A Crash Course in Tumblr for B2B Marketers
I’ll admit it. I was a Tumblr lurker. I’ve been watching this social media platform for a while and recently I decided to dive in. I was particularly interested to see if this might be a viable channel for B2B marketers to publish (or re-publish) content. We all want to get more exposure for our work. Could this be another Business 2 Community or even something like LinkedIn’s publishing platform? Maybe not, but I did discover some fascinating facts and best practices that I’ll share here.
But first, what exactly is Tumblr?
Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform. Its audience skews heavily toward the younger crowd, and the marketing is primarily B2C. Here are the details on those demographics, according to eMarketer:
Tumblr is also the home of “reblogging.” Like almost every other social media platform, Tumblr lets users repost or ”reblog” other users’ content. Some sources, like SimplyMeasured, say this extends the life of content on Tumblr, thus making it more likely your content will be seen.
Tumblr’s strengths include:
- It gives you an opportunity to repurpose/republish content
- It can be a great way to drive traffic to your site
- It’s great for seamlessly blending a bunch of different content types (text, video, etc)
- It’s blogging for people who are tired of using WordPress
- It’s growing rapidly (as fast as Pinterest, according to some reports)
The weaknesses? The audience is young and most of the marketing is B2C. Oh, and it’s owned by Yahoo. They could decide to tinker with it at any time.
Want some evidence of the growth? You got it. According to GlobalWebIndex in a report published earlier this month, Pinterest and Tumblr saw more growth in the first quarter of this year than any other social media platforms.
Compare GlobalWebIndex’s data to eMarketer’s estimate of Tumblr growth for the next few years:
Even the more conservative eMarketer data makes Tumblr look promising. No wonder Yahoo decided to buy it in 2013.
The platform is not only growing fast, but also has a tremendous amount of content on it. There were 238.3 million blogs on Tumblr as of this writing, according to Tumblr’s About page. Those blogs have published 112.0 billion posts. Some sources say Tumblr adds 113.6 million more posts and 120,000 new users every single day.
What can you do on Tumblr?
In addition to the obvious blogging and image and video sharing, there are some business growth opportunities on Tumblr. Here are three things that matter to marketers.
1. You can advertise
Yep, they’ve got ads. Five different kinds of ads. There are sponsored posts, video posts, sponsored blogs, radar posts and sponsored posts with Yahoo exposure. Tumblr also launched a new format recently called the sponsored day ad, which sits on top of users’ dashboards for 24 hours.
Here’s an example of an ad with a Tumblr-like sensibility:
2. You can grow your email list
Some email service providers have created little email buttons and widgets for Tumblr blogs. Users see an email icon in the upper right of the Tumblr blog. If they click it, an opt-in box pops up.
3. You can run polls and surveys
The online tool Wedgies lets you add polls and surveys to your Tumblr posts. There’s a free version to get your feet wet with, then a paid version with more features.
The case for B2B marketing on Tumblr
So if you’re a B2B marketer, should you dive into Tumblr? Honestly, maybe not. If you already feel over-extended on social media platforms, it might be smart to wait. As a time-pressed marketer, you probably don’t want to jump on every available social media platform – unless there’s a compelling business reason for it.
For B2B marketers, there’s no overwhelming evidence that they’ve got to be on Tumblr. LinkedIn? That’s essential. SlideShare? A strong case. Pinterest? Lots of good reasons. But while Tumblr is cool and fun, it doesn’t cater to a business audience. (Yet.)
Some B2B marketing experts are promoting the idea of getting on Tumblr, largely because visual content is purported to be the next big thing for B2B marketing. The other argument to join would be that Tumblr is a cool opportunity to republish your content. One more reason might be that if your brand needs a dose of playful, Tumblr would be a great place to do it.
When people talk about “the visual web” these days, if they’re talking social media, they’re generally referring to Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. There are a lot of voices in the marketing world encouraging all of us to use more visual content. I agree with that. But again, to be honest, if I was talking to a marketing manager at a small or medium-sized B2B company, I’d rather see them doing visual content by creating and sharing more videos, not building a big Tumblr presence. What if they were a B2C company that had a strong appeal to people 35 and under? Then I would encourage a Tumblr account.
It can be hard to pick and choose between social media platforms. We’re all afraid we’re going to miss out on something big. If you’ve got the staff and the budget to test this, it is promising. But if you’ve got to keep your nose to the grindstone to ensure ROI, stick to more proven platforms.
5 B2B companies with a presence on Tumblr
Despite the challenges a B2B marketer might face on Tumblr, some brave souls have embraced it. Here are a few examples:
This is a rather awesome Tumblr blog put out by the “analytics-driven agency”, The Marketing Distillery. They describe their organization as an “informational (we hope) and slightly irreverent (we think) take on all things analytics in the world of digital marketing and technology.” I followed it immediately. If you were ever going to get excited by what Tumblr can do, this is the blog to do it.
IBM’s A Smarter Planet
IBM has created kind of a “weird science” curated blog. It’s interesting, and it definitely builds IBM’s brand as a forward-thinking, science-focused idea factory.
Here’s another big B2B technology company that has a Tumblr presence about cool science and inspiring innovations. It’s a gorgeous page, with videos, lots of sharing buttons and hashtags and daily updates. What are they getting out of it? Well, GE is showing the younger set how cool they can be. And that’s not a bad thing, right? I’m just not sure if something like this is the right move for smaller companies who need to see ROI in a short time frame.
This is “The official feed from Tumblr’s Sales and Brand Strategy team.” It’s got case studies, and a slew of updates and interesting content. But again, it’s mostly for the B2C crowd.
Nicole Sherrod is managing director of trading at TD Ameritrade. While this Tumblr blog is both kinda B2B and kinda B2C, I’m including it because it’s clearly had a lot of effort put into it. It’s detailed, interesting, and supports and expands the Ameritrade brand. If you’re pondering what can be done with this platform, take a look.
5 best practices for Tumblr
Think you’re ready to make a go of this? QuickSprout has a good video on how to open and set up your account (a bit dated, still valid). That will get you started. Here are some best practices to keep you going:
- Try to post once a day or more (there is a post queue or scheduling feature).
- Test when to post, but start out posting on evenings and weekends.
- Curate others’ content liberally. Don’t just publish or reblog your own stuff.
- Add a hearty dose of videos and animated gifs to your posts.
- Embrace the wacky, the quirky, and the weird. It’s the Tumblr thing to do. See Mashable’s list of the Top 25 Viral Tumblr Posts of 2014 for insight into Tumblr’s funky soul. The image below, from the Museum of Selfies Tumblr blog , is from that Mashable list.
Beyond the basics of Tumblr management
If you want some technical tips for Tumblr shortcuts and hacks, HongKiat wrote a good post awhile back. It includes more Tumblr add-ons for the ultimate tricked-out Tumblr blog. Tumblr itself has a tips and tricks page that includes how to post to your Tumblr blog via a voicemail. The feature is called Dial-a-Post. Kinda cool, eh?
What do you think of Tumblr for B2B marketers, or Tumblr in general? Are you using it? Are you getting good results? It would be great to get your input in the comments.
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