What Tumblr @Mentions Mean for Publishers

Tumblr is taking a page from the Twitter handbook and finally allowing its users to @ mention each other directly. Facebook and Instagram adopted the feature years ago, and now, the nearly 7-year-old, Yahoo-owned microblogging platform is finally jumping on board.

Tumblr announced the new feature in a staff post on Tuesday, accompanied by (what else?) a handy GIF that shows exactly how it works.

The mentions work in the exact same way that they do on Facebook and Twitter, and users will be notified on their Dashboards and “Activity” feeds whenever they are tagged. While this addition will be fun for Tumblr fandoms, friendships, follow forevers, and crush lists, brands and publishers should also be on the lookout for new opportunities to engage with customers and readers across the (dash)board.

It will be exciting to see how notoriously interactive users embrace the feature, from Entertainment Weekly and the BBC America show, to new media companies like My Damn Channel, to journalists such as Brooklyn Mutt and ShortFormBlog who bring news blurbs to the GIF-crazed masses.

How Content Marketers Should Approach @ Mentions

Of course, to truly embrace this feature, brand publishers will have to think about the platform in the right way. In her talk advising brands on how to use Tumblr at Social Data Week 2013, Tumblr’s VP of Product Danielle Strle cited this Forbes quote: “Facebook is the Internet’s phone book. Twitter is its wire service. In Tumblr, 26-year-old Karp has built the Web’s canvas.” This new feature will make the platform’s canvases more connected, community-oriented, and interactive, whether you’re fangirling over the “Doctor Who” finale or leveraging the platform to make people around the world go nuts over your pancakes.


Before this recent @ mention addition, avid Tumblr users had hacked their own ways to include their friends in posts, either through hashtags or by using extension services like Missing E and XKit. Private messages on Tumblr have always come straight to a user’s inbox, but if a blogger decided to answer publicly, as many do, the only way to let the other person know was to include their username in the tags. Then, the person mentioned would have to remember to go back and check the other person’s blog or their tag for the response. Mentions simplify that process greatly.

And with 166 million blogs and a longer average visit time (14 minutes) than Twitter and Facebook, Tumblr is a platform that brands can no longer afford to ignore. Let the social storytelling experiments begin!

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Image by Scott Beale /

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