Social Media

Take any and all opportunities to ask 16-year-olds what they’re currently using in social media. Depending on their interests and taste, their answers will obviously vary, but the conversation will almost always jump-start your own thinking around social platforms and how they should and will be used. 

In this instance, the conversation will spur a whole article about a profoundly popular and influential platform that, for some reason, only sparingly comes up in conversations around brand marketing. 

1. Know The Facts

Tumblr, founded in February 2007, is a social networking platform that is owned by Yahoo! Inc. It currently hosts approximately 225 million microblogs. It has published more than 104.9 billion posts. As of March 2015, over 86 million posts are created on Tumblr every day.

Popular posts are short and usually come in the form of static photography, animated GIFs and memes. The industries that have found a particular foothold in Tumblr include fashion, entertainment and art. 

2. These Microbloggers are Young

A comScore report from 2011 states that half of Tumblr’s visitor base was under the age of 25. In January 2015, Adweek published a breakdown from eMarketer that predicted marketshare across different United States demographics for the top social networks. 

Here’s how predicted usage for Tumblr fared among the 179.7 million users in 2015:

    18-24: 23.3 percent;
    25-34: 27 percent;
    35-44: 15.5 percent;
    45-54: 10.8 percent;
    55-64: 6.2 percent;
    65+: 2.2 percent.
3. The dashboard is key

The dashboard is Tumblr’s equivalent to Facebook’s news feed. It’s the central hub for users and where they go to see the latest posts from their subscribed blog collection and where they post as well. Like most social networks, Tumblr is meant to be browsed, not truly searched. Seek something micro-specific among Tumblr’s microblogs and prepare to be disappointed. 

Enter a generic yet beloved topic like, say “dogs” or “Doctor Who” and prepare to spend the next hour down a Gif and meme-filled rabbit hole. According to Tumblr, 70 percent of their user base claim the Dashboard is their favorite place to spend time online.

4. Sponsored content can be seen

Tumblr’s business portal claims that: “Tumblr is ranked No. 1 in social sentiment towards brands,” according to Adobe’s Social Intelligence Report for third-quarter 2013. The key, according to Tumblr, is for brands to come up with content that “users want to see.” The 16-year-old questioned at the beginning of this article resoundingly backs up this sentiment. 

Sponsored content has been available on Tumblr since 2013 and currently offers these select units: sponsored posts, sponsored video posts, Radar Posts, which are viewable instantly on the dashboard, and Trending Blogs.  Sponsored posts can also be syndicated to Tumblr’s owner, Yahoo! Inc. Together, they boast 800 million unique visitors per month. 

5. Sponsored content can be blocked

There are multiple ways to block sponsored posts on Tumblr. “I have AdBlock up,” reports our 16-year-old subject. She shrugs. “Everybody does.” AdBlock is a popular browser app. The popularity of it can be attributed, in theory, to her generation’s position of active curators. 

This generation will come-of-age fully immersed in social networking and appear to be aware of the actions required to protect their sacred spaces. The presence of advertising, perhaps seen as an intrusion to 2013’s Tumblr users, is now happenstance, but not entirely unavoidable.

6. Some sponsored content will always be welcome 

At first, the concept of selling out is a foreign one to our young subject. “If it’s someone I follow and the content is good, I don’t care if it’s branded,” she replies to a question about influencer marketing. 

Then, she adds, “It has to be good though. Like, it can’t be something they wouldn’t have shared anyway.” This should be good news for brands that are putting its dollars for content creation in the hands of YouTube channel stars and popular Instagram denizens.  

7. Tumblr is the reason why you know stuff

In March 2015, The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey declared Tumblr to be the new front page of the Internet. The reason? A Tumblr blogger had just set the online world ablaze with one simple question: “Is this dress white and gold, or blue and black?” 

The trajectory of the “the dress” will go down in viral history, but its roots in Tumblr brought new notice to the platform and its role in what Neetzan Zimmerman calls, “the new Viral Cycle.” Dewey describes the platform as “a vast, unmapped network of niche communities.” Tumblr has capitalized on this potential by making small but significant changes to the dashboard, visibly elevating certain posts and encouraging users to share by making it easier than ever.  

The average time spent on Tumblr by users between the ages of 18 to 29 was 50.6 minutes per day. Now that you know where your 16-year-old demographic is spending so much time, maybe it’s time for your brand to join the party. 


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