Tumblr for Arts Schools Admissions – Tips from University of the Arts

Before I dive into the post I have to say my biggest pet peeves in marketing are: 1. Marketers try to join every social network under the sun and 2. Marketers disregard their unique brand and business situation when evaluating which platforms “make sense” to participate in.

Although Tumblr has been around for a few years it wasn’t until I ran into Lou Perseghin, the Social Media Coordinator from University of the Arts, who shared how he utilizes the platform to reach artistic high-school students. We met last month during a Hootsuite University Twitter chat, and he shared how great the engagement has been from their admissions presence on Tumblr.

What is Tumblr and Who Uses it?

For those not familiar, Tumblr is a “microblogging” platform and social networking site founded in 2007. Since then, the site has grown to 13.4 million unique visitors and houses over 46 million blogs.  – http://www.tumblr.com/about

It’s a popular platform for creatives, bloggers, and teenagers. Think of it as a mix between Twitter and a typical Blog. Because Tumblr is a visual-heavy medium, things are often “re-blogged” from user to user to share art, fashion and inspiration.

  • Like: A simple heart icon that the user can click on to add it to their favorite posts. Some users’ Tumblr blogs will show what posts they’ve liked on others’ blogs.
  • Re-blog: Taking a user’s post and re-posting it on your own blog, with or without further comment. This will cause the post to appear in your dashboard, to your followers, and if you have automated “post to Twitter” on, you’ll tweet out a link to it on your blog.

His goal with Tumblr is to engage students at the top of the funnel searching for arts schools by building a “soft touch” relationship by liking or re-blogging posts from prospective students. According to Louis, although Facebook is the dominant social identity for most high-school students, they rarely randomly stumble upon your Facebook presence during their college search.

With the “top of the funnel” in mind and a visually engaging medium at his fingertips, Lou has defined a content strategy and frequency that he was willing to share with us.

Tumblr Tips and Takeaways

Lou tries to post 2 to 3 times a day and although this may be too frequent for a Facebook page, the Tumblr medium allows you to update content in a way that won’t annoy your followers. The types of content he posts focuses around 3 core areas:

  1. Photos of places and art from the Philadelphia area
  2. Highlighting images/work of current students
  3. Responding to and re-posting questions and excitement from prospective students

In reponse to #3 Lou says, “The goal is to interact with them in some way, so usually we will go in there and favorite any post a student makes. We just want to show them ‘hey we’re here’.” He rarely direct messages people or all out re-blogs their posts, because students are in a fragile time during the college application process.

If a student says “I’m so nervous today for my Uarts audition”, you don’t want to reblog that for all your audience to see. You need to understand in what context you should engage with a student, and in what context they’d prefer to engage with you. Contrary to prospective students who you may not have a relationship with, re-blogging current student content is a great way to show off student artwork for all of your audiences.

Although there are numerous social links integrating their Tumblr account with their other platforms, they do not autopost everything they do on Tumblr to Twitter or Facebook. Although autofeeds may be tempting, you should tailor your content for each network uniquely.

Measuring and Monitoring for Success

Because Lou has only been in the position for about 6 months, they still haven’t nailed down the exact measurement or results. However there are already some preliminary success stories. In an experiment to test the waters in promotion, Lou sent out a message on Tumblr and Twitter where he received 15 signups.

While we recommend schools experimenting with various networks, make sure you have some sort of success metric in mind before you attempt in getting involved in every social network under the sun. Keep in mind your target audience, and make sure your initiatives aline with your institution’s brand and objectives.

  • Anonymous

    Tumblr is a decent solution for this, but for Art, Deco and Design students, they mainly need to share or discover images, Decospire.com is another concept…