Does Tumblr’s rise spell Facebook’s decline?

Companies currently working hard to build a presence in the social media world may have been concerned by the latest Global Web Index. It shows that Tumblr has increased its active user base by 120% in the last six months but that Facebook has only seen 2% growth over the same period. Will all the work that went into developing the corporate Facebook profile be about to go to waste?

The answer is no. In real terms, Facebook is still a global social media giant. Its total users exceed 1.23 billion with 757 million logging on daily. Meanwhile, Tumblr has 300 million unique visitors a month. Although this is a lower total figure, however, its trajectory is surging upward meaning that for some businesses at least, Tumblr presents an exciting opportunity as long as it is used correctly and is properly understood.

What distinguishes Tumblr as a platform is that it appeals to those who prefer to share content rather than create it. Once shared, posts can take on a life of their own, prolonging their life way beyond a few days. But the site is not for everyone.

The few companies that are currently using Tumblr successfully produce entertaining, engaging and shareable content. So far, so Facebook. But true Tumblr content also possesses an out-of-the-ordinary ‘viral’ quality.

Those that ‘get’ Tumblr produce content specifically with ‘virality’ in mind and to do this they have to know how to capitalise on the online phenomenon of ‘memes’. These are virally-transmitted cultural symbols or social ideas. Most modern internet memes are humorous while others involve social commentary or intellectual absurdity. In every case, content spreads between people in a virus-like fashion.

The marketing team at Coca-Cola has developed a successful ongoing Tumblr strategy, working with the meme Throwback Thursday (#tbt). They frequently create posts which centre on the artwork from their historic adverts but with new messages that are unmistakably modern and cheeky. They have also benefited from the #shareacokewith meme made popular by Tumblr users.

Our advice for the majority of businesses when deciding whether to establish a presence on Tumblr is to proceed with caution. This is largely because it is not a platform that can realistically be used as an ‘add-on’ to an existing social media suite. It is not a question or simply re-purposing existing content for this platform because Tumblr really does require a unique approach. For those with the appetite to try, however, the opportunities are immense.