Tumblr is a blogging platform with a difference - it allows users to quickly reblog posts by other users with a click of a button. A Tumblr account is simple to set up, visually appealing, and plugs your business into a platform of millions of users searching for the best in visual inspiration.
But how are small businesses using Tumblr as a marketing and promotion tool? Can you leverage the platform's community to help you promote your own products and services?
As with any social media platform, it depends on the demographics. According to the stats, Tumblr is reaching around 18 million people a month, and it is slightly skewed toward female visitors.
But the key to Tumblr is its simplicity. Tumblr isn't about long blog posts and info-loaded content - it's for quick visual inspiration and consumer lust. Photos, videos, charts, quotes, and Q&As fill Tumblr streams, with users reposting everything that catches their eye.
As such, Tumblr has found favor with fashion companies and college students. Vanessa Gabriel's shopping site aSociete.com is one company reaping the benefits. ASociete offers exclusive discounts on top fashion brands to college students, offering as much as 50 to 80 percent off retail.
Vanessa explains her reasons for founding aSociete: "As a college student myself I know the struggles firsthand of living on a budget. I was inspired by my lack of shopping choices since there was no mall in my local college town, and I was disappointed by the lack of choices that fit my style and budget over the Internet. I created aSociete last summer to be that ultimate shopping solution for college students to have access to the latest fashion brands/trends while still being able to cater to their budget."
Even before she started her business, Vanessa was an avid Tumblr, using the platform to find inspiration for her own personal style. "Once I started aSociete I knew the power Tumblr had with its huge focus on rich content in pictures. We started to use Tumblr to promote the clothes we were selling through our own Tumblr website and also by collaborating with users on Tumblr who have significant followings."
Vanessa partnered up with other Tumblr bloggers, and as they started writing about aSociete, the signups started to come in. "It started to happen organically where random people on Tumblr would post about aSociete and how much they love us. Over 5,000 people came in off one organic post. It is crazy how viral pictures can go on Tumblr if they're trendy and fashionable at that moment."
Vanessa suggests posting pictures of your products to your Tumblr, especially if they're fashion related. "I also suggest businesses target users on Tumblr who have thousands of followers. By collaborating with these people your products get reviewed and these users' followers are likely to buy your product after they see that person vouching for it."
Similar techniques work for other product-based companies. Sharon Gaffney co-founded MeebleMail, a company that transforms everyday email into something special and unique with stylish personalized email stationary. MeebleMail's demographic is women interested in style and design - so naturally, she wanted a visual medium to showcase her company.
So far, Tumblr has proven a successful marketing tool for MeebleMail. "Our main goal was getting the word out about MeebleMail and the email stationery we offer. Tumblr has helped us from a visual standpoint, but has also driven traffic directly to our website."
"We are posting images of our email stationary and other items from our design partners. We typically post images with very short captions," Sharon says, explaining that most Tumblr users prefer images that speak for themselves.
Sharon also points out that there's more to Tumblr than just posting images. "Like the other social media sites, Tumblr requires that you build relationships with other Tumblr users. You do this by tagging your posts so they show up in searches, following other Tumblr users, and reblogging relevant content. We use Tumblr as one of our social media tools in conjunction with Twitter and Facebook. I love Tumblr for the integration with Instagram and because it's visual, just like MeebleMail Email Stationery."
Even if your business isn't image- or product-based, Tumblr enables you to share images that relate to your demographic. Lindsay Lopez, professional pilates instructor and owner of FORM pilates - a boutique pilates studio in New York City - uses Tumblr to offer advice and inspiration. Lindsay understands that her readers are into keeping fit and looking great, so she posts recipes, inspirational pictures, and quotes.
"So far, it's driven more people to my site and I find that more people read it because it's so simple and visual as opposed to a page full of text."
Lindsay first stumbled across Tumblr after a fellow blogger suggested it as an alternative to a WordPress blog. She started in February and is completely hooked. "What I love about Tumblr is that it is aesthetic. It's very visual and it is easy to make a post look fabulous."
So the keys to Tumblr success are no different than to any other social media platform - post, promote, and participate in the community. Tumblr fills a niche by bringing together the best features of blogging and visual-based social media to create a unique platform.
The Tumblr crowd could be a perfect fit for many businesses. Vanessa Gabriel recommends companies try the platform and measure results to see if it works for them. "Tumblr is a great resource to promote your products and merchandise to thousands of people, increasing sales and user base. I truly believe Tumblr is an untapped marketing goldmine that has yet to truly be capitalized by many companies. It's done awesome for us!"
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Ekaterina Walter is a Partner and CMO at Branderati. She is a social media trailblazer and an author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller "Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg." A recognized business and marketing thought leader, she is a sought-after international speaker and a regular contributor to leading-edge print and online publications. Ekaterina has been consistently recognized by the industry and her peers for her innovative thinking, most recently receiving a Marketer of the Year honor (2013 SoMe Awards). She sits on a Board of Directors of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and is an active member of the Thunderbird Global Council at Thunderbird School of Global Management. You can follow her on Twitter: @Ekaterina.
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