‘Traffic for years’: Why Tumblr is still valuable to some marketers

When Verizon bought AOL in 2015, the company became the owner of a social network. And while three years later, Tumblr may not have grown to be a viable Facebook competitor for a myriad of reasons, its community remains strong and therefore continues to be attractive to advertisers — at least for now.

This week, influencer marketing company Sideqik announced its integration with Tumblr, bringing in real-time data. On its dashboard, Sideqik’s clients, which include Coca-Cola, Universal and P&G, can search Tumblr users and posts and keep track of campaigns. Why launch something for Tumblr in 2018? According to Sideqik CEO Jeremy Haile, Tumblr is still worth watching for some of his clients, in particular ones in film, TV and gaming.

“Although you don’t hear as much about it, there are still 350 million accounts on Tumblr, and they’re very active. Sometimes what marketers fall into doing is just looking at the size of the channel. Even something that may be less in terms of the number of people can still be highly influential,” Haile said.

Tumblr’s active user base in the U.S. is shrinking, according to eMarketer’s August 2018 data. Tumblr’s U.S. audience went from 21 million in 2017 to 20 million in 2018. In the years ahead, eMarketer predicts usage will continue to decline. Chris Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, attributed the decline to Tumblr being quite slow to adapt to mobile and more people replacing blogging with other ways to share, like with Stories.

“The rise of social video has made it difficult for Tumblr to compete for users and time spent. It’s especially true for teens and young millennials, who aren’t signing up for Tumblr in the first place. There’s still an audience of loyal bloggers, but we expect that number to continue to decline over the next few years as the other video-focused networks keep growing,” Bendtsen said.

Influential moments still happen on Tumblr. Last month, Taylor Swift, who has been active on the platform for years, liked several Tumblr posts from fans who were reacting to Swift’s Instagram post about her endorsement of Phil Bredesen, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Some of those “likes” were not well received by Republican fans, but it was another moment that showed engagement through Tumblr.

Hollywood studios have been quite loyal to Tumblr. For example, Sony Pictures Animation shares at least one post daily on its Tumblr page that incorporates one of their films. On Nov. 6, the day of the midterms, a post featured characters from the 2017 “Smurfs” movie and read “Use your voice today! #ElectionDay.” The post has received 10 likes.

Yoli Chisholm, vp of marketing at social media management company Sprinklr, said in the early years of Tumblr big brands like Nike, Coca-Cola and Microsoft used the visual elements of it for interesting storytelling. Sprinklr has had an integration with Tumblr for nearly seven years. Chrisholm, who previously worked at in marketing at Microsoft, said she still sees value in the platform.

“In Tumblr, you really get the opportunity to connect with your affinity groups who are very passionate about their interests. Just like brands use Pinterest to build communities, brands can also build a community on Tumblr with creative graphics, video and even long-form content,” Chisholm said.

One unique aspect of Tumblr, compared to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, is that engagement on posts can last weeks, months or years. When pitching Tumblr in August 2015, Simon Khalaf, Yahoo’s svp of publishing products at the time, said one-third of all reblogs occur 30 days after the original post was shared. Haile of Sideqik said he also continues to see the long tail on Tumblr.

“For an Instagram post, after 18 hours almost all of the engagement is done, [it] trails down to nothing, where if you think about blog posts they can continue to get traffic for years,” Haile said.

But authenticity is important to guarantee that engagement. Indeed, the Tumblr community is quick to mock programmatic ads they see on the platform on Twitter. Some are also quite aware of how embedded Tumblr posts on sites work, as seen in a Nov. 8 screenshot of a BuzzFeed post:



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