Tumblr may be beloved by creative agencies, but good luck giving clients evidence how all those cat GIFs translate into raising brand awareness. Until now. On Thursday Tumblr named Union Metrics as its preferred third-party analytics tool, making it the first social analytics firm to receive the microblogging site’s blessing to track and analyze content across the platform.
Previously if brands and agencies wanted to track their Tumblr performance, they were reduced to workarounds like adding their blogs to Google Analytics, which could ham-handedly measure site traffic but not Tumblr-specific metrics like reblogs or likes. By opening up Tumblr’s black box, Union Metrics is able track how a Tumblr post performs and propagates across the platform, and brands can use its tools to spot trends and influential users on specific topics.
By licensing Tumblr’s firehose through the platform's exclusive data provider  Gnip, on an average day Union Metrics digs into 100 million data points spanning posts, reblogs and likes, said Union Metrics CEO Hayes Davis. “Every public activity being generated from Tumblr, we bring into our system,” he said.
While Union Metrics’ Tumblr analytics platform is only available on an invite-only basis for now—Davis pegged a full public launch for November—the company has been testing it with several brands and letting marketers finally see how the social platform stacks up.
For example, the August finale of ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars notched  1.6 million tweets, and Davis said it generated similar engagement levels on Tumblr, with millions of reblogs and likes. And Adidas was able to see that some random user took a screengrab from one of the brand’s commercials, spun it into an animated GIF (Tumblr’s bread-and-butter content format) and received 90,000 reblogs and likes in two weeks “with no promotion or anything else” by Adidas, said Davis.
But perhaps more valuable to brands, and particularly their creative agencies, is tracking how their own content spreads across the site. In the case of President Obama’s Tumblr response to Clint Eastwood’s empty-chair monologue (dialogue?) at the Republic National Convention, that single post generated nearly 60,000 reblogs, which if printed out would span longer than two tennis courts, Davis said.
But it’s not like only followers of the president’s Tumblr reblogged the post. Union Metrics tracked 110 generations, which means that one person reblogged the president’s original post, then someone reblogged that reblog and on and on, rippling to someone 110 degrees removed from the original post. What now, Kevin Bacon?