I’m just crazy about Tumblr. The expression of a ”lifestream” in imagery and minimal text is both poetic and powerful – and it speaks to me. This wasn’t always the case, though. When Tumblr began to get buzz in 2009, I dismissed it as a platform for kids. All that changed in 2011 when J.Crew and Barack Obama launched Tumblrs. (I get a lot of ideas from Obama’s digital strategy, which is probably a blog post of its own.) That’s when I got the itch to use Tumblr in a legal marketing context.
I finally got my chance this year with my firm’s newly launched legal recruiting blog (see accompanying photo).
What is Tumblr? If Twitter and Pinterest had a baby dressed in WordPress themes, that would be Tumblr. It’s a quick blogging platform that combines text, imagery and social sharing to create a unique and engaging experience for bloggers and their followers.
Tumblr has an unchallenged dominance among the youth demographic, meaning advertisers and brands should finally sit up and take note – Tumblr is the future.
I think he’s onto something. As more and more people my age get Facebook fatigue, they are looking for other social channels on which to express themselves and connect – without the baggage of family and childhood friends to impinge on the fun. (Probably another blog post!)
As far as I can tell, Tumblr is not widely used in legal marketing, nor has it been widely discussed, suprising at a time when the legal marketing buzz is all about Pinterest, another platform that relies on visuals. Personally, I think Tumblr has a lot more potential as a legal marketing channel, especially when targeting recruits, or practices that focus on highly visual industries, such as art, fashion, music or travel. And it has some pretty impressive growth stats.
So, with this blog post, I want to introduce you to Tumblr, and give you a few ideas plus a few takeaways from my recent Tumblr launch. Continue reading to see how the Tumblr sausage gets made.
But first, a disclaimer:
What I’m not going to do in this blog post is tell you how to use Tumblr. Lots of people who are way smarter than I am have written loads of posts about Tumblr. Here is a quick review to get you started:
- 10 Useful Tumblr Tips That New Users Need To Know
- How to Be a Problogger on Tumblr
- How To Create A Triple-Threat Content Strategy With Twitter, Tumblr, and Your Content
My firm aspires to follow all the best practices listed here, though we’re not there yet. For example – as with Twitter, engagement is key. We are using Tumblr to broadcast content, and that’s probably fine. But it’s even better if you “reblog” or heart posts, if only because it provides a stream of interesting, visual content on your blog.
When setting up the new Tumblr, I identified a few takeaways for next time, shared below in hopes your Tumblr experience will go more smoothly:
- Make sure enough of your content is image based. That’s why our summer associate program was perfect for Tumblr – lots of photo opps make for a visual experience. Tumblr does have plenty of text-only themes, but text-only is not the optimal use of this platform, especially if you don’t plan on engaging with other Tumblr content.
- A little HTML goes a long way. Setting up a Tumblr is as easy as clicking a few buttons, but to get the most from the platform, a little coding expertise is useful. We originally started our Tumblr with Swatch, planning to modify the background. When that became too onerous for our humble coding skills, we asked Tumblr for a refund and they were very prompt in returning our payment – good customer service! We ended up using Paperback theme (sans Dylan) by Pixelunion - with no modifications.
- Set up a dummy account to preview themes. You cannot preview premium themes with your own content. If you change your mind about your theme – or run into issues like we did – switching to a different theme wipes out your google analytics code and some other elements you may have populated (such as tag line). I recommend setting up a dummy blog on a personal account in order to learn the ins and outs of particular themes for firm use. This means you will have to purchase themes twice (each theme is licensed once per blog), but it will give you an opportunity to work out the kinks – out of the public eye.
- Be prepared for questions from internal stakeholders. This is probably the most important takeaway. Some internal stakeholders may not be familiar with the platform and it’s native look, so be prepared to address this in feedback sessions.
Just for fun check out my Tumblr, if only to get a sense of how radically a theme can interact with the content on a blog – and to compare and contrast with the simple Paperback theme of our Summer Associate blog. All my posts are reblogs (I don’t have time for original content on all my channels), but I try to combine them in interesting ways. The Organ theme is especially designed for visual content, presenting a slice of each image which can be expanded by mousing over it. Such a fun way to discover the content on a page.
So, let me know – what do YOU think about Tumblr? Do you think you might try it?
Thanks to this post, I’ve learned that JD Supra – always on the cutting edge – has four blogs on the Tumblr platform. I hadn’t noticed because they use a customized theme and they don’t use the Tumblr URL, but sure enough, there’s that follow button in the upper-right corner. They are mostly text blogs, but the theme makes them look fantastic. Check them out!