The Pros & Cons Of Tumblr For Online Marketing

Posted on May 7th 2012

The Pros & Cons Of Tumblr For Online Marketing

One of the predominant questions surrounding Pinterest’s meteoric rise to the upper echelons of social media visibility has been “didn’t Tumblr already do this years ago?” Indeed, the very image-heavy microblog aspects which lie at the core of Pinterest’s astounding success are essentially copied from the Tumblr model which was attracting billions of page views well before Pinterest was a gleam in their founders’ eyes. 

When online marketers think of social media, Tumblr is not necessarily the first candidate, but it does offer some interesting possibilities. Here’s a list of Pros and Cons to help you decide if you want to dive in. 

Unintuitive interface

Tumblr is essentially a microblogging platform set up along Twitter lines, but it allows longer blog entries and incorporates an emphasis on images which Twitter lacks. The site is primarily utilized by visually oriented microbloggers to showcase their own art work, photography, or images. Tumblr is set up to appeal to entry-level bloggers and is significantly easier to master than a platform as onerous as WordPress.  

When it comes to learning curve, Tumblr unfortunately falls behind competitor Posterous as the interface is not intuitive and some functions are a befuddling. For example, the suggestions for first-time users are only accessible after the creation of the account and profile, which is a bit like the prototypical closing of the barn door after the horse is gone. 

Both Tumblr and Posterous could learn a lesson or two from the upstart Pinterest which is structured in such a way to accommodate the most computer-phobic user imaginable and is thus rated as super-simple.

Instances of utter obtuseness

Tumblr suffers from several instances of utter obtuseness:

  • Three of the types of posts supported are quote, link, and chat. Why the first two are a “type of post” rather than an element of one is a mystery, and chat is not at all what you’d think it is (a way to chat with other users) but is an indication that the blog contains dialogue! Huh? 
  • The dashboard is also obliquely designed to be too similar to your blog! Beginners could easily become confused and think that they’re actually composing their blogs when they’re in this Dashboard which varies significantly from the style of the blog along the lines of Google’s Blogger and the industry standard WordPress. 
  • There’s not much in the way of analytics
  • The text editor is not fully WYSIWYG and the text field would challenge a gnat with a magnifying glass as for some inexplicable reason it’s microscopic. 
  • You can only place a caption on a new image post and not a headline. Why? Ask youthful entrepreneur-founder David Karp who is probably too busy relishing his billion dollar valuation to spend a few hundred bucks on fixing his site.
  • They suffered the longest outage among any major social network, going down for a full twenty-four hours in December, 2010.

Features that merit wide adoption

On the plus side, Tumblr does have some features that work very well: 

  • The Mass Editor allows you to view scores of posts all at once through a thumbnail view so you can tag, untag, or change tags on any you select, all at once. This is a feature that many blogging platforms would do well to adopt!
  • Multiple blogs are easy to manage through a single dropdown menu.
  • The Random feature allows your reader to choose one of your posts to read chosen by sheer chance, which can be fun.
  • The site lets you search through your email contacts to see if any of your contacts are on Tumblr.
  • There are a large number of attractive and functional free templates.
  • Mobile-friendliness is a Tumbler keystone, and you can even create an audio recording post by phone.

Tumblr essentially works best when it is not considered as a microblog or as an alternative Pinterest, but a community where participants can “tumble” all their media together to share it with their friends. 

All of the usual social media prerequisites apply here too, therefore a marketer can only get back out of Tumblr what they are willing to contribute. However, the virality potential is definitely there if you are able to generate the type of content which is sought by the community.

denisekeller

Denise Keller

COO , Benchmark Email

Denise Keller is COO and founding partner of Benchmark Email, one of the world's leading email marketing services for small businesses. Keller served as Vice President of Finance for restaurant chain Seafood Broiler and CEO of Accor's U.S. Ticket Services Division before transferring into the COO position at Benchmark, where she has been instrumental in bringing in numerous small business customers, as well as high-profile clients that include Mercedes Benz, Siemens and Kaiser Permanente. Denise is also a regular writer for Young Entrepreneur, The Email Guide, and Benchmark Email's corporate blog.
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Comments

Leigh Pinkston
Posted on May 8th 2012 at 5:20PM

Great list of pros and cons for Tumblr. I was wondering if you have any example or good/bad business accounts on Tumblr?


Thanks - Leigh Pinkston