Content Marketing are buzz words for everyone in the digital marketing world. David Hayes heads the Canvas think tank at Tumblr and explains why brands have to ‘go native’ to be successful at content marketing, and shares his views on where this movement is heading.
WHAT DOES “CANVAS” STAND FOR?
One of the top three maxims that we believe in at Tumblr is that the paltform is an unlimited canvas. You can build any type of experience with content on Tumblr. That freedom is something brands have gravitated towards, which is why we created the so-called Canvas think-tank. It’s a team of creative strategists that I oversee, and for two years now, we’ve activated brands to come to the platform, and then develop a unique approach for each brand on Tumblr. So, at Canvas we educate brands and come up with strategies for their content creation, we show them what kind of communities they could align with to achieve their obejctives. As a group we think of us as a creative think-tank for brands, and we’re composed of ten creative strategists scattered around the country in the various Tumblr offices.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE ONE OF THOSE CREATIVE STRATEGISTS?
First and foremost you need a deep passion and love for Tumblr. Another phrase that describes this state of mind is to be a “Tumblr Native”. That’s when you’re indigenous at Tumblr and spend a lot of time inside the Tumblr communities, you’re engaging with the content our users are uploading everyday. I also looked at the Tumblr’s I love, like Denny’s for example, and reached out to the creative heads behind their strategy. Two of our best hires came from Denny’s, which is an award winning example of a modern way to run a Tumblr, and use content to connect with the millenial generation. Another breathtaking example is the Send them a Signal Tumblr for Lexus. It shows how an automobile brand can tap into the fashion community on Tumblr. We were fortunate to hire Molly who was the strategist behind that campaign. So, first we look for talents who are natives to Tumblr and then we look at their proven success with brands.
WHAT KIND OF COMPANIES USE TUMBLR AS A BRANDING PLATFORM?
The most surprising thing, and the thing that keeps me enchanted with Tumblr, is the fact that all companies, especially the one’s you might think won’t work on Tumblr, end up having success. I come from a movie studio background and the digital marketing side. Tumblr identified me because I worked on the digital campaign of the Hunger Games where I ran the Capitol Couture Tumblr. So I arrived at Tumblr with this association of entertainment marketing which is considered the easy stuff. Admitteldy I was stunned to see how the brands that weren’t so easy to imagine on Tumblr were having the most success. At DLD15 I’ll be talking more about why that’s the case!
HOW DOES BRANDED CONTENT AFFECT USER CREATED CONTENT?
In the last couple of years hundreds of brands have shifted their campaign headquarters to Tumblr. They have relocated their microsites to Tumblr, which means their home now is on Tumblr. That in turn means a lot of brand influence is wielded onto our user base. What’s important to us is that we teach brands to be Tumblr natives. Before we let them post any content we teach them about their community so that they create content that fits in with the content created by users and doesn’t block up space with conventional ads. So our single best practice is: “Act like a native to become a native.” All successful brands have applied that best practice which is part of preserving what we all love about Tumblr.
DO TUMBLR USERS APPRECIATE THE BRAND CREATED CONTENT?
Well, we have users asking brands to marry them (laughs). I think that says it all.
CAN BRANDS MEASURE WHAT THEY GET OUT OF BRANDING ON TUMBLR?
We’ve done many studies and regularly do case studies to prove the value that we can bring to a brand. But I think often companies that use Tumblr as a branding site have a slightly different objective than merely counting how many more products they’ve sold. It’s more about breeding loyalists who in turn will create profit, and if you do it right Tumblr is incredibly effective at that.
SO WHERE DO YOU THINK CONTENT CREATION IS HEADING?
Our aim is to help brands create content that inpsires to the level of art. We’ve had a lot of success and very few failures hitting that type of objective. The reason we put such an emphasis on that aim is becasue our users demand it. Tumblr is, I would say, the densest and richest and highest quality environment for collecting, creating and curating content. It’s at the center stage of content marketing. Already there is a lot of preseeure for brands to be up there, with users on the same level. If you project five years into the future, there will be an even larger movement, that you could sum up as “brands are publishers”. We’ve reached a time where people speak a visual language online. So that brands will need to become experts at publishing visual content. It think Tumblr’s expertise is to advise brands in how to create beautiful, inspiring content for that future movement.