Why It’s a Mistake For Brands to Ignore Tumblr

Pretend I’m someone who understands the basics of the Internet but has never used a social platform. Now let me ask you: What’s Facebook? What’s Twitter? What’s Instagram?

Most answers, at least from the readers of this blog, would be similar. But I’ve got another question. What’s Tumblr? I would bet that at this point the definitions start to differ. 

“It’s a blogging platform, like WordPress or Typepad.”

“It’s a social network where people share all sorts of content.”

“It’s a website for theme-based GIF repositories.”

For the record, Tumblr defines itself as a platform that “lets you effortlessly share anything” including “text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos.” But the six-year-old content platform is still commonly misunderstood by brands and agencies as it relates to social strategy. Even its self-definition fails to clearly define its focus, its user base or its potential as a place to engage with fans through organic and paid media.

Should your brand be on Tumblr? Let’s discuss.


Getting Marketing Miles Out of Your Superfans

In my tween years I was a huge fan of the WWE (then the World Wrestling Federation). I would watch every episode of Superstars of Wrestling and Saturday Night’s Main Event, among other various WWE programming. I’d watch all the pay-per-views on VHS days later, since my parents wouldn’t splurge to watch it live (I’m not bitter or anything). I’d even watch Talking Wrestling on the local cable-access channel in Marshfield, MA, which consisted mostly of prank calls and thick Boston accents.

I was a superfan to the full extent of the definition. I begged my parents to buy me championship belts and action figures, take me to local wrestling shows and I was undefeated against my big stuffed panda bear. When Hulk Hogan had his ribs broken by Earthquake, I sent a bevy of get well letters to his hospital bedside. I even got a postcard back. The "writing" looked eerily similar to Arial, but I’m sure it was just coincidence and he wrote it all himself.

Superfans are everywhere. From television shows and video games to automotive and even CPGs, superfans are embracing the brands they love. They aren’t getting the “superfan” title just because they tune in every week or refuse to drink any other kind of soda. Superfans are the rare but powerful fan base that is sharing branded content with friends, creating unique content of its own and providing an authentic endorsement of a product or service that a brand could never replicate. 

Brand managers: Are you listening to your superfans? Are you recognizing and rewarding them? Are you embracing them on their own platforms? If not, your brand may be suffering because of it. 


Disney All-In on Content Marketing With “Oh My Disney”

This post originally appeared in our March ’13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

Though it was founded in 2006 (which makes it older than Twitter), BuzzFeed stormed onto the social media scene in 2012, more than doubling its 2011 traffic (per Alexa).  

The format is perfect for the way audiences consume and share media today. The content is easy to consume, relevant, entertaining and frequent, as the site posts dozens of times a day. Brands like HBO and Velveeta have even joined in, co-creating content with BuzzFeed. It’s a publishing model that requires lots of staffers and community contributors to keep the content fire hose pumping.  

So it was quite a surprise to see that Disney has launched its own BuzzFeed-like site. Entitled “Oh My Disney” (OMD), the site features articles with Disney imagery, GIFs and other short-form Disney-related editorial built specifically to be easily consumed, enjoyed and quickly shared. Posts like “15 More Reminders That You’re Great Today” and “You Know You're a 90's Kid When” are organized into five categories: Awww; Oh, Snap!; Retro; Silly; and Whoa. 

The page is updated quite consistently, anywhere from two to eight times a day (even if the content isn’t necessarily timely). So how is Disney doing it?


3 Carmakers Embracing Brand Stories

My first car was a gray 1987 Honda Accord LXi hatchback. Well, it was actually a two-toned gray, since I never bothered to get the replacement panels painted after a fender bender (primer gray was close enough).

I bought the car using the money I earned scooping ice cream and washing dishes at Brigham’s restaurant the two years before. It was a stick shift, and since I didn’t know how to drive a stick yet, my mom had to test-drive it as I sat in the passenger seat. I remember that test-drive vividly. Supposedly it had great gas mileage and shifted like butter. I didn’t pay much attention. I was on cloud nine because I knew this would be my car, and I was dreaming of the possibilities.


Is Tumblr Doomed?

Tumblr is doing things differently. While Facebook and Twitter constantly load up on new features—many of which premiere to groans from avid users—Tumblr is scaling down and making things simpler in order to foster a positive artistic community. Tumblr also stands out by refusing to employ traditional digital-advertising methods. With more than 64 million blogs and 15 billion monthly page views, Tumblr could easily make millions through display, banner or video ads. But founder David Karp is sticking to his guns and rejecting anything he deems counter-creative. Instead he is focusing on a more holistic, integrated form of advertising wherein the brands involved must create great content on Tumblr. But given that the platform hosts edgy content (most recently, the disturbing “Holmies" sect) and is still largely pigeonholed as a place for fanatics and fanatical sharers, is this just wishful thinking? 


The True Heart of Social Media

An inspiring thing has happened to our social media feeds in the last week. The tightrope of life and death that we all walk on was exposed for one young entrepreneur. Refusing to take his situation lying down, he's using viral marketing to raise awareness for his ailment and motivate people across the globe to help save his life.


Tumblr Says No to Interruption

As social sharing sites continue to incorporate interruptive advertising into their free models — Twitter’s Hoot Suite deal dropping ads into users' streams, and Facebook Sponsored Stories turning users’ social lives into ads, to name a few — Tumblr gets the Post Advertising stamp of approval for refusing to badger users with unwanted messages. Tumblr has been opposed to advertising from the get-go, but is the no interruption approach sustainable? We hope so.

Photo Apps Add Nostalgia to Social Sharing

As we have evolved as a society, so too has our technology. In this past decade you could have found a digital camera that accepted 3.5" floppy disks (can you believe they're still for sale?). Rewind another decade and you probably could have hunted down a Polaroid camera with relative ease for your immediate photographic desires. However, now the best cameras in our households are often the ones in our cell phones. The iPhone 4 boasts a 5-megapixel camera that takes pictures just as well as the Canon S90, which retails at over $350.  The iPhone 4 screen itself is so high-resolution that even after a month of owning it, I still can't believe how sharp the images are.