In the Spotlight: Tumblr

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.In order to compete, it is becoming more important for brands to have a presence on social networking sites.

When it comes to social media, a lot of focus has been placed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more recently, Google+.

However, brands, particularly those that are targeting consumers age 18 to 34, should keep an eye on Tumblr.

According to a recent Nielsen study, titled “State of the Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011,” Tumblr nearly tripled its audience in the last year. In fact, it has become the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

The Nielsen study also states that, “An analysis of online buzz by NM Incite shows that Tumblr is also a popular conversation topic, generating an average of 21,280 messages and links per day to the site during May 2011, spreading critical word-of-mouth fueling its viral growth.”

What is Tumblr?

The Tumblr “About us” page answers that question like this: “Millions of people sharing the things they do, find, love, think, or create.”

The Nielsen study that I mentioned above describes Tumblr by saying that it combines elements of blogging and Twitter and allows users to post and customize everything from pictures and videos to links and quotes.

A recent blog post on, titled “Should You Be on Tumblr? Seven Business Case Examples,” has a pretty good explanation of Tumblr. You might want to check it out.

Who’s on Tumblr?

My last two posts put forth ideas that were supported by Gary Vaynerchuk’s work. Therefore, I feel it’s necessary to mention that he is a big Tumblr fan. In fact, his main site,, is powered by Tumblr.

Many celebrities have also taken a liking to Tumblr, including Katy Perry, John Mayer, Josh Groban, John Legend, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to name a few.

However, celebrities are not the only ones who are using Tumblr.

Your customers are as well… and lots of them.

As I mentioned earlier, according Nielsen, Tumblr is the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

This makes Tumblr a site to watch and be on if you want to reach your customers where they hang out.

This is particularly true if you are selling products or services to consumers age 18 to 34.

In fact, according the Nielsen study that I mentioned earlier, 44.4% of Tumblr’s U.S. audience is age 18 to 34 and an additional 12.9% are age 2 to 17.

What might be even more important is the fact that Tumblr is gaining users, not losing them.

Brands Currently on Tumblr

The blog post on that I mentioned earlier points out that Oscar De La Renta, Ann Taylor, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Huggies, Milkmade Ice Cream, Somebody’s Mother’s, IBM, The Museum of Useful Things, Doctors Without Borders and Newsweek are all on Tumblr.

A post of, titled “60 Brands Using Tumblr,” also has a list that you can use to see what other brands are doing with Tumblr.

My Thoughts on Tumblr

I started using Tumblr in September, 2010, for a 365 photoblog, titled “A Year of Yesterdays.”

The concept was to publish one photograph each day that was taken the previous day, thus “A Year of Yesterdays.”

In the process of posting photos, mostly of buildings in Atlanta, and later Central Wisconsin and Minnesota, I noticed that photos of certain buildings and restaurants were frequently getting reblogged.

Nothing viral, mind you, but enough to get me thinking that beloved local bars and restaurants, like The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia, should definitely have a presence on Tumblr.

The same holds true for popular brands.

People are already sharing photos of products and brand logos on Tumblr.

Why not give them additional photos to help get your message out?

I think that the author of the post on is correct when he says that, “short, highly visual blog posts tend to do much better than text-intensive posts.”

If your brand does choose to use Tumblr, remember to keep in mind the audience who uses the site.

The fact that Tumblr tends to attract a younger audience may be a result of this age group’s willingness to try out new sites. However, it might also be an indication that they are looking for a social networking site that their parents are not on. In other words, Tumblr users may be looking for an alternative to Facebook.

With this in mind, in addition to having visually appealing posts, I’d also suggest trying to keep your content cool, youthful and fun with the hopes that it will get shared by the Gen Y audience.


As Nielsen states, “Tumblr is an emerging player in social media, nearly tripling its audience from a year ago.”

That alone should make brands take note, and at least consider establishing a presence on the site.

Tumblr makes it easy to share content, and many of your customers are already doing so.

So, why not make it easier for them to let others know about your product or service by giving them great content that they can easily share on Tumblr?

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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  • Vicki JOyal

    It was only a matter of time before young people started moving away from Facebook to another social networking site. When they heard I was using FB, my sons (ages 20 and 21) rolled their eyes and instantly decided it was time for their FB sites to stagnate and die. Isn’t it possible that young adults will get irritated with businesses/brands that seem to follow them wherever they go on the Web?

    • Chad Thiele


      You bring up two interesting points.

      The first point is about young people leaving Facebook.

      Earlier this year, a lot of people were talking about Facebook’s growth slowing, or even worse, Facebook losing membership in North America. There were many explanations given and some people even debated the accuracy of the numbers.

      Either way, Facebook still has a lot of users. In fact, according to comScore, 75% of the total U.S. Internet population visited Facebook in September of this year.

      Although the numbers vary by source, according to an article published in March 2011, it looks like over half (55%) of U.S. Facebook users are age 18 to 34 and an additional 10% are age 13 to 17.

      That points to the fact that Facebook still has a lot of young users.

      (However, I do agree with you that Facebook will eventually go the way of Myspace and people will move on to something else. The question is not if, but when.)

      With that said, I think the current issue is how often younger users choose to share on Facebook and what they choose to share.

      Although some experts suggest that Gen Y is more open with their parents than other generations, I think that there is always going to be a need for a place where young adults can share information with their friends that their parents don’t have access to or knowledge of.

      As your example points out, young adults might not be as likely to share the same information if they think that it is being monitored by their parents and they may, in fact, delete their account. However, other young adults might still visit Facebook on a regular basis, but choose not to share everything that they do on other social networks, like Tumblr. In other words, young adults might have a social network to connect with family, one for friends, one for coworkers, one for everyone, etc.

      If I find any additional stats or data to support my opinion, I will let you know.

      On your other point about young adults getting irritated by brands that seem to go everywhere they go, the real issue is in the way that the brand maintains its presence on social networking sites, not whether they have one.

      Most experts agree that brands/businesses should have a presence online where their customers are.

      And, many experts feel that customers have begun to expect that brands/businesses have a presence on social networking sites, similar to the way that most people expect brands/businesses to have a phone number, email and website.

      (Although the numbers are a little stale, a 2008 study by Cone Communications states that 93% of social media users thought that a company should have a presence in social media. If I find newer numbers, I will blog about it.)

      Again, it’s how the brand communicates that can be an issue. If brands use standard “push” advertising, this could be perceived as spamming and could hurt the brand’s image (and in the process, decrease sales—particularly in the long term. I plan to blog about this soon.)

      Instead, many of the experts that I have heard speak suggest providing great content and making the brand available to consumers when they want it or need it.

      Therefore, in the case of Tumblr, brands having a Tumblr page that provides cool content that consumers could reblog and add comments to would be seen as a benefit. (And, by users reblogging the content, they would act as brand advocates, telling their friends about your product or service for you. You might want to click on the photo in the post to see how this might happen.)

      Consumers would only see the brand’s content if they searched for it (or something related to it) or followed the brand on Tumblr. And, again, if the audience finds the content useful, it will help the brand, not hurt it.

      There are other things that experts suggest when communicating via social networks. But that would make for a few good blog posts. So, I will save that information until later. If you are interested, Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, titled “The Thank You Economy,” is a good resource for suggestions about using social media for business. It has a lot of good case studies. (I mentioned it in the last blog post.)

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you for your comment.

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