Brand Tantra

Tumblr : Hot Item on Social Media Planning


“Post anything (from anywhere!), customize everything, and find and follow what you love.” It’s really no wonder articulating Tumblr’s platform is difficult. Described as “a blogging platform that doubles as a social network”, it is one of the fastest growing social media networks in the world. Yahoo saw enough promise in the website to pay $1.1 billion for its acquisition only a few weeks ago.

While advertised as a blogging site that allows the sharing of text, links, and quotes, Tumblr is becoming an increasingly visual medium for both media and businesses that are looking to enhance their brand presences and reach younger audiences. Magazines such as Elle, Glamour, and Lucky have all established a presence on the site, using their Tumblr pages as look-books of editors’ current fashion obsessions. Even mainstream outlets including Newsweek and Rolling Stone have cultivated a notable following by posting teasers or tidbits of information that drives traffic to their main sites.

Somebody’s Mother Chocolate Sauce, a small, Texas-based business specializing in chocolate and caramel sauce- has mastered the integration of its Tumblr and website. The company saw more publicity for their brand when a few of its recipes were reblogged by prominent food Tumblrs. One post received close to 200 notes on the site, representing a significant jump from the 5 to 20 notes posts typically received.

So where does Tumblr fit in amongst the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and which businesses should be investing their time and energy into establishing a presence on this platform? Both Facebook and Twitter are widely accepted as the giants of social media; according to a 2012 report on marketing trends, these two sites are the two most popular channels for directing potential clients to company websites (accounting for 54 and 32 percent of this traffic, respectively). Indeed, Facebook pages have sprung up for companies from Coca-Cola to JP Morgan. Because Facebook is so ubiquitous, marketers for every type of product reason that it is a practical platform from which to begin building a social media presence. Tumblr provides the same kind of opportunity in terms of advertising potential, but it is a distinctly more specialized platform. Not every brand works with Tumblr, and even when it can, marketers have to do their research to ensure they are creating content that aligns with the site’s demographics. Tumblr’s audience has been described by many as “edgier”: its demographic targets 18-34 year olds, unlike Facebook, which is growing among boomers and older internet users.

As of April 2012, 340 million tweets appear daily on Twitter; thus, content from individual companies is quickly buried. Tumblr’s dashboard organizes content its users subscribe to like an RSS feed, allowing it to live longer. Additionally, Twitter is somewhat restricted when it comes to media sharing: users can share pictures via Twitpic, but can only tweet links to videos. Tumblr is an open network; unlike Facebook, its content is accessible to anyone. The latter platform, despite thousands of business pages, is still primarily used for closed or semi-closed social networks.

This puts Tumblr in a unique position: its highly versatile interface allows for sites that can integrate images and text seamlessly, and this capability accounts for most of the platform’s growth thus far. While not an end-all for social media, Tumblr is an important channel for brands to connect with audiences and complement their other communications initiatives.

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