With the rise of Pinterest and Tumblr's astounding growth, it seems that 2012 may be the year of the visual platform. Tumblr surpassed 15 billion monthly pageviews in January, and Pinterest is driving some serious traffic to retailers. We've already covered some best practices for brands on Pinterest, but if you're looking to mix up your content creation, try Tumblr. To date, there have been 16,827,658,845 posts on the site, so isn't it time you get it on the action?
As with any other platform, there are pros and cons to consider. But with the popularity of Tumblr and the ease of setting up, customizing and maintaining your blog, we suggest you at least check it out—there's a very engaged Tumblr audience waiting to see your content. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Set Up Your Tumblr
Pick a password and designate a URL for your Tumblr—the URL will be www.anything.tumblr.com. You can't host the blog on your website's domain, but you can set up a custom domain so it matches your website (such as mashable.com/blog), place a button on your site or even link out from your site's navigation to make it seamless for your users to consume your Tumblr content.
Then, customize your blog. Pick a theme, choose colors, pick a font, upload a header and a profile picture and write a little "about me" section. There are some great themes for small business. You can choose more of a collage layout if you're going for a Pinterest-y, image-heavy look, or you can opt for a linear, news-feed layout.
Getting all that set up shouldn't have taken you too long. Now, let's start tumbling!
What to Post
"Blogging" no longer evokes a visual of someone sitting in a coffee shop writing about life all day. With the 140-character limit on Twitter, we've lost our attention span for 1,000-word musings. We want simple, palatable content in many different forms. Tumblr has helped to redefine what it means to blog and has made it infinitely easier and faster to do so. Visuals do particularly well on Tumblr, but there's more to the site than pictures. On your dashboard, you'll see seven options—text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio and video. Here are some great uses of each kind of post:
- Text: Explain rules for your upcoming content or make an announcement.
- Photo: A product image, a picture of your team, a picture of a celebrity wearing or using your product, a dish at your restaurant, a profile of a new team member. You can upload multiple pics, which is great for an event recap or even product shots—use a wide shot and a close-up, for instance.
- Quote: A one-liner that your fans just need to hear.
- Link: Saw something on the Web that you just have to share? Link out to it.
- Chat: Did you have a funny exchange with a customer? Recount it here.
- Audio: Post the jam that has everyone in the office grooving, or maybe a song that mentions your line of work.
- Video: Did you shoot a cool sizzle reel? Post it on Tumblr!
To make a post, just click the icon of the media type you'd like to post. From there, it's pretty simple: upload the picture (or video or audio) and fill out all of the fields. Be sure to tag the post with relevant terms, since searching through tags is a great way for people to discover your content. You can publish the post now or schedule it for later. The latter is a great option for time-strapped entrepreneurs—you can set aside some time each week to hammer out a few posts and then space them out over time to keep your page active, while you're out doing other things, like running your business. Click the box to send the post to Twitter, to allow for easy distribution.
Much like Pinterest, you should go beyond just trying to push your product on Tumblr—try to embody a lifestyle. Sure, you can post product pictures, but don't be so pushy; instead, be human. If you have a clothing company that just got samples in, show how excited you are and make your Tumblr audience feel special by giving them a first look. Try posting something like, "Just got first samples of our new product line! Take a peek!" with some pictures. You can also post about your brand's history (i.e. where'd your slogan come from? Who designed the logo? Who's the person answering customer service calls?), along with anecdotes about customer interactions and pictures of office celebrations to give people a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Now more than ever, people want to know from whom they're buying products, so Tumblr is a great way to let them see how great your company is. This helps build loyalty, and your bottom line.
You're all set up, and you've rattled off a few posts. Are you worried it'll be tough to maintain your business' Tumblr? Use the mobile app (see above) for easy blogging. You can even text your update from an SMS phone or update your Tumblr via e-mail—just e-mail your custom Tumblr e-mail address (hint: it's an @tumblr.com e-mail address, not your login). If you're an Instagram user, you can also set up the photo-sharing app to send your stylized images to Tumblr, which can add some flair to your blog and help you kill two birds with one stone, by updating two platforms in one simple move.
As you get in the flow of things, you should start seeing an influx of followers and activity. When you log on to your dashboard, you'll see the river of content you've created, along with notes about who liked or reblogged a post and who started following your Tumblr. Give them a follow back, and then you'll start seeing their posts when you log in—comment, like and reblog to engage with the audience and build relationships.
Where to Look For Inspiration
A new undertaking can be daunting, so we've gathered up some great small business Tumblrs and explained a bit about what makes these blogs special. Hopefully they'll inspire you to blog even more.
- Alternative Apparel: Alternative Apparel's theme is decidedly Pinterest-y. The clothing brand focuses highly on visuals, highlighting celebrities and everyday Joes enjoying life in the brand's cozy apparel. Clicking on a picture pulls up a caption and product details.
- Foodspotting: Dish-sharing app Foodspotting has Spotted, which highlights dishes for various holidays and occasions, like Chinese New Year. The blog also includes recaps of Foodspotting events, such as the #DimSumDemolition and the Dumpling Waddle in New York. If you're hungry, it's probably dangerous to look at the blog, and even if you're not hungry, you'll still want to eat these dishes. Thus, the Tumblr serves as a way to remind you that it's fun to take pictures of your food, which is precisely what the Foodspotting app lets you do.
- Instagram: As you (now) know, you can push your Instagram photos straight to Tumblr, so it's not surprising that Instagram uses Tumblr to help spread its gospel. Like Foodspotting's Spotted blog, the Instagram Tumblr motivates people to use the app. Its Weekend Hashtag Project encourages users to take pictures that exemplify a pre-determined hashtag, like #SoloParking. Favorites are then shared on the Tumblr, with kudos for the photogs who took each shot. Then there's "How I Shoot," a series in which Instagrammers share tips for taking excellent pictures. There are also tips and best practices throughout the Tumblr in case you're looking to step up your Instagram game.
- Lure Fishbar: The Soho eatery posts drool-worthy food porn, like king crab rolls and the sushi bar special. Then, there are plenty of sultry ambient shots of the restaurant to entice chic eaters into the venue, along with pics of the chef with New York celebs, like Carmelo Anthony.
- Warby Parker: The blog, Zagg Pepper, takes a clean approach—there's a simple layout, a white background and a commitment to post "musings, inspirations and fun stuff." Though the brand purveys glasses, the blog highlights all things intellectual, artsy and stimulating, since the brand's bespectacled devotees are often into that sort of thing.
- Ace Hotel: The Ace is a boutique hotel that embodies a cool, high-end lifestyle, with locations in New York, Portland, Seattle and Palm Springs. The Ace Hotel blog boasts pictures of the properties, Ace-branded apparel and pictures of local art exhibits, in addition to promoting local shops and bands.
- Mashable: Of course, as a site that covers social media, Mashable makes good use of the platforms that are out there, including Tumblr. The Mashable Tumblr, MashableHQ.com, is a peek behind the scenes at our New York City headquarters. You'll find pictures of our office dogs and founder Pete Cashmore on a scooter. But there's also some more substantive information, like updates from our Social Good Summit and Mashable Connect.
Does your business have a Tumblr? If not, are you inspired to start one now?
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Photo credit: Courtesy Tumblr