5 ways brand managers can use Tumblr

To some, Tumblr may seem like the bastard child of social media. However, the platform whose users tend to prefer videos, images and GIFs over text is more than just the Internet culture’s playground.

Managers of brands such as Coca-Cola, Whole Foods, “Sesame Street,” MTV and GQ have used Tumblr to reach audiences, finding that high-quality content lives longer and goes further on the fast-moving blogging site.

Here are five ways brand pros can get on board:

1. Tell your stories more easily.

Coca-Cola’s big focus lately is on brand journalism, and the brand’s “Coke Journey” is changing up its old static newsroom with more dynamic content.

All that storytelling isn’t taking place solely on Coke’s site: Brand managers show off self-created marketing pieces along with fan creations on Coke’s Tumblr.

“If a picture paints a thousand words, then Tumblr is the greatest storytelling medium available in the social space,” a Hypebeast writer penned in 2011.

As of January 2014, 163.9 million blogs and 72 billion posts have been created and shared on the site.

2. Reach out to millennials.

Tumblr’s founder, David Karp, said Tumblr users spend an average of 14 minutes per visit, considerably longer than a single visit to Facebook or Twitter. A reported 66 percent of those users are under 35, and 39 percent are under 25, making it a hotspot for millennials to read and share.

A plethora of studies and forecasts have also shown millennials are leaving Facebook in favor of newer social media sites such as Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat.

Time reported a study that predicted Facebook would lose 80 percent of its user base by 2017, and many brand managers are looking to other platforms with Facebook’s increasing “pay to play” model for brand posts.

3. Win big with visuals and GIFs.

A glance at the “Sesame Street” Tumblr will reveal a multitude of pictures, videos and GIFs from iconic characters teamed with celebrities such as One Direction, John Oliver and “Saturday Night Live” star Kate McKinnon.

The visuals are well received: This GIF of Elmo and Ice Cube, for example, has more than 34,600 interactions:

Branding managers should remember Tumblr when they’re making videos and images. They can use it as a content repository and earn more ROI for their effort: The average post gets reblogged about 14 times, and the average sponsored post gets reblogged about 10,000 times, according to Marissa Meyer, CEO of Tumblr’s parent company, Yahoo.

4. Showcase your crowdsourcing prowess.

Whole Foods shoppers know that the customer experience is just as important as the bottles of Kombucha tea or kale chips they buy and put in reusable shopping bags.

To highlight the community behind the specialty grocery store, the branding team created Dark Rye, an online food and sustainability magazine, and a matching Tumblr. The team described the effort as follows:

Dark Rye brings together pioneers of unconventional ideas to explore the edges of the creative life. Here on the Dark Rye Tumblr, we’ll compile a mixtape of their secrets—a daily how-to and counter-convention dose of sass and entrepreneurialism for your own neighborhood.

Not only can you gather innovative ideas and stories from your fans on Tumblr, you can also share these ideas by featuring or reblogging them from your audience.

5. Take a new approach to blogging.

It doesn’t take much for visuals and GIFs from “The Hunger Games” to go viral, but the marketing team behind the film decided to go further than simply sharing on-screen moments.

By creating “Capitol Couture,” a Tumblr blog that showcases fashions from the fictional nation of Panem’s center, the team appeals to both fans of the series and fashionistas.

Tumblr enables social media managers to share thoughts in more than 140 characters and replace a wordy, unpopular corporate blog with something visually appealing and snappy. Brand managers can also take note from “Capitol Couture” and experiment with specific campaigns and themes in order to increase engagement surrounding products and services.

Learn more about PR and marketing strategies on Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram in our #RaganSocial chat tomorrow at 2 p.m. Central. Brand managers from visual marketing suite Curalate will be our guest hosts.

[RELATED: Engage customers, employees and the media in the digital world at our Disney summit.]

Beki Winchel is co-editor of PR Daily. 

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