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The brands that are missing out on the emerging social network

October 21st 2011 was a big day for Tumblr. It became the first blogging platform to host President Obama’s blog, launching his social media campaign for re-election in 2012.

Obama’s choice (clearly influenced by socially savvy members of his campaign team) brought Tumblr to the attention of the world’s media, including those who had not previously come across the network or had assumed it was only a place to share funny photos of cats. However this attention is long overdue.

In June of this year the network founded in 2007 by David Karp surpassed WordPress in the total number of blogs, breaking through the 20 million mark. It now has over 33 million and rising.

Nielsen’s State of the Media report on Social Media for Q3 2011 highlights Tumblr as the ‘Emerging Social Network’ citing the trebling of its US audience over the last year.

In the UK its growth has been impressive too with 7.5m unique visitors, 5.4m of whom visit in an average month. London in particular seems to be in love with Tumblr.  Its residents make 1.6m visits to sites in the network. Only San Paulo in Brazil has more Tumblr fans.

Given that Tumblr’s UK audience is more female (52%) than male (48%) and many of its users are in the much coveted demographic of 18-24 year olds, it’s not hard to see why some brands, particularly in fashion and publishing, have been quick to jump onto the network.

Vogue, Life and Vice have all developed Tumblr sites as have many fashion brands. DKNY is a notable example having recently ported their ‘Notes on a City’ to Tumblr following on from the success of their ‘DKNY PR Girl’ site.

The Economist, The Washington Post and IBM have set up Tumblr blogs too, presumably hoping to earn kudos from a younger ‘edgier’ audience than they might usually attract. I’ve even set one up (for much the same reasons).

What is more surprising is the number of brands that haven’t caught on to it yet. I was pleased to see that Bing (a client of mine) has a fully functional Tumblr site, but was amazed to find that Google.tumblr.com is a blank holding page that appears to have nothing to do with the company itself.

Google is by no means alone. A search for many of the world’s top brands using their .Tumblr.com addresses brings up some surprising and sometimes shocking results. Nike, Adidas, Microsoft, Samsung, and Apple all appear to have people sleeping on their Tumblr’s. I find it hard to believe that any of the brand custodians or legal departments would be pleased about this. In the case of Coca-Cola, I imagine they would be horrified to see what is being displayed in their name. I can therefore only assume that these brands haven’t woken up to Tumblr yet. Like the proverbial bears in the story of Goldilocks, I don’t think they’ll be too happy when they do.

Although some brands are rushing to snap up their own top level brand domain names despite the costs involved, it seems extraordinary that so many have failed to register their own name on Tumblr, which is free and is fast becoming the social network to watch.

I expect this will change in the coming months, particularly if Tumblr continues its growth trajectory and builds insight tools for brands and marketers. When this happens, I imagine a few heads will tumble.

One thought on “Who’s been sleeping in my Tumblr?

  1. I’m a big fan of the GE’s use: http://generalelectric.tumblr.com/

    It’s truly minimalist (90% of the content is just dropped straight from Instagram) so it must take sod all resource to maintain, yet it’s actually interesting, and provides a nice way of storing images that I’m sure they can use in future campaigns

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