Inside Tumblr’s strategy to use Twitter’s chaos to bring back brands

Inside Tumblr’s strategy to use Twitter’s chaos to bring back brands


Tumblr, which began in 2007 as a social media and blogging site, has struggled to compete against newer rivals like TikTok and Instagram in recent years. The platform attracted high-profile brands in the early 2010s, including Starbucks, BMW, Audi, AT&T and Apple (for which Tumblr was actually the brand’s first social media presence).

Tumblr also partnered with several creative agencies in 2012 to extend its advertising efforts, such as Droga5, R/GA and BBH. 

But Tumblr’s 2017 acquisition by Verizon effectively heralded a deterioration of its brand partnerships work. Under the ownership of Verizon—which inherited Tumblr when it purchased the platform’s previous owner, Yahoo—there was no dedicated team at Tumblr for brand outreach efforts, and the absence of discussions surrounding Tumblr in the advertising realm led brands to forget about the platform, according to a former Tumblr employee.

Tumblr has looked to try to revitalize brand interest since being purchased in 2019 by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. While Tumblr has seen some brands including Netflix and Marvel launch campaigns on the platform, it remains largely overshadowed by rival platforms, including Twitter, when it comes to social media marketing. 

But Tumblr is now actively working to set itself apart from those competitors and sway Twitter users and brands to its platform. It launched a site specifically designed to acclimate new and returning users that includes a “welcome guide” with information and frequently asked questions about Tumblr, along with a tutorial for how to link a Twitter account and its contents to a Tumblr blog. “Automatically post your Tumblr to your Twitter, while it still exists,” the page quips. 

Castillo also pinned a “reasons to join Tumblr” thread at the top of the site’s Twitter account, and Tumblr mocked the disastrous rollout of Twitter’s paid verification system with the ability to purchase pointless “Important Blue Internet Checkmarks” on its platform. 


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