Visually grabbing tumblr’s attention

Making a visually engaging, rebloggable piece isn’t a piece of cake. Timing, coloring and content all play into getting noticed.


One of my professors last semester required we read Socialnomics by Erik Qualman. It changed the way I think of social media and interacting with the general public. I want to work online with visual media (hence this blog) and so I need to figure out how to game social media. I’m open with that. I play reddit, tumblr, facebook and twitter as if they were games.

What’s the best way of getting content redistributed? Make the content valuable. The general public wants to pass along content that makes them look good. So don’t just release an image that lists your website name really big. I want you to want to reblog me.

Visual elements

I decided to draw my colors from screenshots. My favorite world was Minnie’s Melodyland. As a result, the colors I pull are mostly from the roads outside MM. I focused on pink because red and other warm tones perform better on female-dominated social networking sites. That’s why every attempt so far has pink and orange as dominant colors.

The fonts are parodies of the typefaces used in Toontown. The game approached type with a whimsical school-child view. As a result, I settled on Marker Felt and Noteworthy. The designer in me is screaming over how much they resemble Comic Sans MS, but the audience director is doing her best to smother the former. I’m pretty confident in this typeface choice so far.

The first attempt

toontownrewrittenThis eyesore was my first attempt to reach the public. I didn’t aim for pretty or clever. My goal was timely.

When something starts to trend, that’s like a countdown clock. If you don’t release your related content fast, someone else will cover your angle. Then, eventually, the public’s interest will wain altogether with the topic.

You want to be quick and efficient. I figured I would include my url on the bottom and the top, for the users’ reference to get up to date information. In the description, it has a link to the pdf and my blog.

The result was overwhelming. To date, this is my most popular tumblr post. As of now, it has 52 notes.

The post is here.

Round 2

The first post took off so fast that I didn’t have time to figure out if it was the timeliness or the necessity that made it skyrocket. Considering the first piece was supposed to be a trial and never permanent, I released a second attempt.

tt1 tt2

I decided to get a little bit more in depth with these two. They’re a couple and they’re supposed to work together. I knew when I made them that I would need more than two pieces. When I was done with them, I knew they failed.

I published them in the morning and their popularity never snowballed. That’s ok though, because they’re hideous and terribly executed. The boxes on boxes idea wasn’t good and I’m ok with never revisiting this setup. I didn’t fail, I just found out a way this didn’t work.

Their tumblr post is here.

My magnificent scrolls

My journey ends at the most recent leg of the story, the scroll attempt. For now, this is as far as I’ve gotten. I’m pretty proud of how they look.

ttr1 ttr2 ttr3 ttr4

If you’re not familiar with ToonTown Online, you won’t get this reference (or any of the aforementioned visual cues), but this is a direct nod to the quests. Quests were conveyed by scrolls in a book (it made sense somehow). Anyways, the scrolls had script-looking text on them and would expand as you hover over them.

I decided to play with the scroll idea and use it as a template for my graphics. The idea was pretty successful. I believe players would be able to recognize the reference, and it’s visually appealing even if they didn’t.

Unfortunately, this post didn’t do very well. I’m blaming this on interest waning. As of now, it has 32 notes on it. I am going to base future attempts off this template. The post is here.

Looking forward

This exercise helped me figure out what not to do (see all of attempt #2). Moving forward, I need to consider a few things:

  • graphics and illustrations
  • in-depth information
  • better text description that isn’t just a link back here

I’m excited to expand and elaborate on these. When I do, I’ll let you guys know all about it!


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