I admit it. I was one of those high school teenagers that jumped on the Tumblr trend, constantly browsing through pretty outfits, inspiring quotes and TV show GIFs during class and study breaks. But after so many years, I really thought the presence of Tumblr was long gone…in fact, it was only on spring break this year that a conversation with a friend on the beach (who still uses Tumblr to this day) informed me that the Tumblr community is very much alive.
New number, who Tumblr?
Background info for those of you who actually paid attention in class and didn’t frolic around on Tumblr – it’s a microblogging and social-networking site that allows users to post as short-form blogs (differs from traditional blogs because it tends to be less structured). It allows a wide range of post formats including quotes, chat, video, photos, audio and comes with no limit in word count.
So what’s the 411?
I remember initially Tumblr seemed to be a place where teenagers liked to vent and foster their pent up middle/high school angst. Turns out, Tumblr is now the 8th most popular social media platform, estimated to have 115,000,000 monthly visitors used by mainly Americans aged 16-24. This got me curious as to what value people found in Tumblr and if any companies have attempted to leverage this platform.
Group sharing on private blogs
Tumblr accounts allow friends to share content via a private blog where multiple accounts can control one shared blog so members can add content with control of if the public can see it or not. I see a lot of sorority chapters doing this where they’ll share spring break photos, “updates of the week” posts and mixer event videos, etc. Often their Tumblr blogs will also be linked to their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Some users utilize their accounts to showcase their portfolios rather than pay for a website platform like Squarespace. Here’s a wonderful example of a friend’s photography portfolio. Those who would like more specific blog themes specialized in portfolio formats can choose to upgrade to Tumblr premium ($9-$49). Typically users present visual art like paintings, sculptures and digital design, but portfolios can also range from writing samples to web comics to fashion designs.
Some blogs are exclusively dedicated to producing content in one type of format. Humans of New York is a powerful example of how a user can leverage the flexible formatting to create powerful posts.
I’ve also had many friends who started Tumblr accounts as a way of documenting their travels from abroad. Again, freedom in formatting allows them to easily post photos, video clips and written posts.
Prior to writing this post, I actually had no idea that many businesses have jumped aboard this social media platform as a way of reaching consumers. They do this as a form of earned marketing, where interesting/relevant content will often be reblogged by users, who then expose the post to all their followers.
Adidas’s Tumblr is one that really kills the game. With no written content at all, the sleek, contemporary blog focuses only on posting street wear fashion photos and short, punchy campaign clips AKA a reblogging-content-gold-mine. In the past, Nike has been outperforming Adidas with its athletic-oriented shoe lines, but this account is just another example of how it’s repositioning and competing against Nike by focusing on being a hip, casual street wear brand rather than a sports-performance brand.
Not typically seen as a “fashion brand”, Target’s blog focuses purely on their line of clothing with uploads of only picture posts, most of which are outfits put together by real bloggers. This not only gives bloggers more of an incentive to photograph their Target outfits in hopes of being featured on their “worldwide blog” (thus increasing the exposure of their own personal blogs), but it also teaches followers how to mix and match the variety of clothes offered at Target, which may sometimes seem overwhelming. Ultimately, it helps shift the perception of Target as just a cheap retailer brand towards a reasonably-priced, but still fashionable everyday brand.
Here’s an interesting (and rather unconventional) one for ya! Denny’s likes to upload a range of strange posts, mostly featuring breakfast-themed pictures, GIFs and memes. Might seem bizarre at first, but their ongoing creative posts indicate their followers enjoy strange (almost ironic?), but fun rebloggable content.
Tumblr’s Rocky Road Ahead
Just as I learn of Tumblr’s different functions and uses do I also find out that while it was flourishing in 2014 (showing rise of 95% in active users), the platform seemed to have come to a plateau after Yahoo’s acquisition. While Tumblr remains a powerful network with accounts that generate powerful content from groups like the LGBT community and the Black Lives Matter movement, Yahoo has found it hard to monetize the site and in 2016 had to write down the value of acquisition by $482 M. I guess the question remains, while Tumblr is able to offer all these forms of blogging, will it eventually be replaced by Twitter, Instagram and Squarespace if it doesn’t find a way to increase its consumer base?