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Brand Storytelling: Why Marissa Mayer Says Tumblr Engagement is Too Good to Ignore

Last week, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer put Tumblr front and center at the Yahoo! NewFront event by highlighting the network’s unique format for creative storytelling, and impressive native advertising platform.

“The average post on Tumblr is reblogged 14 times, but the average sponsored post on Tumblr is reblogged 10,000 times.  –  Marissa Mayer

Mayer went on to explain that Tumblr, while great for advertisers, is also a great “creative canvas” for brands to tell their story online, highlighting the creative storytelling by Coca Cola, who’s Tumblr blog is branded as “where happiness happens” and Dior, known for sharing a different component of their business each week.

Mayer on Tumblr’s Value

So how, exactly, are brands using Tumblr?  Who’s using it the best? And is it working as well as Mayer suggests? I took a look at the top 10 brands from our Tumblr Channel Study of the Interbrand 100 “Best Global Brands” to find out.

MTV Leads the Pack

The top 10 brands from our study were Sprite, MTV, Disney, Tiffany & Co., Ralph Lauren, Adidas, GAP, Coca Cola, Hermes, and American Express. Of these brands, MTV is investing exponentially more resources than the others, even Mayer’s example, Coca-Cola:

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MTV posts exponentially more often than the rest of the group, averaging 10.1 posts a day and focusing on photo content. This focus is putting MTV in the spotlight. The media giant is reblogged 520% more often than the group average, and they receive 868% more shares of their Tumblr posts outside of the Tumblr network – one of the ways their Tumblr presence continues to grow.

But what about engagement? Mayer suggests that the average sponsored post is reblogged 10,000 times. How are these leaders doing?

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MTV dominated the top posts during April. Coca-Cola was able to squeeze into the mix with a few of their own, but MTV’s Movie Awards were a big draw for many followers. Their top post has been reblogged over 85K times, but several others from the show came in at over 10K reblogs. This level of engagement dwarfs that of many other networks. This could be due to the amount of time Tumblr visitors dedicate to the site.


As Mayer demonstrated, Tumblr’s focus on “storytelling” lends well to longer sessions, where discovery and narrative become more and more crucial.

Lessons from Sprite

Tumblr also boasts a component of longevity, which is something we learned from Sprite as we pored over data for our study:

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This single post was removed from our study averages as an outlier in an effort to normalize the data. With more than 85k reblogs, Sprite’s big post nearly matched the number of reblogs for all other brand posts combined. Although it would have skewed study findings, it is a testament to how brands can realize success on Tumblr.

Sprite has created an interactive, animation-heavy experience for users with their Tumblr page, a concept that isn’t possible on other networks. This particular post is an animated GIF of a game of spin the bottle. Not very complex, but it captured the imagination of Sprite’s audience.

Sprite’s big post was initially made on June 19th, prior to our study. However, throughout the study period, reblogs of the post actually picked up steam. During that time, direct reblogs on  Sprite’s page accounted for less than 1% of total reblogs – nearly all reblogs of the post were amplified by other users’ blogs.

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Multiple reblog peaks demonstrate the potential for content to continue to be distributed on Tumblr long after the initial brand post, and amplification outside of the Sprite blog underscores the importance of focusing on engaging content over brand audience size.

Rather than mega influencers, Sprite’s post was shared by a large number of users and was reblogged from nearly 32k unique Tumblr blogs: the top blog accounted for nearly 600 reblogs, and the top 100 blogs were responsible for just 11,500 reblogs.

Endless Storytelling Possibilities – And How to Measure Your Own Tumblr Success

Mayer is clearly setting Tumblr up as the social media space for advertisers who are trying to tell panoramic narratives or test out new visually-based content. It’s also a great (and uniquely positioned) place to go viral and garner organic traction with paid media. To learn more about Simply Measured’s Tumblr analytics and how you can use them to develop and improve your own brand strategy on the network, click the link below:

Learn more about Tumblr analytics

Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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