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Crafting a retail identity on Tumblr

  • Technology
  • June 18, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Crafting a retail identity on Tumblr

Tumblr's point of difference is that it's likw social media putty. Users have free rein to craft and mould their blog to look and sound however they like.

Tumblr CEO David Karp said in a Founder Stories interview he created the site to give users a platform for creative expression.

“All blogs took the same form,” he said. “I wanted something much more free-form, much less verbose.”

 Users have a variety of post types at their disposal, such as quotes, blog posts, videos, photos and GIFs (moving images).

They can add posts to their blog by either posting them themselves or reblogging other people’s posts.

They find other people’s post through hashtags or blogs they follow which appear on their dashboard, which is similar to Facebook’s news feed.

Users can customise the look and feel of their blog through ‘themes’, which alter their blog’s appearance.

Social features mean Tumblr users can interact with the community by liking each others posts, reblogging them or sending the user a message.

A lot of companies seem to be too intimidated by Tumblr’s creative nature to try it.

In 2013, Simply Measured found just 31 percent of Interbrand’s top 100 brands were on Tumblr.

Yet Simply Measured also found Tumblr was the fastest growing social media site of 2014, alongside Pinterest, with 120 percent growth.

Tumblr says that there are over 200 million Tumblr blogs posting over 80 million posts per day.

Yahoo saw the value in Tumblr’s user base and in 2013 forked out US$1.1 billion for the site.

Yahoo noted it’s one of the fastest growing media networks in the world with 300 million monthly unique visitors, including people who don’t have a Tumblr account.

On Quicksprout.com, Neil Patel points out the perks of Tumblr’s user base:

  • 65 percent of Tumblr users have a college degree.
  • About half of its users are under the age of 25.
  • Like Pinterest, Tumblr is slightly more popular with women. 53.5 percent of its users are female.

The most powerful marketing aspect about Tumblr is its reblogging capabilities.

Once a post is reblogged, it has a much longer lifespan than other sites and can potentially circulate the Tumblr-sphere forever.

Tumblr compared its posts to Twitter’s posts and found that its posts took 137 hours to reach 90 percent of its total reblogs, where as Twitter took 15 hours.

Yahoo has since tapped into this advertising potential and Tumblr offers different ad products that are integrated into the website.

Sponsored posts put advertisers’ individual photo or video posts in users’ newsfeeds or on the sidebar of their homepage.

This increases a specific post’s interactions. Yahoo says an average sponsored post is reblogged 10,000 times.

There’s also the trending blog section, which puts an entire blog in front of users and helps the business increase its followers.

Let Liv founder Natalie Sorensen founded her online homeware and accessories shop in 2012. She expanded to a bricks and mortar boutique in Wellington’s CBD in 2014.

The company stocks Scandinavian-inspired items and has a strong theme of beautiful, clean and carefully curated images across its social media channels.

Let Liv has been trialling a Tumblr blog since January to replace its traditional blog on its website.

Sorensen says the company’s Tumblr operates in unison with its other social media channels, but is an entirely different tool to Facebook and Instagram.

“Tumblr is all about sharing aspirational and inspirational images rather than just a plain product image,” Sorensen says.

The only hint its Tumblr gives to being a company-run blog is a link to the online shop and its Instagram.

The blog features a mixture of reblogged photos and photos of items Let Liv stocks taken by Sorensen and her team. Importantly, the products are never advertised blatantly.

“[The photos we post] are mostly ones which are styled lifestyle shots rather that clear cut product shots,” Sorensen says. “It’s more of a visual mood board, as we use it as a way of showcasing our aesthetic.”

She says they post on Tumblr whenever inspiration hits rather than at a set time.

With Facebook and Instagram, she says acting in a time sensitive manner gives them an advantage over their competitors.

“One thing we have always prioritised is being able to get something new in, have it up on the website and talking about it on social media within hours - if not minutes - of it arriving in the door,” Sorensen says.

She says this prompts customers to purchase the products both online and in store.

However, Sorensen says it’s important not to post too much, particularly with pushing sales.

“Be regular with your posts but change up what type of messages you are putting out there,” she says.

“Don’t post too or audiences will get sick of you and either unfollow or hide you in their feeds.”

“Disengaged followers who still follow or like your page but have hidden your posts are not a true reflection of how well your business is doing on social media.”

 She says it’s also important to have a dedicated social media person on your team that monitors the different channels.

“It has also just been me doing all the social media since the beginning, so you tend to develop an organic feeling for what works when you have just one person focused on this,” she says.

Posts aren’t all planned in advance either, she says, as if an opportunity arises during the day they are reactive and use it organically.

Let Liv started out with a Facebook and Instagram page and in three years, has since expanded to Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

Sorensen recommends finding the two social media platforms that your target audience uses the most before trying to juggle many.

This story was originally published in NZ Retail magazine issue 737, April/May 2015.

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