Why You Should Care About Tumblr (And Why You Shouldn’t)

Tumblr. Heard of it? It’s a nifty, micro-blogging website that takes the best parts of Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, then mercilessly mashes them altogether.

More than anything, it looks like an interactive copyright violation.

But this interactive copyright violation has been picking up steam. I’ve wanted to write about it for a month, especially after some recent studies, because I’ve wanted to start experimenting with its potential marketing impact… but there’s one small difficulty.

First, let’s go over the basics about why you should care about Tumblr in the first place:

The numbers

What it’s like: If Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and WordPress got together and had a baby.

What people are using it for

Tumblr is the definition of content curation. A blog post you write can be reblogged across the Tumblr-o-sphere with the press of a button (hence: the interactive copyright violation, if the internet cared about those things).

You may also notice by going to Tumblr.com that it’s much more visual than other blog services. Most posts are brief and to the point.

Kinda bad because… 

It’s a lot, well, less professional, because things can get lost in the mix so quickly. In fact, it reminds me of nothing more than Facebook’s early days, when it was restricted to college students and people posted whatever they felt like, all of the time.

Like with Pinterest, attribution can be tough. And, unlike Facebook, Tumblr doesn’t force users to identify themselves beyond an anonymous handle… at least not yet.

In fact, the Los Angeles Times recently reported that “teens embracing new services [like Tumblr] say they’d rather use aliases than real names.”

What does that mean?

If you have a business page, you could get unwanted input from someone like StinkySock23. Or maybe StinkySock23 has some brilliant insights, but, either way, you don’t know whether s/he is friend or foe, customer or prospect.

This more or less hamstrings the entire attraction of social media for businesses in the first place: targeted & informed marketing.

Why you should care

I’ve got to reiterate the fact about WordPress vs. Tumblr. Think about it: WordPress has been around for four extra years and only has 3 million extra blogs.  

That makes sense, considering the AddThis study showed that Tumblr is growing like crazy, having Tumblr content sharing skyrocket by 1299.5% in 2011.

Tumblr’s growth rate is also faster, because bloggers interact with each other a lot more and blog posts are less of a commitment (i.e. way more casual).

In fact, interaction is less of a committment, since you can reblog a blog post or just “favorite” it.

Users are active, too. Hence the low attrition rate. Visiting some blogs is like stumbling into a casino in Vegas: it’s all lights, flashy things, and over-stimulation, wherever you look.

If you’re going to have a Tumblr, by God you better have pictures. LOTS of pictures.

It’s a young person’s world on Tumblr. If you’re trying to reach Generation Y and Generation Z, then you may want to consider experimenting.

Why you shouldn’t care

I’ll admit it, I don’t have a Tumblr. I regret it a little, because user engagement is so high. Frankly, it may even be easier to generate blog traffic via Tumblr than WordPress. I’m not sure.

It’s not that I didn’t try. A few months ago, I got interested in trying Tumblr for myself.  I eagerly signed up and then tried to “customize” the appearance.

Tumblr sternly informed me that I needed to click the verification email that had been sent to my address. I checked and… alas, no email.

Despite all my best efforts, this has been the case for the past few months, whether I piteously request a new email from the Tumblr server overlords or not.

Seems like I’m not the only one having this problem, either.

This shows some serious growing pains, but since Tumblr combines so many of the RIGHT things other social media networks do – without getting caught in a lot of the bad ones – everyone should keep an eye on it in the following months.

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