Yahoo recently purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion, leading some to wonder whether the acquisition was a smart business move, and others to ask, “What is Tumblr?” In fact, the blogging platform and social networking website, known for its popularity with young people, should not be ignored by legal marketers.
One purpose of Tumblr is to host blogs – more than 108 million of them. The platform has proven popular with users who want to share their ideas, but may not have enough content to make a full website blog worthwhile. Hence the term “microblog.” Legal marketers should be familiar with the importance of a regularly-updated blog as a way of providing potential clients with fresh news about their field, keeping their firm's name in the public eye, and improving search engine rankings. But your firm likely already maintains a blog on the firm's own website. So why use Tumblr?
Part of the answer to this question is simply that Tumblr is a part of the Internet that millions of people are using. Just as Facebook has become a secondary world within the Internet, with users spending large amounts of time being entertained and seeking information wholly within that environment, so also has Tumblr. Second, Tumblr is not only a blogging platform but also a social network. Users “follow” blogs created by their Facebook friends or Gmail contacts. Bloggers may share with Facebook friends or Twitter followers when they create a new Tumblr post.
As the use of electronic social networks has exploded, the importance of word-of-mouth marketing has only increased. More so than other types of businesses, potential clients choose an attorney or a law firm based on reputation. Today, people keep in touch with friends and colleagues through online social networks, so when the conversation turns to your field, your firm needs to have a presence there.
As with every online world, Tumblr has its own protocols, and legal marketing will work best if a law firm adheres to the conventions of the community. Simply cutting and pasting your firm's existing website blog into a Tumblr blog will not accomplish much. Be aware that many Tumblr blogs are indeed “micro,” so this is generally not the space for longer news articles. Short snippets of information about current trends and statistics in your field are ideal. Keep in mind as well that many Tumblr blogs are highly visual, so including a photograph or illustration with each post is a good way to fit in with the Tumblr style. Many Tumblr blogs are humorous and casual. Without compromising your firm's professionalism, a more light-hearted, human-interest tone is appropriate.
Once you are posting regularly on Tumblr, make sure you are linked to your other social networks. You may share posts on your firm's Facebook Timeline and Twitter feed, provide a link from your firm's website, and follow colleagues on Tumblr as ways of generating interest in your Tumblr blog.
So should your firm create a Tumblr blog? The answer depends in part on whether your marketing team is willing to update it regularly with short, interesting posts that will attract followers over time and maintain your firm's presence in that community. Until the Yahoo acquisition, many people knew little about Tumblr, and its user base is heavily skewed toward young people, with half its users under the age of 25, so it might not seem at first glance to be a priority for law firm marketing. However, young people were the early adopters of many now-ubiquitous online social networks, and you might be surprised how many people in your client base are avid Tumblr fans. A little time spent learning the ropes of the Tumblr community will pay off with every potential client that is impressed with your firm's contributions.