By Amy @BubbleJobs
As an SEO and digital marketer, I’d like to think I’m pretty savvy when it comes to social media. As a fan of the original MySpace first time round, I’ve since gone through a very public love affair with Facebook, dabbled with Google+ and am currently pretty addicted to Twitter. As a business we’re also currently mixing things up with Vine and it goes without saying that we’re also pretty reliant on LinkedIn…. but there’s one social network I’ve struggled to get my head around, both from a personal perspective and from a business perspective – I am of course talking about Tumblr.
One of the fastest growing social networks of the last few years, Tumblr’s micro-blogging platform is undeniably pretty popular at the moment and can be described as a bit of a hybrid between things like Facebook, Twitter and Blogger. Currently home to more than 77 million blogs, Tumblr is the social network of choice for teenagers across the world due to the fact users can quickly and easily share and find content – but it’s not just teenagers that use it. In fact, Beyonce and President Obama are just a couple of the world’s biggest stars that have their own Tumblr sites… other celeb fans include Lady GaGa, Zooey Deschanel and Britney Spears.
Hmm, so Tumblr’s definitely got something going for it – after all, some of the world’s biggest names have accounts on the site – but just what is it? A closer look at Tumblr reveals it’s really nothing like Twitter or Facebook at all – and I think that’s probably the appeal! While Twitter and Facebook are great for telling your friends what you had for lunch or sharing pictures, Tumblr seems to be more about following your interests and finding similar, like-minded people. The focus seems to be more on interaction and freedom rather than broadcasting… it’s more to do with being able to express yourself without judgement – something which has definite appeal in today’s media-hungry world.
Just like Pinterest, Tumblr’s all about visuals. It’s about compelling images, exciting videos and short, concise content that users can really connect with. It’s about sharing and (this is the important bit) not necessarily looking for anything in return. Unlike Twitter, as far as I can tell Tumblr seems to be all give, not much take – something which I think you’ll agree is pretty rare when it comes to social networks these days.
OK, so Tumblr’s definitely got it’s own thing going on and it’s definitely a useful social network – but it is suitable for commercial use? Can brands use it to increase their presence and, more importantly, would anyone connect with a brand via Tumblr? I’m tempted to say ‘maybe’- but only in certain circumstances. In truth, Tumblr’s whole appeal is that it’s pretty private and niche – and, crucially, pretty much untapped as far as business goes. Users go on Tumblr to get away from the commercialism found on Twitter and Facebook, they go there for freedom and privacy – hastily shoving together a quick Tumblr and posting offer after offer just isn’t going to work.
Of course, that’s not to say brands aren’t trying – and, in fact, Tumblr’s encouraging them to get involved. A quick search of Tumblr is enough to bring you shed-loads of companies who all have Tumblr accounts and a Google search brings up hundreds of blogs with tips on how businesses can use Tumblr but I’m just not convinced it’s a great option for everyone. While Tumblr could be a great platform for a quirky graphic designer or photographer, I just don’t think its format is suited to a whopping great commercial brand who’s more interested in ROI on social media than connecting with users on a personal level. In my opinion, Tumblr’s a great platform for niche designers, photographers and creatives but should probably be left well alone by commercial businesses who don’t actually have all that much to offer the platform’s proportionately young audience.
To sum up, I’m not afraid to say I still don’t ‘get’ Tumblr 100% – but maybe that’s more to do with me as an individual than the platform itself or the way it’s set up. Interestingly though, a quick survey of my colleagues and friends reveals none of them have ever used it or really understand it either so maybe I’m not alone… maybe Tumblr is the social network for the generation below mine, or even the generation below that?!
What do you think? Are you a big fan of Tumblr and if so, why? Similarly, we’re interested to hear from businesses who have attempted to use Tumblr for commercial purposes – did you find success or was it a waste of time? Get in touch at @BubbleJobs.