It seems like the phrase "content is king" was made expressly for social media. You'd be hard pressed to find a place that's more evident than on Tumblr, where content is not only king, but the entire kingdom.
For all of the uniqueness of Tumblr, including a terminology all its own, its popularity is grounded in its ability to efficiently serve up engaging content. Because of that, Tumblr has become a place where visitors spend an inordinately large amount of time.
Internet users, studies show, spend a surprising 14 minutes more per Tumblr visit than they do with either Facebook or Twitter. Tumblr is becoming an increasingly popular destination, growing by 74 percent in the 2013 alone. But despite this activity, it hasn't seen large-scale brand adoption. Only 31 of the top 100 Fortune 100 brands are currently using the platform.
It's hard to believe a site with more than 164 million blogs and 72 billion posts could fly under the radar to this degree. But then, marketers are a relatively cautious bunch. Part of their hesitation could be linked to the level of commitment that a Tumblr campaign requires. To use it, and use it well, brands must provide new, interesting, and engaging content on an ongoing basis.
This requirement makes Tumblr a natural fit for brands in the fashion, food, entertainment, and technology categories, where this type of content is readily available. Many brands in these categories are using Tumblr quite effectively, one of them being Apple. In marketing its iPhone 5C to young consumers, the normally social media-averse brand chose Tumblr as its primary platform, running a video-focused campaign.
The isee5c Tumblr by Apple promoted the release of the iPhone 5 Color by humanizing a mobile device with eye-catching colors and familiar sounds that resonate with the passions and hobbies of its target audience. Each color block unveils a surprise when you click on it, like the sound of a baseball game, with simple but engaging polka dot graphics that highlight the bright, sleek design of the phone. Apple understands that the majority of people lose interest in long videos, so it kept each clip only a few seconds long. This makes its Tumblr more inviting and consumers more likely to remain on the page to watch them all.
Apple's Tumblr is a good example of the importance of having platform-friendly content. Whether it's an evergreen GIF, video, or photo, content is the key to Tumblr, not only for generating initial awareness but long-term engagement as well. While posts and tweet engagement levels can dissipate quickly on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, on Tumblr almost two-thirds of reblogs occur more than a day after the initial post, and 24 percent occur for posts made more than two months earlier.
Additionally, brands not on Tumblr are missing an opportunity to capitalize on the search function Tumblr has to offer. Similar to hashtags, Tumblr "tags" are used as keywords that make it easier for users to find posts related to a certain category or topic. For instance, if someone wants to look up or follow a theme, tags become crucial to making posts visible and gaining subscribers. Even though the isee5c Tumblr doesn't have the word Apple in its title, a simple search will bring it up as the first blog to follow in connection with the Apple brand.
While utilizing tags can help generate exposure, the fact that 98 percent of engagement on Tumblr happens with image-based content (including videos and GIFs) again places the priority on having a strategic content and tagging strategy. By implementing an effective content strategy, several marketers have found a way to provide a truly unique Tumblr view of their brands.
The ADIDAS Tumblr makes you want to scroll through the entire page to see what surprises are in store. It's visually hypnotizing; while some posts feature only the brand's products, these are scattered sufficiently enough that you don't feel like the brand is pushing a hard sell.
This all-encompassing news outlet knows how to stay relevant with everything pop culture and world news. Its Tumblr account is focused on sharing content that is or will be trending, like the latest episode of "Game of Thrones." HuffPost knows what people are buzzing about around the water cooler and takes advantage of that to create posts its followers will be likely to reblog and share with friends. And Huffington Post has a huge content advantage over other brands with regard to what topics it can post about, as it isn't restricted to a single product or service.
Whole Foods (Dark Rye)
While many brands only share content they themselves create, Whole Foods and its Dark Rye Magazine do an impressive job of establishing engagement by reposting a plethora of material from followers. This has allowed Dark Rye to go beyond the mundane recipe guide to become a blog designed with the clear goal of sharing inspirational works of art, whether they feature food or not.
It may not be able to control keeping the AC on in its stadiums, but the NBA excels at keeping its content engaging on Tumblr. Its Through the Lens Tumblr provides timely video, photographic and behind the scenes content. During the Finals, the league created "mini movies" of each Finals game. These videos are reminiscent in style to some of the popular NFL Films videos that offered unique insight into the game by featuring exclusive content not seen during the broadcast, along with highlights like team huddles and player conversations. For a casual fan, NBA's Tumblr provides an interesting point of view, but it's the optimal online destination for ardent basketball junkies.
While the Disney Tumblr includes a vast array of content focused on the iconic characters and movies synonymous with the Disney brand, the Disney-Pixar blog provides a glimpse into how some of the more recent films were created. With storyboard drawings and concept art from such hits such as "Cars"; GIFs from favorites such as "Finding Nemo"; and photos from new classics like "Toy Story," "Up," and "The Incredibles"; the Disney-Pixar Tumblr provides an engaging mix of new and exclusive content.
Not surprisingly, marketing-savvy Coca-Cola has created through Tumblr yet another effective social media effort by blending an engaging collection of humorous GIFs with classic photos and ads, unique product shots, and user-generated content. And, as you would expect from Coke, its Tumblr page is integrated with its other social channels through links from GIFs that drive users to content on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Coca-Cola uses tags like #LOL, #MOVE, #DIY, and #QUOTE to increase awareness of its content and engagement with its posts.
By using content categories like PLAY, FLY, CREATE, and INSPIRE, the Red Bull Tumblr serves up a mix of GIFs, videos, and photos perfectly in line with its creative and high-energy brand positioning. Within the FLY channel, users can find GIFs of surfboards, mountain bikes, skateboarders, and even snowmobilers catching some air. While INSPIRE features beautiful imagery, some of it mixed with inspirational quotes, CREATE is an eclectic mix of art with some subtle product branding. PLAY, meanwhile, is a catch-all for everything Red Bull -- a mix of extreme sports, a dog in sunglasses, and, of course, actor Ian McKellen falling asleep in character as Gandolf in Lord of the Rings. That's one entertaining catch-all.
And in essence, that's what Tumblr is meant to be: a unique experiential hub where content, in its vast and entertaining array of forms, rules.
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"Close up of Tumblr website" image via Shutterstock.