It may not be up there with WordPress yet, as far as user adoption, but Tumblr is growing like a weed, and it has more of a social network feel than WordPress. Your business doesn’t have to be on every social network there is, but you may find Tumblr to be an untapped audience that you shouldn’t be ignoring. Luckily, Tumblr wants businesses to take part. The company tells WebProNews it’s “very encouraging of businesses that want to use Tumblr.”
“We don't have a standard list of best practices but we love businesses to use Tumblr as an opportunity to engage with their community by actively engaging in other blogs, posting regularly, and following members of Tumblr who might be interested in your brand,” a Tumblr staff member said.
“As we grow, I'm sure that we'll be open to business partnership opportunities, but it's not something that I have specifics on at this time,” she said, adding that Tumblr is “always actively looking for creative ways to help out brands on Tumblr.”
This was actually the subject of a recent interview Founder and CEO David Karp did with AdAge. He said Tumblr has 4.5 billion impressions a week.
In January, Karp said Tumblr had hit 15 billion pageviews per month. That’s most likely higher by now. Earlier this month, they launched new integration with the Facebook Timeline. Based on the success other apps have had with this, you can certainly imagine how much this will increase viewership for Tumblr posts. Last month, Facebook claimed the Timeline had boosted Pinterest’s daily active Facebook user base by 60%.
Still want to ignore Tumblr?
GalleyCat has an interesting article, featuring some advice for writers straight from Tumblr’s literary outreach, Rachel Fershleiser. If your business has a blog, some of what she has to say may apply to you. Likewise if your business is looking to Tumblr to be its main blog platform.
A lot of what she has to say, would really apply to anyone using Tumblr. It’s about being active in the community, as with most social networks. She suggests finding people to follow, actively liking and reblogging posts from others, and using a bookmarklet for your browser, from the “Goodies” page, to help you “incorporate blogging into your daily life.”
She also stresses the importance of tagging posts with relevant topics, and not “getting fancy” with your URL. She suggests a firsnamelastname.tumblr.com approach, noting that you can still be creative with your blog’s actual title. Also, she says, “Make sure you upload an image to be your avatar so you don’t have a creepy blue default profile and choose a theme from our theme garden to customize your look.”
Hopefully you’re already active on Facebook. If so, I’d suggest taking advantage of that Tumblr timeline integration. You can do this by simply selecting “send to Facebook” when you post to Tumblr.
More generally, I’d also suggest paying attention to the Tumblr community. Look at the kinds of things that you see on Tumblr. It’s often a very visual experience. A lot of animated gifs. Look at what’s being reblogged. Can you create quick, easy Tumblr content that takes what this content does well, but make it your own? I’m not saying you have to use animated gifs, but they certainly are popular on Tumblr. Tumblr even increased the size limit for them a few months ago.
Tumblr has a paid “highlighted posts” feature, which you can use to help promote certain posts. It costs a dollar. “Every now and then, a post comes along that’s meant for big things. It could be pulling the wraps off your new project, promoting your next show, raising awareness for a cause, or just sharing a truly incredible photo,” Tumblr said, when announcing the feature in February.
As I said at the time, I’m not really sure just how effective this is for making posts standout. It adds a sticker like this (albeit, a customizable one):
They do give you a lot of options on the customization, as far as what it says:
Karp did note in the AdAge interview that the feature wasn’t really designed with brands in mind. “We're not expecting Vogue to spend a buck on every one of their posts to make it stand out,” he’s quoted as saying. “In fact, that would make the experience kind of crappy.” He did mention, however, that he likes how Reuters uses it to highlight breaking news.
Businesses might have more Tumblr features to work with soon.
“We want to offer a set of nuanced creative tools for users on Tumblr,” he’s quoted as saying. “And was the right starting point. And this is not the first user-oriented promotional paid feature. There are two in production -- the highlight posts and the ability to purchase and sell themes, but before that we had the ability to put your blog's avatar up on the dashboard. We tested the ability to promote yourself in our directories. That was one of the most successful revenue-generating features, not only in driving traffic to our blogs but in acting as a filter on our network, and it's something we want to get back to very soon.”
He also implies that directory improvements for brands are on the horizon.
One big takeaway I get from that interview is that Tumblr, in general, wasn’t designed for brands, but brands flocked to it anyway to find it useful. Now, Tumblr is acknowledging this, and seems to be thinking about how it can become better for brands moving forward. My guess is that over the next year or two, we will start seeing a much bigger brand presence on the service, and a lot more tools provided by Tumblr, which will prove beneficial.
There may not be as much to work with right now, but there is still plenty of opportunity. Tumblr’s been around for a while. It was founded in 2007, but it’s still the early days, given the growth it’s seeing, it’s going to get a lot bigger. It might be wise to start building your Tumblr community sooner rather than later, so when more useful tools come out, you can use them more effectively and not have to start completely from scratch.