2013 appears to be Tumblr’s year. The microblogging platform is currently the 9th most visited website in the United States, and the 162-person company aims to generate $100 million in revenue this year. With over 106 million blogs, however, the marketing world has slowly caught onto the sheer potential of this platform. With an emphasis on imagery, video and short, punchy content, Tumblr can be an incredibly efficient advertising tool for pushing both products and services relevant to the demographic – primarily those in 18-24 range, although the 25-34 range are also frequent visitors.
The Big Guns Take Notice
Forbes magazine published an article earlier this year, citing Tumblr as a powerful social network/publishing platform hybrid. Tumblr is ideally suited to the concept of content marketing – brand managers have the opportunity to create useful, quality content for their readers without constantly trying to sell to them. Good quality content breeds loyal followers, and on a site where fickle readers are quick to hit the dreaded “Unfollow” button, maintaining and growing your audience is key.
As the article notes, companies also have the opportunity to treat this blogging platform as an extension of their brand – they do not always have to advertise products, but rather create a visual story of their brand ethos and values, and communicate it directly to their target audience.
Adweek, meanwhile, has also picked up on the Tumblr trend, noting that brands such as Cole Haan have been posting subway ads with only their Tumblr URL printed on them, as opposed to their Facebook page or brand website, whilst Champs Sports placed their Tumblr URL in their television advert, aired during the NBA playoffs in the US.
Which Brands Are Making The Most Effective Use of Tumblr?
Publications & Products
For many magazines and fashion brands, Tumblr is a logical social media option. For titles such as The Economist, Vogue, GQ, Glamour, NPR, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Total Film and the Rolling Stone, among many others, Tumblr is perfect for providing previews of upcoming magazine content, utilising additional images or information that didn’t make the cut, and engaging in discussion with readers.
Fashion blogs, meanwhile, have a massive following on the internet, and combined with the image-friendly usability of the site, Tumblr is once again the ideal platform for these kinds of brands. UK fashion chain Topshop, as well as Adidas, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Gucci, Vans, Nike, J Crew and Pringle all have Tumblr pages, filled with visually-appealing content.
Other popular topics on Tumblr include beauty, fitness, cars, technology, film, music, and cats. Lots of cats. In all seriousness, brands that specialise in one of these areas have it easy. However, let’s take a look at companies who fall outside of these categories and how they make use of the blogging platform.
Whole Foods Market
The organic food powerhouse has created an online magazine entitled Dark Rye, which focuses on sustainable living and creative entrepreneurial ideas. Although the blog isn’t entirely food related (they do feature healthy recipes from time to time), it is the perfect example of an effective brand extension, promoting Whole Foods’ philosophy of all that is natural, wholesome, and beneficial to the community. The blog describes itself as “Leisure storytelling steeped in a vision of a sustainable, decadent, and curious life”.
The Tumblr page of the technology giant is a fascinating mixture of science and technological innovation, featuring a variety of content – videos of atoms, interviews with researchers, animated GIF’s, images with short captions detailing various IMB developments, and quotes related to their industry. Their interesting, informative, and varied content has resulted in multiple followers and reblogs. IBM’s brand exposure is greatly increased, without them having to aggressively sell products to consumers on their blog.
The Heineken Tumblr blog is incredibly visual, and designed to echo the brand’s green and white colour theme. Currently running a competition where entrants are required to design a lounge bar of the future, the blog is full of photos depicting innovative club designs and unusual methods of serving drinks.
For those of you not in the know, Sharpie is the manufacturer of what are otherwise known as “koki pens” or “felt markers”. Their Tumblr blog, whilst not a bastion of original content, is certainly active with its target audience. Unlike many other brands, Sharpie follows other users and reblogs plenty of creative content that relates to their product. Their bright, colourful design perfectly encapsulates the playful, fun vibe that the company wishes to promote.
The iconic red and white brand is another example of a company utilising Tumblr as a method of brand extension. Their catchphrase, “Where happiness lives”, is used as the blog theme, and thus all the blog content, when not directly related to Coke, echoes the free-spirited, fun-loving persona of the brand.
Oscar de la Renta
Couture fashion house Oscar de la Renta has a wonderful fashion-centric blog that doesn’t try to hard sell anything (bearing in mind their audience on Tumblr can only dream of being able to afford an item designed by the maestro himself). The blog has a massive following, and is run by one of the brand’s PR officers – she posts one-of-a-kind images from behind the scenes, as well as fashion insights, Q&A’s, and other photos celebrating fashion and style.
One of the reasons that Tumblr is so popular with users is that you are not bombarded with adverts across your dashboard. The site does not make use of banner ads, and their attempt at sponsored posts, where users could pay to have their post remain at the top of their followers’ home pages for 24 hours, failed miserably. This is great for content marketing, because it means that brands with quality content will be rewarded – there are no SEO shortcuts on this platform.
However, last month Tumblr announced that it will be rolling out mobile advertising in the US, where users will see a maximum of 4 sponsored posts per day. Tumblr founder David Karp is very aware of the sometimes frustrating nature of online advertising, noting that “We should be able to inject advertisements there in a way that’s really not disruptive and not interruptive”.
It remains to be seen who else takes advantage of Tumblr as a marketing tool, and whether the company itself will reach its $100 million target in 2013.