Lessons in Content Creation From 5 Brand Tumblrs

A top trend of 2015 will be content creation. That’s according to David Hayes, and as the head of creative strategy for Tumblr, he’s a little biased. Still, his implication that a brand’s ability to publish quality “micro-content” – snackable content that consumers can access throughout the day – will propel it forward in the year to come has legs. And Tumblr’s certainly equipped to help.

Hayes wants brands to use Tumblr as a home base and syndicate their content to other social channels, which he says Tumblr doesn’t view as competitors but part of an overall “social mix.” Brands approach the Tumblr publishing movement in different ways, whether it’s by using Tumblr to reach a young and engaged audience, to support an ad campaign, or to demonstrate their expertise. Let’s take a look at five brands that are making content creation on the social site that boasts 91.9 million daily posts count.

1. The White House

You know a social network has realized legitimacy when it’s adopted by the White House. The White House Tumblr went live in 2013 with the promise of plenty of GIFs, and recently a list of its most popular offerings was featured on The White House Blog.

GIFs aside, the White House is using its Tumblr page to take questions from the public about education and student loans, gather questions for interviews with YouTube influencers like Bethany Mota and Hank Green, address President Obama’s efforts to help Americans access faster broadband, and share candid photos taken behind-the-scenes. According to reports the page has some 217,000 followers. If the nature of its ongoing content is any indication, it’s actively connecting with Tumblr’s coveted audience of bright, young users.


2. McDonald’s

By now most of us have seen the new McDonald’s commercial that aired during the NFL playoffs and Golden Globes. “Signs” featured the Golden Arches in tandem with messages related to local customers, natural disasters, and even national tragedies.

The ad has been hotly debated online, but by using Tumblr to disseminate its TV content McDonald’s increases its odds of identifying and connecting with fans who’ll appreciate the messaging as it stands. Photos and video, largely culled from the commercial, drive a visual marketing strategy that puts strong imagery first. And by enhancing the images with additional information about what the company is doing to support communities (offering discounts to loyal customers, sponsoring fundraisers for a military base elementary school), McDonald’s makes some headway in deflecting attention from its less appealing traits.

3. IBM

As a micro-blogging platform Tumblr may be best suited to images, videos, and animated GIFs, but let’s not forget that it has huge potential as a resource for carefully curated articles, too. IBM primarily uses its four Tumblr pages – IBMblr, A Smarter Planet, Smarter Cities, and The Social Business – to share articles. IBMblr and The Social Business offer thought-leadership materials like employee-penned articles and branded infographics, while A Smarter Planet and Smarter Cities share stories about microelectromechanical systems, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. This two-pronged strategy uses brand-produced content and valuable news about the innovation marketplace to remind consumers that the company is on the leading edge of tech.


4. Ikea

If showcasing a product line is your brand’s predominant goal, Ikea’s Tumblr can offer inspiration that goes beyond interior design. Each day the company posts a “daily dose of inspiration” that features individual products in the context of lifestyle tips, do-it-yourself projects, and entertaining advice. Many of its posts are product hacks: connect four LISEL rugs to create a huge one, use the ÄPPLARÖ storage bench to hide gardening gear. Ikea’s design-centric, “maker” image is reflected throughout the page.

What really makes this content strategy stellar, however, is its reliability. Followers know they’ll see a new post every day, and Ikea consistently delivers useful information that its customers can apply to their own homes and lives.


5. iTunes

Apple’s December launch of a Tumblr devoted to iTunes was extensively covered, in part because of its timely content. Through categories that include music, movies, TV, and books, Apple has been sharing best-of content from 2014, including custom-made videos. Recently, it updated its content to honor the 2015 Academy Award nominees.

Apple has an advantage in that its iTunes products are just the kind of thing Tumblr users are apt to share, but it’s also being smart about mixing current content with iconic and nostalgic imagery it knows will speak to followers. GIFs of actress and writer Lena Dunham share the page with quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fan art related to books and films, and posts about bands whose work is newly available on iTunes.


How does Tumblr fit into your content strategy? Look to these pages to help you find your place on a social network that’s quickly evolving from a supplementary distribution tool to a chief publishing hub for brands.

Related reading

Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.