Social Networks

With 13.4 billion unique page views last year, Tumblr has quickly asserted itself as king of the blogging world.  While Tumblr has almost unanimously been voted best personal blogging spot, business owners are wondering – is Tumblr a professional enough venue to sell a product or service?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using Tumblr in the business world.


Tumblr Pros

It is fast and easy.

Are you having a light day at work?  Don’t have plans for your lunch hour?  Why not sign up for a Tumblr account?  No joke – you can be posting in minutes.

And you don’t need to have HTML or CSS skills; there are plenty of free themes to choose from.  You don’t need to be a web designer (or have access to one) to create an eye-catching page.  Compared to WordPress, Tumblr is a cake walk.

This asset is especially valuable to small businesses where resources – particularly time and money – are stretched thin.

It is searchable.

Tumblr uses a very creative search method.  While there is no promise that your blog will appear in a random search, you can significantly increase the odds by adding tons of related keywords for your listing.  Making it easier for potential customers to find you is an obvious plus.

It meets readers’ needs.

These days, surfing is all about skimming – reading headlines, glancing at photos, and scanning lists.  Tumblr is all about that – using creative, image-based content is a must.  This means businesses can use a different and unique method of capturing clients’ attention.

It features a super helpful dashboard.

Tumblr’s dashboard is like Facebook’s News Feed.  It allows people to see news from all the blogs they follow.  Business can use the dashboard to share sales, coupons, upcoming events, etc.

It encourages the use of photos in an unconventional way.

Sure, you can use your Tumblr account like a sales flyer, displaying products and services.  You can even use it to showcase valued customers and promotional events.  But what businesses should really capitalize on is using images in new and creative ways.

For example, The Mermaid Inn uses their Tumblr account to share images of mermaids.  This helps increase brand awareness in a fun and interesting way.

Tumblr Cons

It doesn’t allow for much control.

If Tumblr crashes, your blog crashes – and there isn’t much you can do about it.  However, on the plus side, social networks rarely stay down for long.

Also, Tumblr doesn’t allow much control over formatting, themes, and other plugins.  More advanced platforms – say WordPress – let users have a say in how their page looks.

This con is probably more of an issue for bigger businesses who don’t have the patience for inefficiency and don’t appreciate restrictions on control.

It might restrict sales

While the proof is still pending, some will argue that Tumblr is not commerce-friendly.  It isn’t super easy to integrate a shopping cart feature; you’ll probably have to turn to someone for help with a commerce platform add-on.  We (hopefully) don’t need to elaborate on why non-commerce friendly sites are bad for business!

It might not reach your demographic.

Before putting a significant amount of time and effort into any social media platform, you should first analyze your target audience.  Do your prospective clients use social media?  Do they enjoy blogs?

According to Mark Coatney of Tumblr, 56% of the monthly visitors from the US are under the age of 34.  Does that jive with who you hope to reach?

There are a lot of benefits to using Tumblr.  Few can argue that the unique search feature, aesthetically pleasing interface, and super-quick start-up doesn’t bring a breath of fresh air to the blogging community.  However, each business needs to weigh the pros against the cons.  Does the lack of certain business tools make Tumblr just another social media account that demands your attention without promising a ROI?

Let us know what you think.  Does your business use Tumblr?

Guest author Mark Stevens is a website designer for Subtle Network Design & Marketing.  He enjoys helping clients, no matter which content management system they choose.

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