Should B2B companies follow the B2C lead and join Tumblr?

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Tumblr is having a sunny autumn: Nestle-owned coffee giant Nescafe has moved all of its previously self-hosted brand content to microblogging platform and social media site Tumblr. Restaurant chain Denny’s is winning more fans after it made the move to Tumblr.

But did you know that B2B firms such as IBM and General Electric are also using the platform?

In this article, we’ll explore if B2B execs should follow B2C’s lead to bring their marketing efforts to Tumblr.

Outreach to younger audiences

In an interview with B2Bnn, Nescafe’s Global Head of Digital Media Michael Chrisment said, “The move is to open up Nescafe to a broader number of people. Tumblr as a platform is attracting millennials and younger consumers who are specifically of interest to us.”

Chrisment said that Yahoo!-owned Tumblr allows Nescafe to promote on a very agile platform. “The Tumblr experience is very connected. It allows us to talk to everyone and be truly accessible, bringing a bespoke experience to our audience,” added Chrisment.

When asked how they accounted for Tumblr’s limitations as a sole platform, Chrisment said that he doesn’t believe in hosting everything in one platform.

“It’s an ecosystem. Facebook is still there. Twitter is still there. It’s a matter of syncing these platforms and maximizing that.”

Nescafe has more than 35 million fans on social media to date.

Denny’s: Brand blog success on Tumblr

Nescafe may be the first global brand to fully migrate self-hosted sites to Tumblr, but there are many big-name brands who have already hosted parts of their online presence on the microblogging site.

A notable example is the fast casual family restaurant chain Denny’s.

When asked about the performance of their Tumblr-hosted blog, Denny’s CMO John Dillon said it has performed “exceptionally well.”

He noted, “Tumblr has far exceeded our expectations and the growth has continued. In fact, Tumblr is Denny’s highest-engaged platform, with much larger organic engagement relative to more traditional brand platforms.

“We like to challenge ourselves and create authentic content in the spirit of the channel, instead of relying on content that resembles more traditional advertising.”

Unlike Nescafe, Denny’s only migrated its blog and still maintains its brand site Dennys.com as a self-hosted entity.

Dillon said they chose Tumblr for their blog due to its ease of use and its existing highly-engaged creative user base. “[Tumblr] allows us to share various types of content such as photos, GIFs, conversations that are fun, relevant and timely with our guests,” said Dillon.

He added that each of their posts often accrues several thousand engagements, called “notes” on Tumblr.

Nescafe is gunning for traction similar to what Denny’s has achieved.

Do B2B marketers need to pay attention?

Yahoo!-owned Tumblr is growing at a rapid pace. According to eMarketer, the site has attracted around 8 million users between ages 18 and 34 in 2014. The microblogging site has bested social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in terms of user growth as well.

On the marketing side, Tumblr is still dominantly a B2C playground; but its rapid user growth opens up opportunities for B2B marketing as well.

Act On’s Pam Neely has compiled a list of B2B companies currently using Tumblr as part of their marketing efforts–IBM, General Electric, and Analyticisms among them.

A quick peek at these companies’ Tumblr sites show that visual content is the main leveraging point for B2B marketing on Tumblr. Aside from publishing original content, these firms are also utilizing Tumblr’s “reblog” function to curate content from other sources.

We’ve noticed how IBM’s Smarter Planet Tumblr curates articles and info on innovation, smart home tech, climate change and more. The content covers a lot of range, and thus attract a high engagement rate (or “notes”, which is Tumblr language for actions taken on a post, from a “like” to comments).

The list of B2B firms on Tumblr is short, and thus shows that although some companies include Tumblr in their marketing strategy, it’s still not an essential part of a B2B social media marketing plan.

On the other hand, the B2C space is thriving on the platform.

Marketing experts react

We interviewed top marketing experts about the pros and cons of joining Tumblr.

Neil Patel of KissMetrics said, “moving to Tumblr as a business is silly. Sure, it has some social aspect to it, but due to its limitations you can’t optimize for SEO or conversion as you could with a more flexible platform.”

Patel said he isn’t against using Tumblr, but brands shouldn’t replace their main sites with Tumblr. “In an ideal world, you would be using both,” he added.

Moz’s Rand Fishkin shared Patel’s views saying, “it’s very unwise.”

“They don’t own or control the platform and Yahoo! could, at any time, change, shut down, sell, or stop supporting Tumblr. My advice is to never build your marketing base on a platform you don’t control.“

While Patel and Fishkin expressed clear opposition to the move, Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi positively welcomed Nescafe’s decision.

“I believe the move to get closer to your audiences is usually smart. If they believe the move to Tumblr can help them do that, it’s a great experiment,” said Pulizzi.

However, Pulizzi added that right now, it looks like Nescafe is using Tumblr less as a place to create conversation but more as a content management system (CMS). Pulizzi said there is no obvious difference between using Tumblr and leveraging other CMS platforms at the moment.

“It’s incredibly important to focus on the needs of the audience first, so if they believe this move is good for the customer base, that’s great. If it’s just a corporate move to simplicity a la Apple, it may or may not work,” he added.

Christment said launch performance numbers for Nescafe.com on Tumblr are yet to be processed.

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Aki Merced

Aki Merced

Aki Merced is a freelance business and technology writer. Her focus is on creating content that connects and converts. Visit her website at www.akimerced.com. Follow her on twitter @akimerced.