How to Successfully use Tumblr for Social Media Marketing

By: Stephanie Barbagallo & Samantha Albano

Tumblr is widely known as a blogging platform and social networking website. Tumblr allows its users to post multimedia as well as other content to a short-form blog. Like other social media platforms, Tumblr users can follow each other as well as make their blogs private. David Karp founded the site in 2007, but as of 2013, Yahoo acquired it for approximately $1.1 billion. Tumblr has over 287 million blogs on its site and has 555 million monthly visitors. On Tumblr’s website it says, “Tumblr empowers people to create something extraordinary. Find and follow the things you love.” About 50 percent of Tumblr users are age 25 or younger. Users can post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from their browser, phone, desktop, or email. Users can also customize everything about their page.

A major way Tumblr users discover each other is by the use of tags. For example, if you post a picture of a dog, you might want to use the tags “dog”, “puppy”, “cute”,
“animals”, etc. Tumblr has an “explore” page where users can see what tags are currently trending and the most popular. They are also able to see trending blogs and trending searches on this page. The site also has a “recommended for you” section, where it recommends different content to users depending on what they follow and like.

Recently, Tumblr announced two changes it made to encourage more conversations and engagement around its content. First, is re-launch of its Replies feature, which was removed several months ago. The company is also bringing out an updated Notes design that will make it easier for the community to follow the comments on a post. The users of Tumblr were not pleased when the Replies feature was removed, so its reappearance will certainly gain recognition and appreciation. Users wanted the option of either leaving a public comment with the Replies feature, as well as the option of having a private conversation. The new version of Replies is actually more conversational than the original. Authors can now reply to their own posts, users can reply multiple times, and users can now reply on reblogs as well as original posts. Users also have the choice of three different settings for how they would like to use the Replies feature on their own blogs: let everyone reply, let only those Tumblr users that they follow and those who are following them reply, or they can use a “Safe Mode”, which means that only Tumblr users you follow are able to reply to your blog posts.

The other great change that Tumblr recently made is the redesign of its “Notes” feature. This feature is the place on the blog where users can see different conversations that are surrounding a post. Originally, Notes was designed to highlight every time someone liked or reblogged a post and displayed it in a long list of “interactions.” In order to find when somebody reblogged with a comment on a popular post, users used to have to scroll through content for a good amount of time. With its new design, Tumblr has moved all the non-conversational commentary at the top – so likes and reblogs that used to just take up an incredible amount of space are now presented in a horizontal list that is on one line. Now, only replies and reblogs with comments will be displayed vertically. Through these two changes, it will be easier for users to read and participate in the conversations of posts.

Yahoo recently lowered its valuation of Tumblr from $990 million in 2013 to $760 million at present. The company has recently removed a barrier for brands buying ads on Tumblr. Brands no longer have to have their own blog on the site.

On Tumblr’s site under the “About” button at the bottom of the page, is a “business” section. When someone clicks on this button, it displays pictures of brands such as Lipton Iced Tea, Aèropostle, Disney, BMW, Delta, etc. as the background with the text saying “Hello, Brands. Welcome to Tumblr. Your biggest fans are already here.” Under that, it gives the option to contact a brand strategist. Through the click of a button, company’s can contact a brand strategist to get their brand on Tumblr. This page also talks about “Why Tumblr?” The site explains how Tumblr is the best place for creators to find an audience for their content – there are over 200 million blogs that publish 80 million posts per day. Tumblr’s dashboard makes it easy for people to discover and share content. 70% of Tumblr users say the Dashboard is their favorite place to spend time online. Tumblr also mentions how brands are welcome as creators themselves with content users want to see. Tumblr is ranked #1 in social sentiment towards brands.

Tumblr has sponsored posts, sponsored video posts and sponsored days. Tumblr’s sponsored posts are just like regular Tumblr posts except they are far more visible to users. These sponsored posts are targeted by gender, location, and interest so content will be visible to users who are more likely to be interested in it. Tumblr’s sponsored video posts are similar to the regular sponsored posts but they have added analytics on views, looping of the video, and engagement. The videos will play automatically and will loop continuously. The player also pops out so people are able to keep watching while they scroll through their dashboard. Tumblr’s sponsored day is when companies can own a day with a cross-platform promotion. They are able to pin their logo and tagline to the top of the dashboard for 24 hours. This will link to an exclusive tab in the Explore page, which is one of the most visited and engaging pages on Tumblr. Companies will be able to use their own posts, reblog posts they’ve liked, or do both. “Whatever story your brand wants to tell, you’ve got a slice of the dashboard to tell it in all day long.”

Some examples of brands that have been successful using Tumblr are Lexus, Whole Foods and Vans. Lexus is known as a luxury auto brand. The company takes a fashion-forward approach with its presence on Tumblr. It uses highly stylized, prominent images and GIFs to appeal luxury automobile seekers. This example shows how cars are able to mimic high-end fashion by targeting a younger audience who is more interested in the design of a vehicle than the performance of it. Lexus used hashtags such as #fashion, #b&w, and #photography to allow users to discover GIFs, photos, and videos more progressively and keeping the brand subtle throughout the whole experience for the users.

Whole Foods is another example of a brand that is successful marketing through Tumblr. Whole Foods does a remarkable job at establishing engagement. They do this by reposting a surplus of material from their followers. This strategy has enabled Whole Food’s magazine Dark Rye to go past the recipe guide to become a blog intended with the clear goal of sharing inspiring works of art – whether these works of art feature food or not.

Vans uses social media as “a mutually beneficial exchange, the brand defines the community and the community defines the brand.” Vans Tumblr page is filled with high quality and creative photos that represent the lifestyle of its customers. Along with the captivating images, Vans also links in its other social media channels in its Tumblr so users can share and interact with the brand across several different social media platforms. On their Tumblr page, users can also see captions under photos as “Get the Look” with links to their products that are seen in the photos. This makes it easier for customers to buy directly from using Tumblr. Vans is successful through Tumblr because they know where their audience hangs out and what their audience is like. Their Tumblr page achieves their goals to create content that users will engage with and share. They embrace their brand image of being rebellious, and having a youthful spirit.

Because Tumblr is so different than other social media platforms and targets a younger generation, it is important to come up with a marketing plan before deciding that Tumblr is the best direction for your brand to go in. It is important for marketers to think about who their audience will be and what the focus behind their blog will be. It is also necessary to create a customer friendly Tumblr Blog. Sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are more for business networking, but Tumblr requires companies to be more creative – a less traditional form of marketing. Tumblr users don’t want to see traditional marketing. They want to see interesting content that doesn’t make it seem like they are being marketed. An example of this would be how on Coca-Cola’s Tumblr they use “happiness is…” in which they share content that will make people happy. It is also important for marketers to focus on a tight niche. Since the content has to be widely creative, it is probably not going to reach everybody. But the people the content does reach will connect with them.

Finally, since Tumblr is not the number one form of social media, not everyone is going to have an account. It is important for marketers who plan to use Tumblr to make their blog posts open to non-Tumblr users. It would be a lot to ask of people to adopt a new platform just to view a brands blog. Companies need to make it as easy as possible to navigate to Tumblr to view their posts.





16 thoughts on “How to Successfully use Tumblr for Social Media Marketing

  1. Molly March 31, 2016 / 2:21 pm

    I think marketing on Tumblr could be very successful for some businesses, but of course there would be some types of struggles. Being able to reach certain demographics on a popular networking site would bring some success to the companies marketing on Tumblr, with the downside being that since a majority of the demographic are young users it may be harder for some of the brands that are more expensive to be successful because younger people can not afford luxurious items. The plus side of this though is that the brand is causing brand awareness in this young age and because of this they may be causing the demographic to want these items in the future.


  2. reganka March 31, 2016 / 4:43 pm

    I agree that the demographics of Tumblr are mostly a younger audience. I think that when taking this into consideration, marketers could effectively use this platform to promote their products and services. It is important to realize that Tumblr does not have as big of a reach as a site like Facebook would have. However, if a company is launching a new product, or wants to get a younger audience interested in their existing product, Tumblr is definitely a platform to consider.


  3. cassidylebert March 31, 2016 / 10:57 pm

    I think that Tumblr has a lot of potential to reach a concentrated demographic of users to its advantage. However, I fear that having to be directed to a separate part of the site solely for businesses may interfere with user traffic.


  4. Meghan Gulbrandsen April 3, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    Marketing on a platform such as Tumblr definitely has great potential, but like with any other social media site, there are pros and cons that come with it. I think there is this potential here because a lot of the times when going onto this site you are going on to scroll through the feed on certain topics and subject matters that interest you. What this means is that you are casually on your phone and are open to stopping to click on an ad that you see if it interests you.


  5. Olivia Sullivan April 4, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    I think that Tumblr would be good for social media marketing because you can apply tags to your photos which will make more people see it when searching for something in common. But Tumblr is mostly used for a younger audience so marketers for their companies would have to try and find ways to seek an older groups attention.


  6. Justin Flory April 6, 2016 / 2:35 am

    Tumblr would be great for a company trying to brand their products or services in a successful way. In a way, Tumblr is similar to Instagram in the sense that it shows a lot of pictures and quotes. Instagram is really popular because of this, so maybe if marketers use this Instagram type idea for Tumblr, they could show more customers and potential customers pictures of their products and teach audiences about their brand. Tumblr is more personable and could help build relationships as Tumbr isn’t as popular as other social media sites. If a customer sees that a company they like is using Tumblr, they might be interested in that brand even more.


  7. Ronald Zampanti April 8, 2016 / 4:01 pm

    Tumblr seems to be more relational and conversational than a lot of other social media channels. It seems to have features from multiple social media platforms such as being able to see what is trending, recommended for you, being able to post, re-post, participate in conversations, etc. I believe this is a good place for brands to market themselves because the age of the majority of Tumblr users are 25 or younger. Brands can reel this generation of users in to become loyal customers. This younger age group is the future and if brands can get these consumers to purchase their products and get in the minds of these consumers, they have the chance of attaining customers who will be able to purchase their products for many years to come.


  8. latikakarnani April 9, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    It’s a blog platform with built-in social functionality and incredible viral potential. So at one hand you have a blog similar to wordpress on the other hand you can use it as social media to share, like and follow. Maybe this is the reason, it attracts younger generation. And maybe this is the more creative and artistic society of younger demographics because they are clearly more into reading and writing. So this gives companies a different set of demographics.


  9. Andie-Jane Phinney April 11, 2016 / 6:20 pm

    I believe Tumblr could be successful as a marketing tool, as well as have some difficulties. The age demographic for Tumblr is a younger audience, so depending on what you are trying to advertise, it could be tough to see a result in sales. With picture and visual advertising being so popular, Tumblr can also be a great way to advertise. Many businesses have already used Tumblr, as we see the examples in the blog post. Pictures are a great way to advertise, and because Tumblr is simple by seeing the pictures by just simply scrolling through the news feed, it allows for exposure. It allows for companies and products to catch the eye of the viewer and hopefully gain an increase in customers and then in sales.


  10. Marisa Harrington April 14, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    I think Tumblr would be a good social media platform in order to target the younger generation. It would be a challenge to target the older generation since many of them don’t even know what Tumblr is. It is a good social media marketing tool because of hashtags.


  11. Meg April 19, 2016 / 5:46 pm

    Tumblr may be a way to reach the generation, but it is going down in user base, as demonstrated by Yahoo lowering its valuation of Tumblr. Tumblr is making it easy for companies to market on the website, with their sponsored posts and business tab. They also offer brand strategists that help companies get their brand on Tumblr. This is a great feature that makes it easy for businesses to best market their organization on the site. Other social media platforms do not offer this help. The site even “explains how Tumblr is the best place for creators to find an audience for their content – there are over 200 million blogs that publish 80 million posts per day. Tumblr’s dashboard makes it easy for people to discover and share content.” This information displays how motivated Tumblr is to having businesses on the site. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that Tumblr is ranked number one in social sentiment towards brands, as marketers often focus on connecting with consumers with nostalgia.


  12. Colleen Flynn April 24, 2016 / 3:52 am

    I think Tumbler is adopting great features that will make marketing on it successful for certain companies. However, I don’t think they have established or positioned themselves as a strong social media marketing platform. Companies that are looking to start or expand their social media marketing probably would not initially start with Tumbler. Also, because half of Tumbler’s users are under the age of 25. I personally do not have a tumbler and did not know really anything about it prior to this blog. I like the aspect where the blog explains,”through the click of a button, company’s can contact a brand strategist to get their brand on Tumblr.” This is a nice feature for those who may need extra help in building up their Tumbler social media marketing presence. I think Tumbler has a way to go to be a top competitor for social media marketing but no doubt has many advantages and resources to be successful as well.


  13. Hechuan Lou April 28, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    Tumbler as a social media platform provide a lot of marketing opportunities to marketers, and it will be a very good platform for companies to promote their brand and products. However, I also think there are so many similar apps in the market, companies should be careful for their target consumers.


  14. Megan Lac May 6, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    As someone who frequently uses Tumblr the sponsored posts while scrolling through my dashboard are rather annoying, but I do see how they would be very beneficial to marketers. Marketers can put picture content in the middle of our dashboard disguising it as posts from people we follow. I also see how the new reply system works extremely well for marketers trying to track what people are saying about their product. They no longer have to scroll through numerous notes to see the conversation on a post, everything said is in one place.


  15. Derek Lawton May 7, 2016 / 12:45 am

    I sometimes use Tumblr and know that it provides a lot of marketing opportunities and is a great platform for companies to showcase there products. I love the new reply system and how it can track what people are saying. Tumblr is a great social media platform that continues to grow.


  16. Xinran Zuo May 13, 2016 / 5:41 pm

    Tumblr can be the easy term of the blog, I dont quit write or view blogs because of the length, but I do work on Tumblr sometimes, it is for sure that it is more clear than the long blogs, and it could be a good tool in marketing, but unfortunitely it is not as popular as Facebook or twitter, since social media is the database system, this is a minus to Tumblr,


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