For those not in the know, Tumblr is an incredibly popular microblogging platform where users can post content of all kinds—video, text, pictures, music, and more. Personally, I have had a Tumblr since 2010; I adore it as a creative outlet and a means to discover new things. While my Tumblr is just for fun, all of the big five publishing houses, most of their imprints, and many small, midsized, and independent publishing houses have Tumblr accounts. Ooligan has been operating its Tumblr since 2013. For the latest Ooligan book, Memories Flow in Our Veins, we created a new Tumblr, Memories Anthology, dedicated solely to the book as part of a marketing strategy and social media experiment.
In the initial proposal for creating the Tumblr account, the purpose was outlined to market the book, create an engaging and interactive site, distribute feminist-oriented content that leads back to Ooligan, and explore the potential of Tumblr and the effectiveness of a sub-blog connected to the Ooligan account. Basically, the goal was to create an interesting site with literary and feminist content that reached beyond the typical audience of the main Ooligan Press blog. The four goals outlined in the proposal were:
- Market Memories utilizing posts and tags, and following and engaging with the many robust feminist communities on Tumblr.
- Increase the online visibility of Memories and Ooligan Press during our awareness campaign, which coincides with Women’s History Month.
- Cultivate an intellectual space surrounding female writers and feminism to generate interest in Memories and contextualize it in the trend towards diversity in reading/writing/publishing.
- Explore the potential and effectiveness of book-focused sub-Tumblrs for future use by other Ooligan project teams.
To meet all of these goals, the Memories Tumblr has a wide variety of posts, including quotes from women writers; articles on gender, sexuality, diversity, and feminism; pictures of books, libraries, and other reading; and of course, information about the book. The Tumblr campaign was active for roughly eighty days before activity on the blog halted. Over the course of that time, the Tumblr account accrued a total of twenty-two followers, which by Tumblr standards is a pitifully small number. To add salt to that wound, over half of the followers were current Ooligan students who were instructed to follow the account. The Memories team identified interesting feminist and literary content with which to populate the blog, amassing 377 posts which gained a total of ninety-five likes and reblogs. Again, rather small numbers considering our attempt to expand our audience.
Part of my work for the Tumblr account was to reach out to other popular feminist, LGBT, and book Tumblrs to submit information about, and images of, Memories Flow in Our Veins in hopes of gaining coverage. After many submissions and no replies, success! Queer Book Club included Memories in a roundup of 10 Queer Books Out in April. Seeing results, even a single post, was incredibly rewarding, especially because of the amazing titles Memories was placed next to. This positive feedback would have reinvigorated my efforts, but the post came out a few days after the Tumblr campaign came to a close.
It has been frustrating to put so much effort into writing the proposal, creating and designing the website, finding and managing content, and reaching out to other Tumblr users only to achieve minimal results and have the site become inactive. From the beginning it was planned that the Tumblr would stop being updated shortly after the publication of Memories, but it is difficult to see all the work I’ve done simply fall into disuse. But, despite the frustrations and minimal success of the Memories Tumblr, a lot was learned that can be applied to the Ooligan Press Tumblr. For example, the effort to gain and engage followers is ultimately futile if the blog is temporary, so it seems more productive to apply those same efforts to the Ooligan Tumblr instead. Additionally, followers seemed to enjoy (via likes and reblogs) a wide variety of content, which is something the Ooligan Tumblr currently struggles with. Visual content—especially book images, illustrations, and paintings—was especially popular with the Memories followers. So follow the Ooligan Press Tumblr now if you want to see if these new ideas are put into action.