In November, 2012, something big went down. A monumental change occurred, but unless you (like us) constantly keep your thumb on the pulse of all things social media, you probably didn’t even notice. Few people did, but that change could be the beginning of a social media networking takeover. Why? Because in November 2012, the term “Tumblr” outranked the word “blog” in Google searches. Tumblr for business is now a real thing – and social media marketers are scrambling to figure out how to squeeze the most ROI out of tumbling.
Like the expanding gulf between Lindsay Lohan and her hopes of ever winning an Oscar, the gap between the search terms has grown continuously wider since that original flip-flop, and it’s a trend that has some social networking pros predicting that the term “Tumblr” may one day completely replace the term “blog” – just like the brand name “Kleenex” eclipsed the word “tissue.” But what does this digital name game mean for your business? In two words, a lot. A whole, whole lot.
What Is Tumblr and Why Should You Care?
Asking a group of social networking pros “What is Tumblr?” is a bit like asking a group of teenagers what twerking is. So uncool. To save you from looking like a total square, we’ll give you the gist of it. Tumblr is a social media platform. In fact, it’s one of the most popular social networking sites on the web. If you sneak up behind anyone under 30 and they quickly minimize a tab, there’s at least a 50% chance they were scrolling through their Tumblr dashboard (though we’ll never know for sure, sneaky bastards).
Formed in 2007 by David Karp, Tumblr currently employs only 147 people, but the site hosts over 91.8 million blogs. The majority of those blogs belong to single users – artists, writers, tech junkies, angsty teens, people who are way, way too into One Direction – but a growing number of businesses and brands are joining the ranks. IMB, Rolling Stone and even Twitter (yes, really) are uploading blog content to the site and getting their tumble on.
In the world of business, everyone wants to sit at the big kids’ table, but if the growing number of Fortune-500 companies who are using the service isn’t enough to convince you to set up a business Tumblr, here are a few more reasons to consider creating a Tumblr blog for your brand:
It’s easy. Tumblr is one of the most user-friendly social media networks out there. Posting images, text, videos and more is simple, and custom templates are easy to edit and make your own.
It’s fast. Keeping your business Tumblr updated takes far less time than it would to publish blog content on other sites thanks to the reblogging feature, which allows you to quickly curate posts from other popular Tumblr accounts. You can use all that saved time for important business projects, or you can spend it scrolling through the kitten gif tag – your choice.
It’s fun. The atmosphere of Tumblr is much more casual and playful than that of other social media sites. As David Karp told the New York Times, “People are creating identities and personalities that Facebook and Twitter are not designed to allow you to do.” You may want to try setting up a blog that’s written from your mascot’s point of view, or one that challenges followers to use your products in wacky ways.
It’s viral. The content you post on Tumblr doesn’t live and die a slow, painful death on your blog – it’s shared by other users through reblogs. Popular Tumblr posts can continue to bring traffic to your website months and even years after the original post is published.
Of course, as with all things, there’s a difference between managing a Tumblr for business and managing a Tumblr for business well. (You only need to go to karaoke night once to learn that lesson, right?) Not all blog content is created equal, and neither are all Tumblr accounts, so if you’re ready to create your business Tumblr, you’ll need to follow a few tips to make it count.
The Keys to Creating A Popular Business Tumblr:
Like all social media networks, Tumblr has its own beneficial features, niche audiences and unspoken code of online ethics. In other words, there’s a lot to learn if you hope to create a popular Tumblr account for your business. If this is your first dip in the Tumblr ocean, learning to ride the waves may take you a while. We’d hate for you to embarrass yourself (we’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty) so we’ve developed something of a cheat sheet.
Know Your Audience. Before you make your first post to your business Tumblr account – before you even choose a concept and theme – ask yourself who you’re trying to reach. If you sell support stockings or crocheted toilet paper caddies, then we have bad news: creating a business Tumblr is probably a waste of your time. Why? Because the site’s users are less likely to be your customers and more likely to be their grandchildren. If the prevalence of Avengers gifs and the trend of fangirling over Korean pop stars wasn’t enough to convince you, here are some hard stats about Tumblr for business, courtesy of Mashable:
“Here's the breakdown of who is using the blogging platform, according to Mark Coatney from Tumblr: In the U.S. the audience tends to be younger – 56% of the service's 25.2 million monthly visitors are under 34, and users skew slightly more male (52%). If that sounds like your average customer, you may want to give it a go.”
That’s bad news for brands whose consumers don’t fit with these demographics, but if your business hopes to build a relationship with a younger audience, a business Tumblr account could be the missing piece of your social media networking puzzle.
Optimize Your Tumblr Posts. In the world of Tumblr, the normal SEO rules apply, but if you really want to maximize the impact of your posts, there are a few additional rules to follow:
Tagging. Always tag your posts. Always. Tumblr users constantly search for posts by tags, and adding keywords that target your audience will boost your visibility in a big way. But don’t get crazy – your posts will only show up in searches for the first five keywords you list, and posts with dozens of tags are considered tacky (and frankly, a little desperate).
Linking. When posting original content (not reblogs), always list the source as your business’s website. This is especially important for image posts, because users who click on the image will automatically be taken to your website. That’s a major traffic booster. Also, unless you really like hate mail and would enjoy losing followers, never list yourself as the source of a post that’s not yours.
Pinning. Like most social media networking sites, Tumblr allows users to pay to promote themselves. For $5 Tumblr will mark your selected post with a red pushpin. This pin keeps your post at the top of your followers’ dashboards for 24 hours, or until they click on the pin to return your post to its normal spot on their dash.
This feature should be used very, very (read: VERY) sparingly. Even the most popular Tumblr users never use it more than once every three months, and when they do, the pinned post is almost always an important announcement (Coco Rocha has been known to pin her Vogue covers, for example). That little red pushpin is like a giant glittery sign screaming LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! Use it with caution.
Connecting. Your business Tumblr lets you connect with consumers in ways that other social media networks don’t allow. It’s one of the main reasons why creating an account is beneficial, and it’s part of why it’s so much fun. Try these ideas to create engaging blog content:
2. Create and post your own animated gifs (gifs on Tumblr are hugely popular, and gif posts tend to get reblogged more than other kinds).
3. Post a Tumblr challenge for your followers. Ask them to make a certain kind of post every day for a week. Tumblr challenges are a bit like the Myspace surveys of yore, and they always get people engaged.
4. Tap into fandom. Is your CEO a dedicated Doctor Who fan? Do you have a video of your PR team jamming out to Lady Gaga? Share it! Most popular Tumblr users are ardent fans of at least one TV show, celebrity or band. Show them that you are too and you won’t only boost your interaction – you’ll give your brand a face and gain some fans of your own.
Of course these aren’t the only ways to gain popularity points in Tumblr land. If you’re the master and commander of a popular Tumblr and you’ve come across some creative ways to boost engagement, leave us a comment below to share the love.
Keep Calm and Tumble On
We’ll be honest. When it comes to predicting social media trends – to identifying which online social communities will go the way of the dinosaur and which will rule the world – there are no certainties. We know, because we polled the Magic 8-Ball, that fortune teller booth in the mall and Miss Cleo, and they all told us different things.
Besides, as social networking pros we know better than to speak in absolutes when we work in a market that evolves by the day. You won’t see us donning sandwich boards downtown and thundering into a megaphone: “THE END OF FACEBOOK IS NEAR! REPENT! REPENT AND TUMBLE!” Instead, you’ll find us behind our keyboards, teaching ourselves as much as we can about Tumblr for business and then passing on what we’ve learned to our clients.
Luckily, you don't have to do it alone. Contact us today and one of our social networking pros will work with you to develop a plan that’s perfectly tailored to your business's needs. If you just want to be part of the conversation, post your business Tumblr URL in a comment below and feel free to give constructive feedback to readers who do the same. If we missed an important tip that you’d like to share, we hope you’ll post it in the comments too. And finally, if you can possibly find a Tumblr weirder than this one, we may give you some sort of award.