Why CMOs Should Care About Tumblr

By John Donnelly III, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Crimson Hexagon

If you put 12 people in a room and ask them to comment on a product, you'll get some useful feedback. These consumers might share thoughts about the product's packaging, how it stacks up to items they've used in the past, whether the pricing reflects the value and which adjectives they associate with the item. All of this is typical focus group fare, and it's been a pillar of marketing strategy for decades. However, chief marketing officers now need more sophisticated insights in order to win consumers and market share. Today, those insights are readily available in the largest focus group ever assembled: social media.

Unlike the in-person, microcosmic focus groups of the past, social media platforms give CMOs access to virtually unlimited groups of consumers engaged in unstaged brand discussions. These "conversations" might take place in 140 characters or in nearly wordless images, such as gifs. Whether they are textual, visual or both, though, social media interactions are more authentic than any offline focus group, and they are therefore more likely to elicit the broad and deep insights that can accurately inform every stage of marketing, from value propositions to tagline creation, strategic partnerships and beyond.

Why CMOs need to tune into Tumblr

Of all the places where CMOs are discovering the value of social insights, the one they are most likely to overlook is also among those most likely to inform their campaigns, especially if they're targeting younger consumers. As of last year, Tumblr is the fastest-growing social platform. It hosts more than 247 million blogs and claims more affluent users than Facebook, Twitter or any other competitive social media platform. It's past time CMOs pay attention to the modern focus group gathering every day on Tumblr.

Some brands have begun to access Tumblr by creating their own blogs, but they can do far more to glean insights about customer preferences, interests and influencers. Here are a few ways marketers can tap into the wealth of feedback on Tumblr:

1. Track the visual "mentions" about your brand.

When Tumblr users post pictures of themselves or their friends using a product, the brand's marketing team can learn a lot. How is the consumer using the product? Where? When? With whom? All of those insights, when analyzed in the aggregate, can tell a marketer a lot about how to reach prospects.

2. Identify influential partners.

By tracking visual and textual mentions on Tumblr, brands also get to see the other products and people their consumer base values and trusts. For example, there might be a blogger with a large following who frequently features the company's product lines. Perhaps there is a significant population of users who pair a brand's snack food with a certain micro brew. Or maybe the people who talk about a company's sportswear are also likely to be fans of a rising pop star. There are all kinds of partnership possibilities CMOs might consider based on insights like these.

3. Incorporate complementary user interests.

Unlike Facebook or some other platforms, Tumblr users aren't seeking out their own friends. They're reaching out to other people on the network with similar interests. Because of that, marketers are more likely to uncover trends in how their customers spend their time and money overall, which can lead to campaigns that speak to the whole consumer - not just why he should buy the brand's product, but how that product fits into his lifestyle.

There are more than 100 billion posts on Tumblr today, and those images and messages represent one of the most valuable consumer "focus groups" marketers have ever seen. CMOs need to tap into those insights in ways that resonate with modern consumers, who want to see their interests reflected in marketing content in new and authentic ways. This is the next frontier in strategic marketing, and the CMOs who get it right will be those who can direct it into cross-channel campaigns informed by user-generated social media content.

About the Author

As senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Crimson Hexagon, John Donnelly III is responsible for all go to market operations across marketing, sales and business development. Donnelly brings over 20 years of experience in the technology industry to Crimson, and has managed companies from start-up to over $700M in annual revenues.