By now every PR student or professional must know about Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. But what about Tumblr?
I describe myself as a social media addict because I can’t live without my daily internet infusion of blogs and social networking. Among those you can find Tumblr. Even though I don’t always post, I usually check it whenever I check my e-mail.
A bit of history of Tumblr
Tumblr was launched in 2007 and since then it has accumulated over 34 million users. This is a low number in comparison to other social network platforms, but when it comes to blogging, Tumblr has managed to surpass its main rival WordPress this last year.
However Tumblr’s popularity has yet to really infect the entire world. At the moment, more than 35% of visitors and users are from the US, the next country being a far second UK with 5% of visits.
Under the motto of “Post anything. Customise everything” Tumblr appeals to its audiences because of its way of combining sharing (mostly) pictures and other content with blogging and social networking.
Fresh and creative, Tumblr’s is the “easiest way to blog”; the platform is easy, accessible and very customizable.
The Tumblr social network isn’t always created of people you know or converse with but those whose opinion and taste you like and trust.
The connections are created through the love of similar things – whether pictures, quotes, music or ideas,
Tumblr’s driving force is the “Reblog” button. This feature which is pretty much a novelty when it comes to blogging, but it is one of the main engagement tools on social networks (you might recognize here the Facebook “Share” button and its Twitter equivalent “Retweet”). The reblog feature creates connections among users giving it an impression that it’s a close network of friends sharing their favourite content although the posts could have thousands and thousands of reblogs.
Brian Solis, the US consultant and author, described Tumblr in an recent interview as a “hybrid network and microblog community rich with its own culture” and added that according to recent statistics by Nielsen, Tumblr is third on the list of minutes spent in social networks and blogs behind Facebook and Blogger.
Because of its social aspect user engage much more with the content, pay more attention to what is being posted and that is why Tumblr is continually growing, surpassing its competitor blogging platforms.
When it comes to image if we were to say that WordPress is the Microsoft of blogging, then Tumblr would definitely be Apple.
The blogging platform has created its own personality described by a fresh view, creativity and a young, quirky attitude. I would even go as far as calling it the hipster of social media. Tumblr can be tweaked and designed to appear more serious but in the end it will still have that innovative design opportunities, accessibility and the user friendly interface which makes blogs look more like websites.
Tumblr has managed to create a niche where there wasn’t one left. After the appearance of so many social networks, the blogging platform quickly managed to attract artists, photographers and writers on to its pages. Due to its features, Tumblr has the ability to launch and popularize memes and “viral-ize” videos much more easily than other blogging platforms.
Magazines and publishing brands were among the first businesses to notice the potential in user engagement on Tumblr and have started taking advantage of its novelty and creative flair. Most major publications (especially the American ones) already have Tumblr pages.
Some of the best examples of publications using Tumblr are The Economist that mostly share covers, cartoons, pictures and headlines rather than articles, The Huffington Post, also known as the Internet’s Newspaper is present on Tumblr using the blogging platform to offer headlines and links to other content, and Vogue, one of the world’s most famous fashion and lifestyle magazines which uses Tumblr mostly for sharing pictures.
The fashion industry is very well represented on Tumblr through blogs such as OscarPRGirl, which is a PR account used to share fashion trends and pictures from inside the Oscar De La Renta brand or designer Kate Spade’s blog. Fashion brands’ orientation towards Tumblr is easy to understand seeing as in May 2011, Nielsen statistics showed that over 53% of Tumblr users are females and over 44% are between 18 and 34 years of age, which is what most fashion brands and magazines are aiming for – a young, internet savvy demographic.
While media outlets are more likely to use it for sharing headlines and recent pictures, businesses such as IBM use it to create engagement with other projects or ideas. Universal Music is another business with its own ‘Tumblelog’ with news and updates.
I would have to say I believe that Tumblr, if used correctly, can be a great communication tool for any company especially if you’re seeking a younger audience. Because of its stunning simplicity and social potential Tumblr can easily popularise a message, which is what happened this year when the Tumblr blog “We are 99%” went viral.
However, Tumblr, on its own cannot take the role of a website or be the only social media tool used. I would rather think of Tumblr as a supporting blog for your company’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, just in the way IBM, Universal and EMI have used it because each of these tools address its publics in different ways.