OWNER'S MANUAL

7 Things Marketers Should Know About Tumblr

As the 32nd most popular website in the world, Tumblr is a big opportunity. But you can't approach it as you would other marketing strategies.
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With 105 million blogs and 49 billion posts, Tumblr, the free blog hosting and social networking site, is the 32nd most popular site in the world.

So if you're not using Tumblr as part of your marketing efforts, you're missing a very large boat.

"Tumblr isn't a blog platform like WordPress; it's a social network that has a blogging platform." says Neil Patel, co-founder of the Web analytics firm KISSmetrics. "The beautiful thing about Tumblr is that it makes it really easy to share your content with millions of Tumblr users... so you can get a big audience without spending a ton of money on marketing."

Here are Neil's tips for marketing your business on Tumblr:

At first, forget marketing.

Your standard marketing spiel does not apply.  Definitely decide your goal or goals for your Tumblr blog such as building brand awareness, educating customers, improving customer service, or whatever your goal may be--and then immediately shift the focus from your company to your audience.

How?

Provide great content.

As Neil says, "give stuff away for free." Not products or services, but information. Or entertainment. Or advice. Or all of the above.

"When you give valuable stuff away for free," Neil says, "your audience starts to think, 'Wow, they're really smart. What do they do?' Then they'll check you out. That's how you convert: providing value by educating, entertaining, etc.--what I call building up karma points."

Provide evergreen content.

News doesn't do particularly well on Tumblr. (Besides, why create content with a naturally short shelf life?)

While you can certainly mix up your content, make sure to create some number of guides, how-to posts, and lists. Not only do you create content with legs, you also give search engines significant food for indexing thought.

Create content people will share.

Like other social networks, Tumblr makes it really easy for users to share content with others.

As long as your content is worth sharing, of course.

Photos--good photos--do well. Funny posts, informational posts, combining a fact with an image to create what Neil calls a "factograph"--they can all do well. Don't think about what you want to share but what your audience will want to share.

Occasionally create long posts.

Tumblr is perfect for sharing shorts bursts of content like photos, charts, quotes, and videos.

Yet according to Neil a great way to increase the chances of your content going viral is to publish a long post. "The impact of something long coming across your visitors' screens can be quite startling... getting them to pause and take notice," Neil says.

Quality longer posts can create a spike of traffic, are more likely to show up in Tumblr searches and Google searches, and create a spike in comments--all of which leads to a bigger audience and more followers.

Tag wisely.

Unlike search engines, Tumblr search relies on tags, not keywords. These tags, which you choose, explain and categorize the content you create.

"Between seven and 12 tags is the optimum number that will not look like spam but will also draw a net wide enough to catch a lot of searches... and that's the key," Neil says, "since you want to end up in as many searches as possible."

Choose relevant tags, and if you create niche content use niche tags to categorize that content.

Network with other Tumblr users.

While a blogging platform, Tumblr is inherently social. That means you need to network. Draw in friends and colleagues. Share with your vendors and partners. Draw in connections and followers from other platforms.

The more you share and the more others share, the bigger your audience and followers and the greater your influence--and the better your Tumblr marketing.

(For more information, including tips on how to optimize your Tumblr blog, check out Neil's The Marketer's Guide to Tumblr.)

IMAGE: Photo courtesy ofFlickr
Last updated: Apr 30, 2013

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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