The Age of Tumblr

tumblr iconWhen a burgeoning business is determining what social media sites to create accounts for, obvious answers like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube quickly emerge as clear front-runners. People will sometimes cite more defunct/ non-fitting presences like Myspace,  Foursquare, or Formspring which have lost much of their original audiences and should be largely ignored. But there is usually one site not mentioned, and maybe it should be… Tumblr.

Tumblin’ over the competition

Tumblr is a blogging platform that leverages the hashtagging and following systems of Twitter, the long-form posting ability of Facebook, and the image-focused interface of Instagram. By choosing the best parts of each platform Tumblr has grown to offer 169 million blogs since its launch is 2007, and was recently bought by Yahoo in 2013 for a cool $1.1 billion.

Blogs and bloggers are also incredibly varied on the service and offer multiple markets for building communities and conversation. According to an infographic from Websitehostreviews.com, Tumblr’s audience is 42% domestic and primarily women (53%). Additionally any given user is likely to be college educated, and between the age of 25-35 with these demographics making up more than half of user base.

So how did Tumblr do it?

This women-driven-college-educated-american audience was likely attracted to tumblr simply by the interface. An infinitely scrolling page of blog posts that are guaranteed to pique your interest (since you decide who to follow), with very few ads and lots of ways to find new compelling content.

Tumblr starts you off with a completely blank slate, you don’t follow anyone and nobody initially follows you. This requires the site search functionality to be simple to navigate and effective at finding relevant content. The solution Tumblr devised was to use the same #hashtag system used by Twitter. Hashtags allow users on twitter to engage in global ad hoc conversations simply by distilling topics to a few words.

A new member to Tumblr can type in “art” into the search engine and suddenly be faced with an entire wall of posts tagged with “#art.” This can include prose, paintings, digital art, and sculpture. Or a user can search any of those topics individually for a more precise set of results.

Additionally, if users are just interested in browsing freely, Tumblr will provide a list of trending topics, blogs, and posts for users to browse at a glance.

Tumblr is different from Twitter however because of the length of each post. Twitter is limited to a mere 140 characters of text. Tumblr has no limit and can accommodate much more complex forms of thought and analysis as well as emotion and story. Users on Tumblr can also share video, links, images, conversations, quotes, and more. Allowing people to tag complicated media with simple words of their choice has created an interesting ecosystem because of the complexity it allows.

After you find posts you like, you can then follow individual bloggers and thus populate your infinite feed with posts that pertain to your interests. And instead of commenting on blogs like the days of old, Tumblr encourages “Reblogging.” This is literally re-posting the blog to your feed with the option to add additional content you feel is relevant to the conversation neatly separated at the bottom.

This reblogging feature encourages conversation as well as attribution and repeated traffic. Also, by basically publicly commenting on something and sharing it with all of YOUR followers, you are helping to spread the original message AS WELL AS the original poster. This can lead to a snowball effect of overnight popularity on the platform.

How should you use Tumblr?

Tumblr isn’t necessarily a tool to drive revenue, however it can do so indirectly. Tumblr is a source of new customers and a platform for conversation and effective content marketing. A Tumblr blog for a burgeoning business should be active in the community related to the business. For instance, a clothing company should blog about fashion trends, an athletic company should blog about related sports, a computer maintenance company should blog about technology and so on.

Content should be creative, informative, complex, and not readily identifiable as marketing. If it does not sound genuine, people will not read it. The more niche a market you aim at, the more likely you are to attract interested readers.

Most importantly, anyone interested in using Tumblr should understand that it is a conversation-based blogging platform and requires reciprocal participation with the community you build. This will help build trust, which helps build a community, which will help drive revenue.

Now tumbl on out of here, and reblog this with your friends.