Tumblr for Marketing 101: websites, content, SEO & the kitchen sink

Tumblr is one of the most robust marketing tools in the digital marketplace today. It’s free. And to date, it’s still largely undiscovered by the marketing community.

If you’re not using Tumblr already, you really should.

A social haven – where emo meets authenticity

With a demographic that skews uberyoung – like, half of all its users are under 25 young – it would be easy to write Tumblr off as the next Myspace. The next overly niche, teenage-ridden social network flop in the making.

But that would be incorrect.

To start with, Tumblr has already acquired a large, active userbase. As of May 1, 2014, Tumblr hosts over 184 million blogs and publishes roughly 91 million new posts each day.

Who are these users? The majority of them are teens, tweens and artists who flocked to Tumblr in mass exodus after all the moms, teachers and grandmothers in the world joined Facebook. It’s a space where insecure preteens share their struggles with cutting, where exhausted parents laugh at the hilarity of their toddlers in distress, where artists and designers share their work with a supportive audience, and where aspiring writers toss their #spilledink out into the universe to see how it lands.

There are also plenty of brands – including B2B – joining in the conversation here. I adore, for example, what Whole Foods is doing on Tumblr with its Dark Rye magazine. I want to eat my computer everytime I see their posts.

Engagement is emotion-based

Thanks to its youthful, artistic userbase and ahead-of-its-time multimedia publishing capabilities, Tumblr’s content is uniquely visual in nature. Gif series, photo series, videos, songs, memes and quotes dominate the landscape here, with the occasional poem and nonfiction essay. Because of the creative, visual bent of Tumblr’s content, users engage with content that resounds with them on a gut level. Likes and reblogs are based on a user’s emotional reaction to content.

For marketers, this translates into two key takeaways:

1) Tumblr is an ideal testing ground for content. If your video, meme, photoseries or blog post does or doesn’t resound with its audience, you’ll know right away, because Tumblr users tell you EXACTLY how they feel, and how strongly. It’s kind of their thing.

2) To successfully engage and spread your message on Tumblr, your content must be highly visual, highly creative, and evoke a response on a gut-level.

If you think about it, this is marketing and advertising in its purest state. The self-promotional marketing messaging that’s become SOP on Twitter is completely shunned here; it’s space that’s reserved for self-expression and meaning. For mission-oriented brands willing to put some elbow grease into their content strategy, this offers nothing but opportunity.

All-in-one multimedia content curation & syndication

While traditional blog platforms restrict publishing types to basic text posts, Tumblr gives you seven different ways to post content: text, photo (or photoset – up to 10), quote, links, chat (for those funny dialogues you just have to share), audio (Spotify sync, holla!) and video.

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of WordPress premium themes begin to imitate these capabilities with mirroring post types. This website’s WordPress theme has all seven.

If content curation is an important part of your content strategy, Tumblr eliminates the need for a third party tool. Sharing others’ content is as simple as reblogging, or sharing a link.

Oh – and did I mention Tumblr has a built-in queue with almost limitless scheduling options?


Simple website & blog development made stupid simple (and cheap)

The feature which perhaps makes Tumblr most unique among its social network counterparts is how it functions externally. To the outside user, Tumblr blogs appear as regular websites. There are no visual constraints whatsoever, and you don’t have to be logged in – or even have a Tumblr account, for that matter – to interact with the site. In short, this means that Tumblr can function purely as a website or blog CMS, making its social networking features icing on the cake.

As a non-programmer I have to admit that Tumblr eclipses WordPress not only as a blogging platform, but as a general website platform. It’s not good business to admit this, but creating websites with Tumblr is absurdly easy.

Tumblr’s templates are hands down the simplest I’ve ever encountered. Not being a programmer, customizing website font, colors, logos, footers, analytic code, you name it has always been a treacherous challenge for me, even with the best premium templates. Tumblr’s free and premium templates alike have robust, codeless options for customization. The better the template, the easier the customization.

Tumblr & SEO are closet besties

Last but certainly not least, Tumblr offers some pretty incredible benefits in terms of building links and authority with Google. Reblogged dofollow links, co-citations, the potential for virality and a host of other SEO gems are hidden all over this sly little platform, waiting for experimental SEOs and content creators to discover them.

I won’t go into specifics here, but I encourage you to read @bluechoochoo’s in-depth dialogue about Tumblr’s value here. You can also read my post on using Tumblr for SEO over at Level343.

Now, go Tumblr something, then tell me what you think.