If you’re a Tumblr user – like, an avid Tumblr user – you’ve probably noticed that some of the blogging website’s most popular posts aren’t actually… good.
They’re called shitposts and people love them.
What’s a shitpost, you might ask?
According to KnowYourMeme.com (yes, that’s a real and surprisingly helpful website), shitposting is “an Internet slang term describing a range of user misbehaviors and rhetoric on forums and message boards that are intended to derail a conversation off-topic.”
A Tumblr shitpost, however, takes that same form of misbehavior – words or ideas that are out of place or make zero sense – and turns it into a short blog post that gets circulated around the website at lightning speed.
The TL;DR definition of a shitpost is this: It’s so stupid, but makes you laugh so hard, to the point that you probably feel angry.
Why are shitposts so popular?
Because the Internet is a place for weird stuff, that’s why. But for real: Perhaps we can point to the popularity of purposefully bizarre Twitter bots (such as @Horse_ebooks, may it rest in peace) for this specific type of shitty content.
Known for its absurd, nonsensical tweets (see below), Horse ebooks was everybody’s favorite Twitter account until its abrupt departure.
Okay, so Twitter bots gave people a glimpse of shitposts. But when did this taste for extreme absurdity transfer over to Tumblr?
Two words: hte spagheti.
This, right here, might be the original shitpost. Maybe not the first, but definitely the one that spread like wildfire, inspiring a whole new wave of nonsensical posting among Tumblr users that’s far beyond dumb. It’s absurd.
Does the original poster really have a memory of their mom coming home and making spaghetti, then breaking out in an excited boogie? Probably not. But is it still funny, purely because it’s so strange? Definitely.
What differentiates a shitpost from a regular dumb post?
Lucky for us, some Tumblr users have put serious thought into this.
A regular dumb post, at the end of the day, actually has a clever, intentional joke underneath it all. Take this, for example:
This post combines two things that are funny on their own: Goofy’s voice, and the immensely popular “why you always lying” Vine that became a hit after Taylor Swift claimed Kanye West’s 2004 album The College Dropout was the first album she ever bought when she was 12. (She was 12 in 2002.)
The idea of Goofy singing this little clip is funny, and we understand why it’s funny. Case closed.
A shitpost, however, is so incoherent that it almost makes you angry about the fact that you find it funny.
What might you find in a shitpost?
Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of shitposts you’ll often find on Tumblr:
- The Group Effort
Because sometimes, it’s that second contribution that really brings out the shittiness.
Way to change the original poster’s mind, basicallybeesus!
The first part of this post easily could’ve stayed in dumb post territory. The addition from the second user, however, packages up the deal. That misspelling = classic shitpost.
- The “What on Earth Compelled You to Post This”
At what point did you think that this was some advice you needed to share with the Internet today?
Don’t ask questions, oboebandgeek99. Just don’t.
- The “I’m Not Even Going to Try to Understand”
Oh? Okay then.
- The Last Thing You Were Expecting
Sometimes, shitposts take an unexpected turn.
Are you angry yet?
Bonus: Shitpost Generator
This real Tumblr blog, described as a “JAVA program who’s [sic] purpose is to churn out the worst posts imaginable,” cranks out shitposts all day long, because some human told it to.
If you insist.
What do we have to gain from paying attention to this dumb stuff?
Glad you asked. Besides being shitty, here’s what all these posts have in common: The amount of notes. Look at them. That’s probably more engagement than most brands get in a week.
It’s no secret that brands are often caught up in the question of how to engage with millennials, but I’m not about to suggest that every brand overhaul their digital strategy in favor of shitposting. (Please don’t do that.)
The lesson, however, is that the best way to capture the attention of young people is to surprise them with something they’ve never seen before.
One brand that’s done a remarkably good job with this is Denny’s. Yes, really. Denny’s isn’t necessarily an institution you’d associate with the brunch-Instagramming generation that we call millennials. But millennials love a good social media phenomenon, and boy, was this a phenomenon.
People love weird Denny’s tweets:
And they rack up just as much engagement on Tumblr:
When weird Denny’s tweets first started to circulate, their social media team had everyone’s attention, and they managed to keep it. Posts like these garner enthusiasm because they stand out among more generic, predictable forms of messaging. People don’t necessarily remember the content of a shitpost, but they remember when a certain brand’s unexpectedly entertaining social media strategy provides them with a good laugh.
Of course, this type of messaging doesn’t fit every brand’s style. That’s cool. For the sake of fluency in Internet trends, though, it’s at least a good idea to pay attention to posts like these, and to try to identify what makes them a hit.
In the meantime, don’t post the same week-old meme every other brand is tweeting about this week. Do something a little out of the blue, and you might just be surprised with the results.
Have a favorite shitpost? Share it in the comments below, and we’ll be grateful for the laugh.