Should You Be on Tumblr? Seven Business Case Examples

social media toolsAre you looking for an effortless blogging platform for your business? Tumblr has 30 million+ blogs and is business-friendly.

It easily supports text, images and videos from your mobile phone, browser or desktop.

Read how seven businesses created interesting blogs using Tumblr.

How Tumblr Works

With more than 10 billion posts and 30 million blogs, Tumblr is quickly becoming a force in the world of social media. It combines the social sharing of Twitter and Facebook with a clean, easy-to-use blogging platform.

sign up tumblr

One advantage of Tumblr is its simplicity and ease of use.

Users choose to “follow” other Tumblr blogs that appear in their dashboard much like an RSS feed. They can then “reblog” to their own Tumblr feed. This reblog feature encourages the redistribution of content, which can spread quickly if it’s interesting.

follow tumblr blogs

Tumblr allows you to "follow" blogs that appear in the dashboard like an RSS feed.

Tumblr users can also open their blogs to submissions from readers, which has led to some very creative Tumblr sites (Dear Photograph, Unhappy Hipsters and Clients from Hell are some of my personal favorites).

Tumblr is not for everyone. The audience tends to be younger, so short, highly visual blog posts tend to do much better than text-intensive posts. If you have trouble obtaining quality photographs and video, Tumblr may not be for you.

However, the quick setup and simplicity of Tumblr may make it a good choice for those who want to get a blog up and running right now. There is very little learning curve and although it doesn’t have the power of WordPress, it’s also much easier to use.

The fashion industry was one of the first to embrace Tumblr from a business perspective. Brands like Oscar De La Renta and Ann Taylor capitalized on the visual nature of Tumblr by publishing photos of the latest fashions, insider pictures and quick bits from the fashion world.

oscar pr girl

Oscar De La Renta is one of many in the fashion industry to utilize Tumblr.

Media companies such as the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone Magazine have also found their spots on Tumblr providing tidbits and teases to larger stories on their main website.

rolling stone

Rolling Stone uses Tumblr to lead readers to their main website.

For those considering Tumblr as a publishing platform, it’s important to spend some time exploring Tumblr to get a feel for the tone and nature of the Tumblr audience.

To get you started, here are seven businesses that have created interesting Tumblr blogs.

#1: Highchair Critics: Spit up, Bits and Pieces From the Baby News Network

Everyone loves cute baby pictures and who better to provide them than a diaper company? Huggies takes full advantage of the cuteness factor with their Tumblr site, Highchair Critics, where they share all things baby.

On a typical visit, you’ll find everything from “I just can’t help but share” baby videos to quick thoughts and tips for new parents to pregnant celebrity photos. Highchair Critics has it all. Interspersed throughout are contests that you can enter by “reblogging” posts from the site. If ever there was a site teeming with viral content, this is it.

highchair critics

Huggies packs their Tumblr with content designed to go viral.

#2: Adventures in Ice Cream

Milkmade Ice Cream, which specializes in gourmet ice cream delivery in the New York City area, uses their Tumblr site, Adventures in Ice Cream, to publish daily photos of ice cream that would make anyone drool.

The simplicity of it is appealing—mainly high-quality images of delicious-looking ice cream mixed in with an occasional update about company activity. Naturally, they make and sell each ice cream flavor pictured. Follow it long enough and you’ll be requesting delivery to your area.

adventures in ice cream

High-quality photos of delicious-looking ice cream helped Milkmade Ice Cream gain recognition on Tumblr.

#3: Somebody’s Mother’s

I’m a big advocate of self-hosted blogs directly incorporated into a company’s website. Not only can they provide a big boost in the search engine rankings, they can also be used to direct readers to other parts of a company website.

Somebody’s Mother’s, a company specializing in chocolate and caramel dessert sauces, has found a way to take advantage of the social sharing elements of Tumblr while directly incorporating Tumblr into their website.

somebody's mother's

Somebody's Mother's creates a seamless transition between Tumblr and their main website.

Using a custom Tumblr design, Somebody’s Mother’s, creates a seamless transition between their website and Tumblr blog. Tumblr readers can easily move from the Tumblr blog to the website and back (and vice versa) and never notice that they left Tumblr.

Like Adventures in Ice Cream, Somebody’s Mother’s uses plenty of easy-to-share content and high-quality photos of delicious-looking desserts.

#4: A Smarter Planet

IBM’s A Smarter Planet looks more like a traditional blog, but instead of long, in-depth articles, it’s filled with short posts, photos and videos all based around science and technology. The shorter posts on A Smarter Planet are optimized for the Tumblr dashboard and provide enough “oh wow” factor to encourage sharing.

smarter planet

IBM's A Smarter Planet looks more like a traditional blog.

#5: The Museum of Useful Things

The Museum of Useful Things sells “well made utilitarian items” that range from aluminum pushpins to clamping camera tripods. Their blog features a variety of art, design and other interesting items that make you say, “Yeah, I could use something like that.”

Recent items featured on the blog include a paper clip/USB drive, a photography exhibit and a magnetic nail holder designed to prevent swollen thumbs.

Interspersed are posts about products they sell. They publish enough related content that their own products seem to fit right into the mix.

museum of useful things

The Museum of Useful Things presents an interesting collection of art and design.

#6: Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders uses a combination of photos and quotes to convey their humanitarian message. Using a two-column format, the majority of posts are split between photos with short captions and quotes from longer field reports from trouble spots such as Somalia and Pakistan.

Most posts link to larger reports or slide shows on their main site but the combination of the quotes and pictures can be quite effective.

doctors without borders

Doctors Without Borders uses photos and quotes to draw in readers.

#7: Newsweek

Yes, they’re a big media company, but Newsweek has found a way to create a unique and creative voice that speaks to the Tumblr audience.

Informal, humorous and sometimes poignant, the success of Newsweek on Tumblr demonstrates the importance of understanding your audience.

newsweek

Newsweek has found a voice that speaks to the Tumblr audience.

Tumblr isn’t for everyone. The audience tends to be a bit edgy and it can be difficult for those without the means to produce visual content. Regardless, for the right organization, Tumblr’s ease of use, viral nature and active users can provide a powerful publishing platform.

What do you think? Do you use Tumblr for business or know of another business that is making Tumblr work for them? Tell us about it in the comments box below.

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About the Author, Jim Lodico

Jim Lodico is a copywriter and marketing consultant specializing in creating powerful content and teaching businesses how to use blogs. You can follow him on Twitter @jlcommunication. Other posts by »




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  • http://JennaWaites.com Jenna Waites

    I looked into to Tumblr in the past however, I too am a big proponent of self-hosted blogs and so I never really explored it. However, I’ve been hearing more and more about it lately and have wanted to re-look into it to see the advantages for some of my clients. Now your comment on how it can be integrated into your site is FABULOUS! That is something I didn’t know and am very excited to explore. Thanks!!

  • muratesmer

    Nice post Jim. In order to succeed in tumblr as a brand, it is a must to include visuals or related stuff. Than, alternative love brands have chance to becoma sucessful in here. 

    http://otelcom.tumblr.com/ is one example i follow. It is an online hotel booking site. And, they also fill their tumblr site with travel related photos and content. 

  • http://about.me/jkiss James Kiss

    Jim, thanks for sharing this! I had a hard time going to Tumblr because WordPress is so robust but Tumblr makes it quick and easy to share things with people. In a way, it almost discourages long form blog posting and instead pushes you to create or share media. The community aspect is also nice and some businesses may like the fact that there is no way to write comments, haha.

  • http://treasurycafe.blogspot.com/ david k waltz

    Jim, that is a great overview for someone who does not have much familiarity with it. Thank you!

    Question – for those of us with more text-oriented blogs - I am thinking how Twitter users do a fair amount of “catchy phrase + a link” type oif messaging, which often gets you to a blog. Can Tumblr be used in a similar manner to that, as part of an overall strategy but maybe not the main blog?

  • Treacle

    I used Tumblr to reach a new audience for my blog and now it’s one of my top 5 referrers. I definitely agree with everyone who says you shouldn’t make Tumblr your main blog, and but it’s a necessary component of a cohesive blogging strategy…especially if you blog in a highly visual niche.

  • Matt Steele

    This blog reaffirmed our approach to Tumblr. We think we make great sense on the platform as a Zoo with a large volume of high-quality photo and video content. Check us out and let me know what you think! http://sdzoo.tumblr.com/ 

  • http://about.me/jkiss James Kiss

    Yes, I would suggest that it be for that purpose. Pictures, videos, links and quotes are designed to be showcased on Tumblr. In fact, most people don’t write long-form posting much on Tumblr. You can but I don’t find many do. Media stands out more because when a user “follows” or subscribes to you tumblr from their own tumblr account, they see a chronological list of posts and flashiness catches your eye more.

    Also, Tumblr does not have native comment capability. You can add some code depending on the theme and add Disqus but people mostly just “like” a post. The Tumblr community is big on sharing and re-blogging. In fact, I would say that Tumblr made re-blogging OK to do. It also lets your content go viral… much how Facebook now works.

  • SteveA

    Nice summary of Tumblr, and the reasons to be on the platform.  I would like to add one more.  VigLink is an automated content monetization solution that pays for clicks from content, and VigLink has an easy plugin for Tumblr, so Tumblr users can simply turn on VigLink through Tumblr, and start earning revenue from the clicks made by their readers.  Disclosure: I am the VP of Marketing at VigLink.   VigLink is a great way for Bloggers using Tumblr to earn revenue from their blogs when their content drives a reader to seek information from the topic that they are reading about.  Check us out to create an account at http://www.viglink.com

  • http://www.quickeasyblog.com/ Jim

    I agree about self-hosted blogs. I’ve always liked building the blog directly into the website. Again, I think it takes a certain type of blog, one that can publish a good deal of visual content, but with something like food, it seems to work. Also like the way they make the seamless transition between blog and website.

  • http://www.quickeasyblog.com/ Jim

    I’m also a huge fan of WordPress not just for blogging but for building entire websites. That said, I’m looking at setting up a Tumble blog for a client because we feel that his audience will respond well to extreme sports video and images. We are looking at using Tumblr instead of a blog built into the website due to the highly visible nature of the content and the ease of sharing. We will probably use a blog built into the website help build search engine traffic.

  • http://www.quickeasyblog.com/ Jim

    That’s a good question and I didn’t come across any examples of people doing that. I would think that you could use strong visual content to drive users to the larger blog post on a separate site. I agree with many of the other comments in that I think Tumblr is a good addition to a social media strategy as opposed to the only tool in the box.

  • http://www.quickeasyblog.com/ Jim

    The San Diego Zoo! I haven’t been there in years but loved going to the zoo back when I lived on Mission Beach.

    What a great place and talk about visual opportunities. Now that you have a Tumblr site up and working, I think the question becomes, is it meeting your objectives? Looking at it, I see a couple of things that might help. Feel free to drop me a note. I’d be glad to help.

    On another note, I just watched the video on the zoo’s main website about the kids race on the cheetah track. I thought it was pretty funny that the narrator clarified that the cheetahs would not be on the track at the same time as the children although you have to admit, it would make it much more interesting.

  • http://www.quickeasyblog.com/ Jim

    I agree with James. I think Tumblr would be a good place to tease a longer post using graphic content. In your case, I think it would be another social media tool in the arsenal.

  • http://www.ilovetumblr.com Love Tumblr

    Definitely agree, but Tumblr acts a wonderful connection to a “big blog” if you are able to dedicate some time to it.

    Used correctly, it can send more traffic back to your site than time sinks like Twitter.

  • http://relationships-love-marriage-articles.blogspot.com/ Anamika

    I absolutely love Tumblr. I like the reposting facility of Blog Posts and the auto posting facility of rss feeds on Tumblr Blogs.

  • Anna

    Tumblr is pretty image-centric, and most of its readers are there for the visuals–art and photography fans, gif lovers, etc. If someone’s looking to create text-heavy posts, I’d say they have the wrong audience. A great example of the audience differences between Tumblr and Blogger can be found in the Man Repeller’s blogs: http://www.manrepeller.com/ (Blogger)

    http://themanrepeller.tumblr.com/ (Tumblr)
    The Man Repeller is an amazing writer/blogger who has a firm brand in place, so it’s interesting to see how she uses both platforms. 

  • http://brittinspired.com/ bpr611

    Teenage fangirls and animated gifs. That’s how I like to describe Tumblr. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a very different audience than WordPress in my experience. 

  • ceesfranke

    Nice article. I like Tumblr because are a lot of visitors for the visuals and photography. I just started my own blog. http://ceesfranke.tumblr.com 

  • http://www.quickeasyblog.com/ Jim

    Although a bit extreme, I think there is some truth to that statement. Look at the blogs that have performed well on Tumblr – fashion, architecture, design. They are not the only blogs that do well on Tumblr but the visual nature of the subject does lend itself to Tumblr.

    I would say that Tumblr is closer to Twitter than a WordPress blog. It’s sort of like Twitter on steroids. You’ve got the social sharing and following aspects of Twitter combined with a highly visual element.

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  • http://twitter.com/genemillerjr Gene Miller

    Great article Jim, I found quite a few blogs that I’ve added.

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  • ACL Handweaver

    I started Tumblr a few months ago, but have stumbled a bit cause I can’t seem to access notes or comments that get posted, so I don’t get to see my feedback, which I think is important, as well as interaction. If anyone can help me please let me know.  There is a learning curve to each new site system, but am baffled by this one.  I mastered FB, Blogger and am getting better with Twitter, but would like to cover different angles. – ACL aclhandweaver@gmail.com

  • ACL Handweaver

    I started Tumblr a few months ago, but have stumbled a bit cause I can’t seem to access notes or comments that get posted, so I don’t get to see my feedback, which I think is important, as well as interaction. If anyone can help me please let me know.  There is a learning curve to each new site system, but am baffled by this one.  I mastered FB, Blogger and am getting better with Twitter, but would like to cover different angles. – ACL aclhandweaver@gmail.com

  • http://twitter.com/DistnctvDresses Brianne Huntsman

    Something to consider is to make your own quote images about the industry you’re in.  Branding a specific font and layout of your quotes (and including your URL in small font) is a good way to get reblogs.

    If you want people to follow your blog you generally have to follow first.  (You can do this by randomly clicking through user names.)  People generally “Follow Back” if they like your blog.

    Also, offering a charitable donation for every x number of reblogs is helpful.

    Great article, thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/DistnctvDresses Brianne Huntsman

    Something to consider is to make your own quote images about the industry you’re in.  Branding a specific font and layout of your quotes (and including your URL in small font) is a good way to get reblogs.

    If you want people to follow your blog you generally have to follow first.  (You can do this by randomly clicking through user names.)  People generally “Follow Back” if they like your blog.

    Also, offering a charitable donation for every x number of reblogs is helpful.

    Great article, thanks!

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Thanks for sharing Cees!  Do you find it easy to build a community on Tumblr?

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Thanks for sharing Cees!  Do you find it easy to build a community on Tumblr?

  • geoio

    Just in time for me! I joined Tumblr 3 days ago, liked it very much and was happy to publish on my first post. But your post here is opening my eyes for the power and the real possibilities of the platform.

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  • http://www.hotspotpromotion.com/ HotSpot Promotion

    This was fascinating!  How exciting to see this level of creativity!  I’d heard of tumblr but never really took a close look at it.  Looks like that will be changing.  Thanks for a wonderfully informative article!

  • http://www.visinia.com Tanvon Malik

    I did the same and it really works for my blog

  • twhite6878

    Did not like Tumblr because as a writer I am not using too many graphic images. I love photography but that is not being built too much into my brand although it may be when I get to a place where I take more pictures. So my Tumblr blog sits, unused. I will spark it back up once I settle into a bigger city with more photo ops and travel opportunities (I rely on public transportation for now). For now, my self-hosted WordPress blog is the only one I’ll maintain, full of text and little images. :-)

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  • TheCakeBar@tumblr

    I have a popular food tumblr, and honestly don’t recommend tumblr to anyone. I’m looking into finding a better ‘tumblr’ once someone creates one, I’m a definitely jumping ship! :)

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  • http://saicyberspace.blogspot.com Sai Sayson

    Very informative. I have Tumblr blog at http://fashionbysai.tumblr.com and I have one question. I usually post photos. Should I just post it as “Photo” or as a “Text” with photos in it. Which is more beneficial for blogs especially with SEO-purposes?

    Sai from Fashion by Sai

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  • Anonymous

    There’s no SEO with photos, but Tumblr advice is to post photos as photos and text posts as text. You can posts photos in text posts but not only photos…

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  • Thomas Outt

    Seems like something worth exploring. The overview makes it seem enticing–thank you for the information.

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  • Flirty Lingerie

    I have been on Tumblr for over a year and find myself posting to it more and more with pix and occasional text posts. Need to keep it short and sweet with lots of photos. Although I have a “traditional” hosted blog, Tumblr is much less work!









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