“UK in USA” on Tumblr

UK in USA

The British Embassy in Washington and the US Network of Consulates use Tumblr to reach new and growing audiences. Tumblr is now one of the ten most popular sites in the US and currently has a worldwide audience of 170 million people.

 

Objective:

Engage an actively growing community by using visuals to tell our story across a range of topics crossing the security and prosperity agendas, including; UK-US ties, showcasing the best of Britain, and supporting British nationals during times of crisis.

 

Activity:

The UKinUSA Tumblr was managed from Washington by the Head of Digital Diplomacy, Scott Nolan Smith, with content contributed from across the US Network including Washington, Chicago and New York. Content was also shared from other UK government channels – including MoD, FCO, UKTI and others.

To best engage on the platform, the Embassy optimized content by going visual –using a photo or graphic to tell a story or highlight a connection – and then using text to provide additional context or further reinforce the messaging. This proved very successful with the GREAT campaign, London 2012, and the Diamond Jubilee. Additionally, we have been able to promote UK-US defence ties with photos of British Armed Forces working in the US, and American and UK forces working and training together.

The use of photos has really been the key to our success, creating a solid following who frequently re-shared our messaging to their followers.

The Embassy also used the platform to share important details during crises. During hurricanes and other events, we shared weather maps, charts, and links back to local resources to keep our followers – especially British nationals in the region – more informed about what is going on.

Seeking out others is a key way to build your presence and further your reach.

In addition, we have concentrated on trends and tags to further our reach. Tumblr hosts curated pages based on topics and Tumblr-approved editors choose content to feature based on what they view as relevant content. ‘Featured Tags' generally surround key topics on Tumblr or major events (e.g. an election, CMJ Music Marathon in New York, SXSW, and Olympics). In this way, our content has been featured on the Fashion, News, Art, CMJ, Education, and other Featured Tag pages. This increased the Embassy’s visibility on the platform and the reach of our individual posts.

Seeking out others is a key way to build your presence and further your reach.

There are also a high number of media outlets, charities and NGOs with a presence on Tumblr. Following relevant blogs and receiving likes & re-blogs from these groups also expanded our influence and presence. The Embassy has received re-blogs from NPR, National Journal, Mother Jones, The Times of London, Tumblr staffers, individual influencers with large Tumblr followings, and others.

 

Outcome:

The response to the Embassy’s presence on Tumblr has been positive.

The UKinUSA Tumblr has surpassed 23,000 followers in just 16 months.

It is currently the Embassy’s most followed social channel, having recently surpassed the @UKinUSA Twitter channel. Individual posts receive likes and re-blogs from the community, some receiving hundreds of likes and/or re-blogs. Followers also regularly note their surprise to find the Embassy on Tumblr and express their appreciation of their engagement and sharing via the platform.

Further, Tumblr recognized the Embassy as a unique government presence early on, listing the UKinUSA Tumblr on the Government and Politics Tumblr Spotlight page.

Politics and Government Tumblr

 

Evaluation:

London 2012 Mascots

The use of Tumblr allows the Embassy to engage with a new and demographically different audience. It has proven we can share creative content and new content mediums with success – especially visuals. However, not all visuals do well. Posed photos, group shots, and the traditional posed government photo-ops do not travel as well. Creative, clever, and behind the scenes photos carry well, in addition to some off-the-wall approaches. For example, a photo of our London 2012 mascots (miniature stuffed versions) hanging out at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC travelled extremely well. It was impromptu but clever tool to promote Olympic messaging.

The UKinUSA Tumblr has surpassed 23,000 followers in just 16 months.

Further, this approach allows us to be more creative in how we think about and use our other channels including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Each has seen growth when we applied some of the lessons from Tumblr. Conveniently, it is also easy to share links to our Tumblr posts from these platforms and other platforms to Tumblr, helping to promote multiple platforms across one another. For example, Instagram photos can be shared directly to Tumblr and Tumblr creates automatic short-urls to share posts via Twitter, which appear as interactive media on Twitter, increasing click rates and engagement.

One of the greatest challenges has been content. Tumblr requires a great deal of good and diverse visual content. This can be hard to come by. We adapted by encouraging colleagues across the United States to take more photos of events and in everyday life. We also worked with partners inside and outside of government to bolster our content. In addition, the built-in ability to have saved drafts in Tumblr means we could collect ‘evergreen’ content in bursts and save it for later, ready to go in a single click when we need it.