Tumblr has become the Internet’s blog darling, with more than 60 million accounts worldwide. Its users are also highly engaged and eager to interact with compelling content, so it’s no wonder why major brands have flocked to the platform. As a small business owner, those facts might persuade you to quickly switch over, too.
But before hopping on yet another platform, there are a few things to consider, especially if you’re already running an established blog elsewhere.
First of all, platform adoption depends on your initial goal: Are you looking for engagement, awareness and advocacy? How heavily would you rely on Tumblr as a business? Is it an integral source of revenue or data, or more of a place to communicate and engage?
We’ve broken down a few advantages and setbacks to Tumblr from a brand’s perspective. Are you already on Tumblr? What advice do you have for someone considering the platform? Share your tips in the comments.
1. It’s User-Friendly
For any people new to the blogging world, Tumblr is advantageous because it’s so user-friendly. All of the features are apparent in the dashboard, which makes it simple to navigate. You don’t have to fuss around with too many clicks to get to where you want to go, and very little tweaking needs to be made if you’re interested in a customized appearance. Plus, the sleek mobile app means you can update your blog on the fly.
The default theme on Tumblr has more aesthetic freedom than a lot of other blogging platforms, but there are also plenty of pre-packaged themes to choose from — many look less like a blog and more like your own website. Because most are free, Tumblr is a great platform for anyone who can’t afford to hire a designer or developer.
2. It’s More Social
Given that people may be searching the term “Tumblr” on Google more than the word “blog” by the end of 2012, it’s safe to say that popularity is one major advantage for brands.
Tumblr is naturally more social than most blog platforms, and its audience is highly engaged — they will not be shy about interacting with your brand, as long as you provide them with captivating content.
That being said, keep in mind that Tumblr users want to see your brand’s personality. This is nice for many companies because it allows them to be more creative, but can be a challenge for others who aren’t used to thinking outside of the box. If your company is interested in producing interesting content that engages users and doesn’t adhere to the formality of most corporate blogs, then Tumblr is the place for you. In fact, some of the best examples of branded accounts are the ones that break the more corporate mold.
For example, Internet Explorer’s Tumblr has a nontraditional sense of humor, claiming to be the “browser you loved to hate.” Yet, the page is still informational, and it engages the audience by pulling tweets from users who are reluctant to claim approval of the new browser.
3. It’s Categorized
Tumblr’s tag system is categorized into several popular topics: art, tech, education, fashion and advertising, among others.
Depending on what your company does, there’s already a community that’s been filtered. This navigates brands to the right audience, saving time and energy when you want to build a following.
So, let’s say you run a small advertising firm. There’s an “Advertising” tag that’s curated by community managers, and it’s easily accessible and available for you to neatly categorize your blog to target the right audience. There’s no vacuum and no mystery; viewers who are interested in advertising will come to you.
The tag system is useful for brands because if used properly, their content has a chance to be showcased. Plus, if you’re feeling uninspired, the tag dashboard becomes tailored to your area of interest, so you always have relevant content to pull from.
1. There’s a Lack of Analytics
Although you can sync a third-party app like Google Analytics to your Tumblr, there are no features that will reveal Tumblr-specific statistics.
Through referral analytics, brands can know how many people are visiting and sharing the site outside of Tumblr, but a lot of users only interact through their dashboard. As a result, analytics don’t accurately reflect the number of people who interact with your content. For example, if a post gets reblogged 200 times, there’s no way to tell how many people total saw it on the dashboard the way Facebook’s analytics feature can (via “reach”).
You can view Tumblr “notes” (“likes,” reblogs) individually, but that requires a lot of time — especially since the two forms of activity aren’t separated within each post.
2. It’s Unreliable
If Tumblr’s server goes down, it is out of your hands and there’s no way to help ameliorate the situation until the website comes back up. That can be scary, especially if you rely on the platform for ecommerce or to keep the business running. Once the site is back up, the functionality tends to be a little shaky, and it could remain that way for hours or even days.
Over the years, Tumblr has grown from a small community of users to hosting more than 60 million blogs, and stability has been an issue time and again. In 2010, the company had a major issue with its database clusters and the
site was down for more than 14 hours as a result of this instability.
Thanks to the platform’s fast growth, the company has expanded its servers and support team. The site has yet to experience an outage like in 2010, but it’s an important consideration for businesses.
3. There’s a Lack of Native Comment Functionality
Tumblr is one of the most social blogging platforms, but there is no native commenting system.
Users can message blogs, send “fan mail” or ask questions, but that is at the brand’s discretion to allow, and there’s no way to comment on an individual post without a third-party app.
Alternatively, the brand can ask followers questions, but there’s a specific post format for that. Another way to get around it is ending a post with a question mark — on the edit page, a box will appear at the right that opens the post for commentary.
So, Now What?
In short, if you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly way to outreach and engage, then Tumblr is a fairly good platform for you to do so.
However, if you need control of data and rely on a blog for your business to run as a whole, it might be safer to hire a professional or develop your own website. You could then use Tumblr as an additional platform and still interact with its highly engaged audience. C. Erickson