until the people in Europe are active.

Only the first five tags of any given post "count," meaning that the post will only appear on the searches and feeds for those tags. All additional tags will only function to help organize content within the individual blog itself (or to serve as commentary).

A post will not appear on searches or tags if it contains a link to a website outside of Tumblr that has not been vetted by the admin overlords. AO3, Dreamwidth, Patreon, Instagram, DeviantArt, and Wordpress seem to be fine.

When posting images, the ideal pixel width is 540 or 1080, and 1280 on certain themes. The maximum pixel width is 1920. If you post at another pixel width, Tumblr will resize the image and make it look fuzzy. Always try to post images as "image" posts, because many themes distort the images of "text" and "ask" posts when they are reblogged.

In terms of the attention any given post receives, I'm starting to suspect there's something of a chain effect that happens with likes and reblogs, but not in the obvious way of "more people seeing a thing equals more notes." What follows is nothing more than speculation, but...

I wrote earlier (link) about the social dynamics of reblogging on Tumblr, but I think the platform itself privileges content that has been liked or reblogged and thus vetted by certain "magnet blogs," which may or may not actually have a lot of followers. A "magnet blog" is one of the blogs that appears in the "recommended" section of your dash if you search, track, or start using a certain tag, and it's identified by the Tumblr algorithm as being identified with that tag. What this means is that, if you tag a post with a certain tag, and then one of the magnet blogs reblogs your post with the same tag, it's much more likely to appear in the recommended posts (on both the website and the mobile app) of anyone who has ever liked or reblogged anything with that tag, even if the end user has never actually used the tag on their own blog before.

Based on my observations, a like or reblog from a magnet blog seems to be the difference between a post getting 200 notes and a post getting 2,000 notes. This is basically social networking via algorithm, which means that you can never know who the "right" person to like or reblog your post is at any given time or in any given situation. If I had to guess, I might submit the hypothesis that megapopular (with 50k+ followers) fan art and fandom hub blogs often function as magnet blogs for the tags they use. I know from experience that this is not always true, however, and in any case it would be difficult to prove (partially because of the observer effect that influences any experiment in the social sciences).

When it comes to how many notes any given post on Tumblr will get, then, timing and formatting – not to mention creativity, skill, and consistency – are important, as is having a strong social network. But there are other major contributing factors that are... not random, exactly, but extremely difficult to control or predict.
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