Apple is famously mute on social media. It maintains a Facebook and Twitter for iTunes, but has never used social media to market its hardware. That is, it had never until March of this year, when it joined a social network to promote its colorful, (relatively) inexpensive iPhone 5c. Which social network did it choose, you ask? Not Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. It chose Tumblr.
The reasons are indicative of a bigger trend surrounding Tumblr. Brands are betting big on the social network, and they're seeing incredible results. More than 300 paid advertisers have promoted content on Tumblr since it debuted in-stream sponsored posts in Spring 2013.
So, why Tumblr?
All about the Creative
Tumblr values high-quality creative above all else. It has since its beginning, so high-quality visual content is the majority of Tumblr posts, and thus, what users expect in their feeds. Brands should know this before they jump in; Tumblr already knows this well.
While most social networks will take any advertising or sponsored content they can get (I’m looking at you, Facebook), Tumblr maintains editorial oversight over its sponsored posts through a submission approval process. It's (smartly) adamant about maintaining the aesthetic quality of the platform, and it works with brands to make sure they get what Tumblr is about before they advertise in a user’s feed. In short, Tumblr is working hard to maintain a seamless user experience as it continues to incorporate sponsored posts in feeds.
Moreover, many brands are flocking to Tumblr because the platform supports a variety of creative mediums. While most social networks favor one medium in particular (photography on Instagram, increasingly video on Facebook), Tumblr supports all forms of creative: GIFs, video, photography, text, etc.
Catherine Borda, AT&T Mobility youth strategy and marketing director, recently told AdWeek that her brand chose to advertise on Tumblr because they wanted a platform that would “give free rein on the type of creative it wanted to post. Tumblr has really great flexibility. That was a really important toy for us.”
Creativity is championed on Tumblr, which means aesthetic, creative-obsessed brands (like Apple) are expected to create high-quality content that users will genuinely want to follow and share. And lucky for Tumblr users (and likewise for unwitting brands), any sponsored content that pops up in users' feed will have been vetted first, so that it’s Tumblr-friendly and fits right in among your other content.
All the Cool Kids are Doing It
Think of Tumblr this way: If Facebook is your rigid, boring, rule-follower older brother, then Tumblr is your cool, hip, up-for-whatever younger sister. What works on Facebook probably doesn’t work on Tumblr, and vice versa. The vibe on Tumblr is fun, hip, trendy, cool, weird, and irreverent. It’s a place where memes proliferate, timely mashups run wild, and GIFs rule the world.
Now, let’s talk stats.
- 56.1% of Tumblr users are under the age of 34. So what? If your target audience are teens and/or Millennials, Tumblr is where your audience is spending a lot of time.
- Tumblr is currently the fastest-growing social network. In the last six months, its number of active users grew by 120% (for comparison’s sake, Facebook’s active users grew by 2% during that time). So what? It’s a good time to get in the game.
- The average Tumblr user spends 14 minutes on the network per visit, making it the No. 1 social destination in terms of time spent on page. So what? Tumblr users love Tumblr. If your brand is there, and you’re posting high-quality creative content, there’s a good chance they’ll love you, too.
- The average sponsored post is reblogged 10,000 times. So what? If your post is cool and and shareable, Tumblr users don’t care if it’s coming from a brand. Also, the life span of a post on Tumblr is much longer than on other social networks. Users often reblog months and months after initially posted.
- 65% of Tumblr’s active users use the mobile app. So what? Tumblr created a beautiful mobile app, so users are engaged on the go, and your content will definitely look good on it.
- Tumblr has the second-highest revenue per visit (after Facebook). So what? If ROI is part of your brand’s objectives on social media (who’s isn’t?), the importance of this should be self explanatory.
Ok, so what works on Tumblr? Well...
… really anything goes as long as it’s visual, eye-catching and shareable. Don’t be afraid to be snarky or sarcastic, but remember that heavy-handed marketing messages won’t work here. A good rule of thumb: Don’t market a product; market a lifestyle. And if all else fails, turn it into a GIF.