Tumblr Marketing: 10 Effective Brands Doing It Right

If you still haven’t jumped on the Tumblr bandwagon, now is the time to get moving on that. After all, according to QuickSprout, Tumblr’s traffic is growing at a rate of 74% a year. And, along with over 300 million unique visitors per month, Tumblr has become a goldmine for anyone wanting to spread brand awareness.

Tumblr states it “is ranked #1 in social sentiment towards brands”. Furthermore, if you were to use Tumblr’s sponsored posts, you could reach more than 800 million visitors – thanks to Tumblr being a part of Yahoo. Of course, you can’t just dive into the world of Tumblr without doing a bit of homework. That’s why you should do some preparation before entering this world of teens and millennials. Here are a handful of tips to keep in mind when tinkering around with Tumblr marketing.

Create a Strategic Plan for Tumblr

In KISSMetrics’ “The Marketer’s Guide to Tumblr,” it’s suggested that if you’re not familiar with using Tumblr for marketing, you sit down with your team and ask the following questions:

  • Why do you want to create a Tumblr blog?
  • Who will run the Tumblr blog?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What will be the focus behind your Tumblr blog?
  • What are your weaknesses and strengths?
  • Are you truly committed to this effort?

Know the Culture and Language of Tumblr

Remember, Tumblr is full of niche communities and subcultures that use their own dialects (for example: hyperbolic language, irony, or loose grammar) and resources such as reaction GIFs or clever Tumblr domain names. This may be intimidating at first, but it also means you can experiment until you find your voice on Tumblr.

Kevin Shively, senior marketing manager at Simply Measured, suggests to Amanda Walgrove on Contently, “Understanding the network and audience you’re marketing to is crucial no matter where you are, but even more so on Tumblr, which has managed to maintain an ‘underground appeal’ to a lot of niche markets.”

Follow Your Fans and Share Their Content on Tumblr

Tessa Wright states on Content Marketing Institute that, “following your consumers is an important courtesy that shows your brand is listening and appreciates what they have to say.” Wright uses the HBO series Games of Thrones as an example. The Tumblr blog “maintains an open call for creations on its Tumblr page, and the quality of the submissions it receives is simply stunning”. HBO can then use entries to promote on its other social media outlets. HBO also uses Tumblr to increase engagement by running contests.

Let Tumblr Help

For the last couple of years, Tumblr has done a rather solid job of assisting brands in getting started. In fact, once you land on the Tumblr Business page you’ll spot a clickable button that will let you contact a brand strategist. In addition to that, there’s also Tumblr’s Creative Cooperative. This is “a series of workshops for brands and agencies that teach creatives how to speak Tumblr, build a fandom and create content.” So, if all else fails, reach out to Tumblr to help your brand get the ball rolling.

Now that you have some stats and tips on why Tumblr is a great platform for marketing your brand, let’s take a look at 10 examples who are doing it right – in no particular order.

1. Apple

Tumblr iTunes screenshot taken January 22, 2015

Apple is pretty notorious when it comes to using social media for marketing campaigns. However, when the brand released a campaign for the iPhone 5C in March 2014, Tumblr was the brand’s first choice. The webpage called “ISee5c” featured videos of the various phone colors with a different song for each. According to 9to5Mac, some on Tumblr reported “that the iPhone 5c colors Tumblr page is showing up as a Sponsored Post in their Dashboards. This means that the page’s creator is paying Tumblr/Yahoo for the iPhone 5c page to show up as an advertisement.”

Recently, Apple returned to Tumblr with a new iTunes site, which pretty much mirrors the design of the iTunes store. As TechCrunch reports, the site is “currently promoting the ‘best of 2014’ in music, movies, TV and books. The blog features ‘best of’ videos for each category, combined with shareable GIFs, images, quotes, and other content ideal for reblogging.”

Why This Is Effective: As mentioned on Digiday, “a look at how Tumblr’s user demographic (56.1 percent are 34 years old or younger) coincides with the iPhone 5c’s customer (56.6 percent are 34 or younger).” In other words,  this was a perfect match. In the future, Apple can continue to use Tumblr as way to reach younger audiences – like it could currently be doing with the iTunes Tumblr.

2. Lexus

The Signal screenshot taken January 22, 2015

You wouldn’t think that a luxury like Lexus would embrace a platform like Tumblr. But, not only did Lexus do just that, the brand also unleashed an award-winning Tumblr campaign. With the edgy “The Signal” campaign, Lexus focused on creating ads that more closely resembled fashion ads, as opposed to just another automobile Tumblr account. This was done by curating authentic content that tapped into the most popular Tumblr tag categories. The result? “The Signal” was awarded the Best Tumblr Campaign at the 6th Annual Shorty Awards in 2014.

Why This Is Effective: When Lexus released the IS, it wanted to reach people mainly under the age of 46. The problem? The brand realized that it “was increasingly losing relevance” to this target audience. It also took “declining appeal and lackluster sales” for Lexus to realize that its brand no longer stood out. To appeal to their target audience, Lexus designed a vehicle that Gen X and Y would want to drive; and they used Tumblr to deliver that message. As a result, “The Signal” successfull was able to reach that demographic, “with visitors to the blog indexing highest in the 25 – 34 age range, followed by 18 – 24.”

3. Vans

Vans screenshot taken January 22, 2015

As Christopher Ratcliff states on Econsultancy, “Vans does an excellent job in tapping into its own cultural heritage and providing a social experience that is in turns aspirational, inspirational, and nostalgic.” Furthermore, the brand uses social media as “a mutually beneficial exchange, the brand defines the community and the community defines the brand.” So, it should come as no surprise that Vans also has an awesome Tumblr. For starters, Vans has high-quality and creative images that represent the lifestyle of its audience – from both the brand and fans. It also does an excellent job of tying in its other channels so that you can share and interact with the brand across multiple platforms.

Why This Is Effective: Vans knows where its audience hangs out. The challenge, then, is creating content for the platform that their audience will engage with and share. The Vans Tumblr definitely achieves that by embracing the rebellious, communal, and youthful spirit that the brand has become known for.

4. Penguin Random House

Screen Shot Penguin Random House 1/22/15

When author Rainbow Rowell created Tumblr’s Reblog Book Club, she was interviewed by the LA Times. What was interesting was the Rowell stated that she had seen “LOTS of librarians” on Tumblr. She even described it as “a place full of enthusiastic readers and writers: poetry, fan fiction, novels, everything.” With that in mind, why wouldn’t publisher Penguin Random House have an active Tumblr? Every day, their Tumblr is updated with literary-related images, quotes, GIFs, videos, or links to purchase a book that has been mentioned.

Why This Is Effective: Knowing that there is a large community of literary lovers who use Tumblr as their social media preference, Penguin Random House manages to create a location for their audience to gather, share and view industry-related content.

5. MTV

MTV screenshot taken January 22, 2015

This just makes sense. As a brand that appeals to a younger generation, MTV is very active on Tumblr. Most of the content involves images, GIFs, and Twitter snapshots of celebrities. However, MTV also shares social causes that its demographics may be passionate about. Of course, it also uses this platform to remind audience members when their favorite show is going to air.

Why This Is Effective: MTV knows where its demographic hangs out and knows the content that they are interested in. By posting several times a day, MTV is able to keep the attention of its young audience. Apparently, this relationship was good enough to strike up a partnership last year that involved Tumblr and Viacom teaming up “to ‘deliver co-branded campaigns for advertisers’ in 2014 for major properties such as MTV, VH1, CMT, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central.”

6. Pom Wonderful

Simply Wonderful screenshot taken January 22, 2015

How could you possibly make a Tumblr blog involving pomegranate juice interesting? How about by converting the pomegranate into a full-fledged lifestyle? On Tumblr, Pom Wonderful shares rich content involving recipes, interviews with chefs, pomegranate basics, videos and even inspirational images of the fruit.

Why This Is Effective: This blog is a perfect example of what Tumblr is all about; curating content from all the over web that revolves around one specific item or interest. In other words, Pom Wonderful embraced the fruit that made it a successful brand and made it the star by only sharing content that involves pomegranates.

7. eBay

The Inside Source screenshot taken January 22, 2015

Some of us would not consider eBay a fashion hub, or even a destination for trendsetters. But, it’s Tumblr, and The Inside Source proves otherwise. Janelle Vreeland states on Lonelybrand that ebay “has revamped its image to include discount offers from notable fashion brands, a partnership with Rue La La, a new fashion-focused app, and a new Pinterest-inspired appearance.” Through Inside Source, eBay can share the latest tips and trends in fashion, art, design and lifestyle. Does this mean that eBay has neglected its brand? Nope. As Vreeland says, “The Inside Source still keeps the eBay brand and the service it provides front and center,” by linking to similar products that are available for purchase on the site.

Why This Is Effective: There are a couple of things eBay is doing right with Tumblr. For starters, it focuses on a niche. It created a Tumblr that focuses on high-quality images showcasing trendy fashion and design items. Once the audience has been hooked, it links to eBay for purchase. Another thing that eBay has succeeded in doing is highlighting top sellers by showing off their product listings on Tumblr.

8. Gatorade

Gatorade screenshot taken January 22, 2015

Gatorade’s Tumblr is sports focused – which just makes sense when you manufacture sports-themed beverages and food products. Included on the Tumblr are motivational quotes, vintage images, athletes, videos, and GIFS. What’s really clever about this site is that Gatorade embraces other channels – there’s a collection of Instagram images on the left side of the screen in plan view. Another example is featuring GIFs taken from inspirational videos created by the brand, like this one featuring 12 year-old Erica Wilson.

Why This Is Effective: Gatorade is strictly focusing on sports enthusiasts on Tumblr. That may seem bit too broad, but there’s enough content here to reach fans of any sport – and Gatorade can use timely sports content throughout the year, such as baseball in the spring or summer. What I really like about this Tumblr is how easy it is to share the content – just click on an image and share with the network you want. And, as I already mentioned, it seamlessly integrates with other platforms.

9. Delta Airlines

Taking Off screenshit

It’s not uncommon for brands to offer customer service via Facebook or Twitter. But, how about Tumblr? That’s what Delta Airlines has done with its Taking Off site. At the top of the site you’ll notice that there’s a Contact icon that can be used for any questions, concerns, or inquiries. However, Delta also has content that travelers can use to make their time at airport go smoothly. For example, they have an entry regarding its new terminal at JFK. Here visitors can view a video and read all about the new terminal so they’ll know what to expect, and maybe even get excited, when they arrive.

Why This Is Effective: If you’re involved in the hospitality industry, then you know that your customer service has to be superior. In fact, “customer service and marketing go hand in hand.”

By making it easier for customers to interact and find information they will find helpful and entertaining, Delta is able to market itself as a brand that cares about its customers.

10. St. Ives

St. Ives screenshot taken January 22, 2015

With fun, exotic, and stunning imagery, the skincare company takes you from your boring real-life to an exciting fictional world that kind of resemble Hawaii. For example, there are images of people getting stressed, like during the holidays, that show them escape by thinking about St. Ives products. There are also animations, like a computer screen disappearing to reveal a beach. The company even ran a contest on Tumble for fans to actually win a trip to Hawaii.

Why This Is Effective: The St. Ives Tumblr has a theme – to make life more exciting and less stressful. While not all of us may relate skin care products to excitement or relaxation, it’s easy to understand why – it provides at least a temporary escape. And, the contest for the Hawaii trip was the icing on the cake to tie this whole theme together.


Tumble can be overwhelming, or even misunderstood, for brands. However, it has proven to be an effective and active community of people who are willing to share, create, and interact with each other. As long as you are aware of these communities, speak their language, create engaging visual content, and interact with your audience, you can use Tumblr as an effective marketing tool.

Is there a brand that you believe does exceptionally well on Tumblr with marketing?


Featured Image: Tumblr, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons