Virtually everything on the platform can be customized to match a brand’s image, including colors, themes, and HTML coding.
Quantcast reports that the site is most popular with 18- to 34-year-olds, college-educated with no kids, earning up to $50,000 per year, and of Hispanic or Asian background. According to the same data, Tumblr generates high levels of engagement among its users, with 40 percent of visitors accounting for 85 percent of traffic.
Comscore confirms that Tumblr is the No. 2 social platform — right behind Facebook — in terms of visitor engagement. Moreover, Tumblr is highly popular among internet users and is ranked by Quantcast as one of the top 15 sites in the United States, making it an excellent platform for branded content efforts.
Creating and promoting Tumblr content
Despite Tumblr’s popularity, content marketers need to carefully consider certain issues prior to incorporating Tumblr into their content marketing strategy. Your target audience (or at least an economically viable segment) should already be using Tumblr in order to establish meaningful engagement. And though brands may be able to repurpose existing material for use on this platform, providing the type of content this audience wants is no easy task. But, as a general rule, visually appealing and easily consumed content performs best with this audience; thus, content formats that involve photography, design, and other creative endeavors typically do well.
Before building your branded content strategy for Tumblr, get a feeling for what works by visiting some popular Tumblr blogs. The 100 Best Tumblrs of All Time, 30 Must-See Tumblr Blogs, and The Best Tumblr Blogs of 2011 provide a good overview. You’ll notice content that is short and sweet generally works best. While there is quite a bit of original content on the platform, plenty of Tumblrs reblog other people’s content, often adding their own opinions to give it a unique perspective, which makes it an excellent vehicle for putting your brand’s spin on relevant, curated content that will appeal to your audience.
Beyond creating and curating content, brands will also need to promote their Tumblr blog throughout the Tumblr community (as well as across their other content outposts). Commenting, “liking,” and reblogging are three ways to gain exposure within the Tumblr community. Just like a regular blog, commenting builds relationships and provides a link back to your Tumblr blog, and “liking” and reblogging posts also put a link at the bottom of that post to your Tumblr blog (along with your profile photo). All three events allow other Tumblr visitors to discover your content. Tagging photos in your posts also helps visitors to find your blog when they conduct a Tumblr search.
In some respects, a Tumblr blog can also be promoted just as you would a traditional blog — such as by optimizing your posts for SEO by creating custom URLs, using the “alt” attribute on photos, optimizing page titles and meta-descriptions, and creating and submitting a site map to Google.
Successful branded content efforts on Tumblr
Newsweek was one of the first major media outlets to actively employ Tumblr in its marketing strategy. The publication typically posts just a handful of stories every day, in an easily digestible and Tumblr-friendly way. It appeals to a specific market segment of Newsweek’s audience that prefers consuming information in an alternative way.
This post, with over 46,000 notes, provides social proof that what they are doing works.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market customers aren’t just buying organic food; they’re buying a way of living. The company uses Tumblr as an extension of its online magazine Dark Rye, telling stories of regular people creating sustainable lifestyles. While the online magazine publishes monthly, the Tumblr blog operates on a daily schedule. A photo of a box of brassicas, a video on baking bread, and a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald are just some of the curated content that can be found on this blog.
It’s an eclectic mix and it works, as shown by the more than 17,000 Tumblr visitors who “liked” this one post. What’s not to like about that? By repurposing existing content and curating other material, Whole Foods Market uses Tumblr to continually build its brand and reinforce its sustainable living persona.
Coca-Cola is a ubiquitous brand whose image is ingrained into the lives of virtually every North American. So pervasive is the Coke brand that there are professionals, organizations, websites, and events dedicated to Coca-Cola paraphernalia. Coca-Cola’s Tumblr blog is a virtual collection of all things Coke. It’s a mass of curated content containing animated gifs, artwork, photographs, and videos. Everything about the blog, including the colors and text, works in harmony to reinforce the company’s brand.
Although more than 19,000 visitor notes for this post are social proof that this works, it’s not easy to please the fickle. Many posts have only hundreds of likes, comments, or reblogs, while some have as few as a handful. Despite this, it serves as a great repository of Coke odds and ends, providing a wonderful attraction for the curious.
Carefully research Tumblr’s audience before committing to any branded content marketing strategy. Brands need to provide high-quality and visually oriented materials, either original or curated, in order to gain significant audience on this platform. Tastes of Tumblr visitors can be fickle, so allow sufficient time to properly measure results.
Looking for ideas on other innovative platforms to create and distribute branded content? Read the CMI Book, “Bold Brand,” by Josh Myles.
Cover image via Jetset Studios on Tumblr