Content creation expands with new Tumblr and Pinterest features

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Tumblr announced an update Wednesday that will enable users to more easily create long-form blog posts, instead of the picture- and GIF-heavy posts that fill the platform.

“Whatever you want to write—simple things, flashy things, handsome things, trashy things—now you can write the hell out of it,” a Tumblr blog post states.

The move is seemingly an answer to competition from Medium, another blogging platform that has more than 17 million monthly visitors. Though Tumblr has more than 420 million active users with more than 220 million blogs, the new update appeals to writers, not just the visual content creators which Tumblr has in large supply.

That doesn’t mean the social media platform is forgetting its visual appeal. On Jan. 22, the company announced “Creatrs by Tumblr” which aims to team artists with advertisers.

Artists who are part of the “Creatrs” network will have the opportunity to sell their art to brands for use in everything from stickers to television ads. The network already has 300 artists on it, and Tumblr is selecting the best 10 artists to work on the company’s own content and campaigns.

[RELATED: Take your message further with stunning visuals. Learn more at our Visual Communications Conference.]

The New York Times said the network is based on the theory that on social media, “the most popular type of content bubbles up from the members who are most dedicated to using the site.” According to Techcrunch , more than 100 Tumblr blogs have become published books, and consumers are looking for those kinds of digital content.

Tumblr users aren’t the only ones whose content has inspired books. Tiffany Beveridge turned her Pinterest boards about Quinoa—her “imaginary well-dressed daughter”—into a book of the same nature.

On Tuesday, Pinterest announced that “promoted pins,” or advertisements within users’ home feeds, are now open to all U.S.-based ad partners. Pinterest has been testing the service since May 2014 and said pins from advertisers do just as well or better than pins users post.

Pinterest is second to Tumblr in terms of growth, and the visual social media platform increased its membership by 55 percent between June and November 2014. With all those people curating content, Pinterest’s guided search feature has helped users—including brands—more easily find worthwhile content. Kevin Ma, a Pinterest software engineer, said the number of daily searches on Pinterest has increased by 25 percent . The search feature also makes it more friendly to men who are joining Pinterest.

What do these announcements mean for brand managers?

First, they emphasize how much content your consumers and fans create online.

Savvy PR pros and marketers don’t just use social media to share branded content; they search for consumer-created items that can resonate even more than what comes out of a company’s marketing department.

Successful brand managers on Tumblr and Pinterest have found content goes further and fans are more interested when the brand’s online community is involved. Brand journalism plays a huge part as well, as seen with Snapchat’s new “Discover” feature.

Second, these announcements underline the importance of building relationships with individual content creators.

Engagement has always been important online, but brand managers invite new opportunities when they partner with individuals who are skilled with design and other types of content, especially if they have large followings.

PR and marketing pros should be careful to respect the interest of creators and their content; doing so will make creators more willing to work with a brand.

Yahoo learned that lesson in December after the company started selling Flickr Creative Commons photos as canvas prints without giving the artists a portion of its profits.

Yahoo quickly took down the 50 million prints it offered from Flickr photos after artist and consumer backlash. Bernardo Hernandez, Flickr’s vice president, apologized in a blog post and promised to work on “programs that align better with [Flickr’s] community values.”

PR and marketing pros, how do you use the content that’s flourishing online? 

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