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.