Tumblr which calls itself “the easiest way to blog” has seen consistent growth over the last five years. It has surpassed WordPress as the top blogging platform hosting over 100 million blogs and 44 billion posts. While in comparison to sites such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook it has has a relatively small piece of the social media pie (about 6%) its growth cannot be ignored. The most recent QuantCast report shows that 144 million people visited the site in January with 51M of those from the United States. Digiday has some raw stats here.
Tumblr is part content curation, part social and part blogging. Creating a Tumblr is incredibly easy – you can be up and running in minutes. Give them an email, pick a template and you’re ready to go. Here’s a good tutorial.
On Tumblr you can post a variety of content – video, photos, text or combinations. It’s that ease of use that makes Tumblr a good choice for a blog. But the real value in Tumblr comes from its social aspects and shared content. Any post you make can be reblogged by another Tumblr and you can reblog any post from another Tumblr. The end result is that you have the ability to curate content from millions of post that relate to your Tumblr theme. And larger Tumblrs with hundreds of thousands of users can make your content go viral very quickly as seen with the “Binders Full of Women” Tumblr found during the election season.
So with such an easy interface and a large, growing user base why don’t more people use it as part of their PR programs?
Unfortunately Tumblr itself suffers from a bit of a PR problem. Despite its wide use and growth, it is still viewed as a playground young people where content mainly consists of GIFs and NSFW material. Here’s a look at some common misperceptions about Tumblr.
Misperception #1: Tumblr users are all female and young
The site definitely skews young, but a recent Quantcast report shows that 22% of users are between 35-54. The skew on male vs. female depends on where you look. Quantcast has 48 vs. 52 % while Comscore has males slightly ahead. So while there are a lot of young women using Tumblr that’s not the only demographic.
Misperception #2: Tumblr’s content is all GIFS, Comedy and NSFW
There IS a lot of that on Tumblr. But there is a lot of other content that is far more substantial.
Tumblr bloggers regularly publish longer thought pieces on a variety of topics. A quick look at Tumblr spotlight, which highlights high traffic or quality blogs, shows sites such diverse topics as parenting, developers, medicine and technology.
Misperception #3: The big brands are on Pinterest and Facebook not Tumblr
Yes, they are on Facebook and Pinterest. But they are also on Tumblr. Here’s a good look at some of the brands including Coca Cola, Target and Sesame Street. And there are also some sub-brands of interest. For example IBM has IBMblr which highlights its technical innovation. My expertise is technology PR so I’ll note that two sites that cover technology, GigaOm and The Next Web, are on Tumblr.
Misperception #4: We already have a blog or web site so Tumblr is redundant
Tumblr is an easy way to expand the reach of your blog or content site and gain new readers or followers. Many media sites including the Boston Globe, NPR and the Los Angeles Times have Tumblrs that feed back to their web sites. And since Tumblr sites are indexed it also adds to your SEO.
Misperception #5: Commenting and communicating on Tumblr is a pain
This is true is you are looking at the native Tumblr commenting system which requires and awkward “blog and reblog” system. But any Tumblr blog can support Disqus one of the fastest growing commenting systems. Tumblr is also readying a real time chat client from Babblr with some community features. This will enable brands and companies to have the type of real-time conversation that Twitter now enables.
Tumblr may not be a good fit for every PR program but you may find there is more opportunity there than you once thought.