Tumblr is the online equivalent of a boom town. The platform saw 218% year-over-year growth, and every minute, approximately 38,000 tumblogs – short blogs that often contain multimedia – appear on the Tumblr network. Tumblr doesn’t require self-hosting, and within minutes, you can have your own blog.
Given all that, it seems that Tumblr would be an obvious foundation for your content marketing strategy, right? Well, maybe not. Depending on your industry, Tumblr might not be the goose laying the most golden eggs.
What people mostly post on Tumblr are images. In terms of brand use, this tends to work best for industries that are highly visual (fashion, restaurants, interior design, home furnishings, etc).
For a variety of reasons, rival blogging platform WordPress is probably still better for your company’s content marketing efforts. Here are some issues to consider:
Ease of Use vs. Flexibility
There’s no denying that Tumblr is easy to use. In moments you can be blogging, sharing pictures and surfing other Tumblogs. There are no hosting fees and few logistics to navigate. You simply choose a theme and start producing content. This can seem like a dream come true, especially for brands who are not tech savvy.
WordPress also offers free hosting for bloggers, but most brands opt to host their own sites so they can customize the layouts and feature sets. WordPress features can be expanded in virtually any way, but most commonly through “plugins,” which are like apps for mobile phones. Installing them and using WordPress plugins is typically very easy, although it pays to read user reviews and developer responses to gauge which plugins are most reliable.
As for designs, the nearly infinite world of WordPress design templates is an industry unto itself. Using them is exponentially easier than building sites from scratch, but most brands still decide to have a web developer do final customization so that they look unique.
The tradeoff for Tumblr’s ease of use and fast expansion is stability. When you don’t host your own blog, you are at the mercy of their servers. English UX designer Zach Inglis described Tumblr as operating with “what feels like 70% uptime.” That’s not acceptable for most brands.
Since Tumblr has already garnered a reputation for going dark, it’s a concern worth considering when deciding where to house your corporate blog.
Another by-product of Tumblr’s quick expansion is that there have been complaints about Tumblr’s insufficient programming architecture and customer service.
Scalability vs. Sociability
Since WordPress is scalable, you can create anything from a quick fashion look book to a full scale website with custom CSS. You will be able to ensure that your blog’s scope grows proportionally with your brand. Although we see brands using Tumblr to good effect, tumblogs usually fall under the category of PR and brand awareness rather than driving a brand’s revenue engine.
If you’re looking to use your blog as a hub and syndicate across a lot of platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook and others, then WordPress offers the most flexible options.
What Tumblr affords a brand is a platform interface that lends itself to sociability. Much like content aggregation sites like Reddit and Stumblupon, Tumblr boasts a hugely popular main site that allows users to search for tumblogs based on their interests. If your brand’s content is a good fit for the Tumblr community (striking images do best), then it’s likely that your blog could earn more spikes in viewership though Tumblr than through a WordPress blog. It certainly seems much easier to get someone to subscribe to your Tumblr blog than it is to get someone to sign up to the RSS feed on your WordPress blog.
WordPress SEO vs. Tumblr SEO
Simply put: WordPress blogs afford you with superior on-page SEO to Tumblr blogs. SEO add-ons like “All In One SEO Pack” make WordPress one of the best platforms for SEO. You should have a much easier time getting your Worpress blog to the top of Google than your Tumblr blog.
That being said, Tumblr pages can still be optimized. This article details some Tumblr SEO tips.
Monetization vs. Reach
Like the still popular self-hosted platform “Blogger” before it, there are few signs – apart from a few ads here and there – that most brands will be trying to monetize their Tumblr presence anytime soon. WordPress’ flexibility makes it far easier to install ad platforms, lead forms and other items that brands need. Unless Tumblr changes its format drastically, the platform will primarily be about “reach.”
Some (P)interesting Alternatives to Tumblr
Tumblr isn’t the only tumblogging platform out there. If you are considering a tumblog, there are some other solutions worth considering:
Pinterest- Pinterest is gaining traction as a tumblogging platform that lets you search for media based on tags and pin together media that you find interesting (hence the clever name). Like Tumblr, Pinterest seems geared heavily toward visual brands, which would seem to make it a Tumblr competitor. Also, it should be noted that Pinterest has so far made it easier for site publishers using WordPress and other products to add Pinterest buttons. Although Tumblr is still much more popular, it is also relatively isolated from the WordPress community.
Posterous-Posterous is a tumblogging platform that allows you to create blog posts from your email. Posterous also allows you to syndicate email blogs to multiple platforms (such as Tumblr and WordPress) with the click of a button.
WordPress- Yes, WordPress can be an effective tumblogging platform as well. The Post Formats feature in WordPress 3.1 makes it easier than ever to turn WordPress into a Tumblr-like experience. In fact, WooThemes launched an exporter last year to migrate your Tumblr blog to a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
Tumblr is a great way to get your blog in front of people. It can be an awesome tool for raising brand awareness. However, Tumblr’s reliance on visual media tilts it heavily toward niche industries. If your brand sells custom made furniture you might want to consider getting on Tumblr immediately (if you haven’t already.) However, if your goal is to sell marketing automation solutions to Fortune 1000 businesses, I don’t see Tumblr adding value to your brand any time soon.
If your brand isn’t a good fit with Tumblr, don’t fret. With quality content and some attention to search marketing, you can find the right audience for your WordPress blog.
Here are a few examples of brands using Tumblr effectively to improve reach: