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A Marketer’s Guide to Tumblr: The Microblogging Basics

In just 4 years Tumblr has become the third most popular blogging platform – beat out only by WordPress and Blogger. Tumblr is a microblogging site with over 26 million active users, and it’s growing by a quarter billion impressions each week, according to its founder, David Karp. That’s a pretty HUGE market that you and your company could be targeting!

Businesses already have a slew of social media sites to maintain, so maybe you’re thinking, “Why Tumblr?” Well, Tumblr provides 30 reasons on their site – among them: mobileability, Google optimization, group and community submission capabilities, and a post queue.

What is Tumblr?

According to the site’s About page, “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be.”

The microblogging site is referred to by itself and its users as “The easiest way to blog.” It is known and loved for its clean and simple interface. But, when first starting out on the platform, it can seem like a foreign language. So I have created a “Tumblr for Dummies” guide to make things a little easier. (Click to enlarge):

Tumblr makes it easy to share photos, videos, links, and text – photos being the most common. You can share a photo or video with a brief description rather than a full blog post, which allows for more frequent posts. You can also generate content by reblogging other relevant posts or by accepting submissions from fans.

The site’s queue is by far the most useful tools for marketers. No one expects you to blog day in and day out in addition to maintaining your company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube accounts. With the queue, you can set up original, submitted, and reblogged posts to publish across any given time span. So, in theory, you could set up all of your posts for one week, and only have to check in to your account once a week!

Ok…so how are marketers using Tumblr?

Now that you have the gist of the site, let’s go over some companies that are using it to boost their brand.

The ‘90s Are All That – In a previous blog, I discussed how Teen Nick’s The ‘90s Are All That is using Tumblr. While The ‘90s Are All That does not have its own account, they stream a live feed of the tag #90sAreAllThat on their site during the time that ‘90s Are All That airs. This allows anyone who visits the Teen Nick website to view a feed of fan-generated content related to the segment – creating a closer community.

Huggies – Since this platform allows users to create custom domain names, the Huggies Tumblr is known as highchaircritics.com. Highchair Critics appeals to the growing population of mommy bloggers. The Huggies page shares photos and videos of adorable babies, features popular products, and holds contests. So no, the Huggies microblog is not all about diapers. It features tips, tricks, and stories about all things baby – something that any past, present, or future parent can appreciate!

Johnny Cupcakes – Johnny Cupcakes is an example of an online retailer. He sells apparel and accessories, and this is the perfect platform for any small retailer because it makes featuring specific products simple. No one wants to read an entire 400 word blog post about one T-shirt, but a photo with a brief description is enough to highlight any given product. Retailers can also benefit from Tumblr because fans can easily submit photos of themselves wearing or promoting your brand.

Elle Magazine – Tumblr is the perfect match for a fashion magazine like Elle. Since photos are the most-shared posts on the social site, Elle is able to post frequent photos of models, magazine covers, the latest trends, and even everyday people wearing high fashion on streets all over the world – or, “Street Chic.” It allows the folks at Elle to share supplemental content and give sneak previews of what’s to come in future issues.

The key to Tumblr is to publish frequent, creative posts, and to encourage interaction with your followers. Tumblr is easy to use, easy to maintain on a strict time schedule, and creates a close-knit, heavily-involved community around your brand. At this point, you should be running out of reasons not to sign up!

What do you think? Do you or your company have a Tumblr? Have you considered using it? What is still keeping you away? Which brands would you enjoy following?



Jenna Markowski

Jenna has a much easier time writing about the media and pop culture than she does writing about herself. She enjoys the simple things in life, like puns and typography. She is an avid fan of pop-punk, Halo 3, Spider-Man and origami, with a slight Taco Bell obsession. Her spirit animal is either a bulldog or a panda bear. You can also connect with Jenna on Google+ and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Jill Tooley

    What a comprehensive resource, Jenna! Thank you very much. With all of the dozens of social networks and “must-get” sites out there, it’s tough to keep up with all of the ins and outs of each one. But it seems like you really know your stuff when it comes to Tumblr! :)

    You mentioned that you can set up posts to publish during the week so you really only have to check your account once in awhile – do you have your account set up this way? What are the benefits of doing it on a semi-automated basis instead of in “real time”? Also, I’ve seen some Tumblr accounts with real domain names (as in, no mention of Tumblr in the URL) – do you think it’s better for companies to do it that way, or is it okay either way?

  2. Rachel

    Thanks for this, Jenna! I recently started using Tumblr and, while I’ve learned my way around it, it’s always nice to have a primer like this to see what I’ve missed. :)

    One of the Tumblrs I follow is the official Doctor Who blog (http://doctorwho.tumblr.com). It’s pretty awesome; they reblog a bunch of fan-made stuff, as well as official news and behind-the-scenes photos and videos. In the last few weeks, while the show has been on hiatus, they’ve been posting a question a day about the show (who’s your favorite character, etc.) and then reblogging the results from their followers. They’re very casual, very much part of the community–I sometimes forget that there’s an “official” presence behind them. Their constant involvement with the Doctor Who fans on Tumblr keeps me excited about the show, even when it isn’t on the air. Definitely a brand that knows what it’s doing on Tumblr!

    • Jenna Markowski

      I’m glad that this was helpful, Rachel!

      That is a great example! Sites that include/encourage a lot of fan involvement end up with the best following. It’s great that this blog has a little bit of everything — fan-made art, feedback, and special sneak peeks and previews! They’re embracing all of the things that Tumblr does best! :)

  3. Jenna Markowski

    Thanks, Jill! :)

    I don’t use the queue to set up posts a week in advance, but I do use it to set up posts for overnight and while I’m here at QLP! The reason that I do that is because a lot of times people will unfollow blogs that don’t post frequently — I know that I do. If someone hasn’t posted in the past week, I usually unfollow. SO for companies that have a lot of of other social sites on their hands, the queue would come in handy for staying active on Tumblr without actually logging in. As far as the domain names go, I think it works either way. It all depends on the company, I suppose. I’ve seen both, and at least in my opinion, it doesn’t really make a difference.

  4. Jen

    What a wonderfully informative post Jenna! Thank you!

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Jen! :)

      • Amanda

        Agreed! Did anyone else check out all of the themes they have? Some of them are pretty sweet! Reminds me of how decorative you could get with Myspace.

        • Jenna Markowski

          Exactly, Amanda! Especially because you can even customize each theme with HTML! :)

  5. amy

    Great post Jenna! I’ve heard of Tumblr, but really had no idea what it was or how to use it. Your dummies guide is sooo helpful!! I can’t wait to see which of my favorite brands has one to follow :)

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Amy! I’m glad that the guide was helpful! Let me know when you find some good ones! :D

  6. Mandy Kilinskis

    I think I’ve started about 5 different Tumblrs over the years and never quite stuck with it. It’s user-friendly and fun to use…looks like I need to step up and start really getting into it.

    P.S. Am I the only one that feels exhausted by keeping up with all her social media accounts?

    • amy

      You’re not alone mandy!!

      • Ness

        Like/+1/digg/RT/etc

  7. Jenna Markowski

    Tumblr is the best ever for sucking up time and finding hilarious jokes on the internet. I highly recommend it not only for professional purposes, but also just for fun!

    And no, you are not the only one! Hence my lack of tweets…

  8. Joseph Giorgi

    Excellent breakdown, Jenna! I can understand why Tumblr is so appealing, and I’m not surprised to find out that it’s enjoyed such a steady climb in popularity over the past couple of years to reach the #3 spot.

    You’re right — it’d be foolish for forward-thinking companies NOT to give it a shot at this point. After all, it couldn’t hurt.

    Great post! :)

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Joe! I wouldn’t be surprised if over the next couple of years Tumblr surpasses at least Blogger. I doubt it will ever snag that #1 spot from WordPress, but hey, the times are changin’!

      Exactly! Tumblr is extremely low maintenance and it doesn’t take too much work to generate posts, so even if you start posting and decide that it’s not the right fit for your company, there won’t be too much time wasted trying it out! :)

  9. Amanda

    Nice post Jenna! I wasn’t sure what all you could use Tumblr for, now I know, thanks! I can see how businesses could get good use of this site. Thanks for all the 411! =)

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Amanda! And you’re welcome! I could talk about Tumblr all day (and most of the times I do)! :D

  10. Alvaro

    Awesome article.

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