Event Recap: Fashion Loves Tumblr

Event Recap: Fashion Loves Tumblr

In the world of ROI, bottom lines and startup budgets, it’s difficult sometimes to know where to focus in order to enhance a brand’s image. From the old reliables like Facebook and Twitter to the confusing (at best) Google+, there are nearly too many options to search for the “best” platform. Thankfully, our friends at Wantering focused on one platform in particular, and reminded us why Fashion Loves Tumblr.

Wednesday’s discussion, moderated by Wantering’s Kathleen Ong and Nick Molnar, began with a brief history of fashion on Tumblr and progressed through topics like paid radar posts, how to select the right theme, and the “missing pieces” of Tumblr that could make the platform stronger for brands. The panel consisted of a variety of backgrounds, with Jessica Conatser, social media director for Milk Studios, Grace Atwood, director of social media for BaubleBar, James Cury, web director of Details, and Nolan McHugh, strategist from ALLDAYEVERYDAY. With a lineup like that, the panel was able to discuss the benefits and shortcomings from perspectives that covered startups, established publications and agencies.

So why does fashion love Tumblr?

Put simply, users of Tumblr spend more time on the platform than Facebook users, and Tumblr provides the most room for creative freedom compared to the major players in the social platform race. Consider this: on Facebook a brand has a cover photo, a profile picture and wall photos to work with. In the same sense, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram all virtually do the same thing, in that you can post a picture or visual content but you are basically limited to the size that those platforms have pre-determined. In contrast, with Tumblr you have the potential to essentially manipulate every pixel of space on the screen except for the area reserved in the top right corner for the “Follow/Unfollow” and “Dashboard” buttons.

Set a goal, create a story and let your community help you build your brand.

With that type of freedom, the conversation took aim at the use of original content, which many have said is the key to finding the elusive success that some brands have managed to reach. Conatser took this notion one step further with the advice that the content should speak for itself. In considering what is successful on Tumblr, your posts should be created with the ability to tell their own story; content strong enough to stand on it’s own is crucial for the Tumblr community. To take the concept further, Atwood suggested that shying away from reblogging content that doesn’t meet that criteria is also a good way of maintaing a higher standard for the posts that are on a brand’s blog. To stick to this school of thought, a brand, such as a magazine like Details, can repurpose print material, which may see a better response online than it did offline.

Unfortunately, even the best content can get lost in an inappropriate theme choice. There are hundreds of themes to choose from that cost absolutely nothing, and that’s a lot to take in.

How do you pick the right theme?

According to McHugh and Cury, the overwhelmingly important first step is to determine what your goal is with a Tumblr. Just like developing a brand, or even a personal blog, the item that you want your community to focus the most on is what should guide your decision in theme selection. In other words, if you want a visitor to spend time on your Tumblr, engaging with the content, then content needs to be front and center with very few distractions to pull their attention away from that post. On the other hand, if you are attempting to use Tumblr to push visitors through to your main site, then your blog should look like a portal, in the sense that it is intuitive for the visitor to follow the path you’ve created to your primary site.

That advice may seem obvious. But thenif it was, we’d all be experts at building Tumblr communities. Since so few people have figured out the crucial element to gaming the Tumblr system, the panel was asked who they thought used Tumblr well. As should have been expected, Burberry was a favorite, but then again, what haven’t they done right with social media in the last few years?

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Finally, with all of the benefits to using Tumblr, the inevitable question of shortcomings was discussed, which has been an issue for many brands when it comes to determining if Tumblr is worth it. Though all of the panelists suggest using Tumblr because of the built-in community that you basically step into, a unanimous agreement was that measuring ROI is nearly impossible with the platform. Granted, Tumblr said at Social Media Week 2013 that their primary focus was on the community and content, not on followers and proving popularity, but when it comes to brands with small budgets, that unique beauty of Tumblr is exactly what stands in the way.

In regard to building brand loyalty and image, difficulty in proving ROI can be a bit of a speedbump, but considering the freedom and community that Tumblr provides for free it’s difficult to say that it’s acceptable to not be on the platform. If nothing else, Tumblr allows you to determine how followers are engaged and appreciated, and if Poshmark’s Report taught us anything it’s that appreciation goes a long way.

Set a goal, create a story and let your community help you build your brand. Loyalty will show you what works and what doesn’t, just trust the people that love you and your brand. By the end of the night the panel did exactly as it promised, and proved that fashion most definitely loves Tumblr.


Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave.  Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.

Jeff Wilber is a guest writer from TheFreelanceRider.