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Tumblr Now Has Live Video: Why and What Your Brand Can Do About It

Tumblr just announced that it has live video with the sardonic, very Tumblr subheading, “This should be interesting.” Yes, yes it will be.

Tumblr is throwing its hat in the ring with all the other social networks that offer live video to brands and audiences: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat. But instead of competing with these networks as another location for creating live video, Tumblr has chosen to be the venue and home for live video.

This new feature is giving Tumblr a fresh sense of relevance. In this post, I’ll explain how Tumblr is entering the live video arena and how your brand can utilize it to your best advantage.

The Details

  • Tumblr does not have a native streaming video capability. Instead, the platform is enabling live video through YouNow, Kanvas, Upclose, and YouTube.
  • Live videos on Tumblr can be reblogged, giving your live content a longer lifespan on a whole different network. Related to this: your videos live on on Tumblr, so Tumblr users won’t miss out on your content just because they missed the show. This feeds in well to today’s on-demand consumption model — especially among the young people who flock to Tumblr.
  • Tumblr will notify your brand’s followers when your video goes live, and even pin it to the top of their dashboards. This algorithm heavily favors live video content, and provides a big incentive for brands to publish live videos on the network.

Why Go Live?

Can a social network turn into a TV network? I don’t know, but I think Tumblr is going to try. This ethos is present in Tumblr’s announcement post, which includes the following schedule for live video’s first day, June 21, 2016:

  • 4:00 p.m. Opening remarks live from the surface of Mars
  • 4:10 p.m. We will make Things Organized Neatly organize things neatly
  • 4:15 p.m. You will Answer Time live with @adamjk
  • 4:30 p.m. We will inflate a very big thing in a very small room
  • 4:45 p.m. A Harlem Globetrotter will teach you how to basketball
  • 5:00 p.m. You will learn the metaphysical truth about your Tumblr
  • 5:30 p.m. Closing remarks

Tumblr has two major advantages for brands: a devoted, active community base of young people, and a manipulable platform for brands and media publishers who want to reach this devoted community base. Your brand doesn’t have to create microcontent specifically for a network’s format. Tumblr allows users and brands to be as creative as they want, and build on top of its platform.

The 2016 State of Social Marketing

This flexibility extends to live video. Tumblr is offering lots of live video avenues into its platform. Because Tumblr uses the blog format, it could be making a play to become the hub for live video that feeds in from various sources (an “All roads lead to Rome” situation, if you will).

Smart brands will use live video on Tumblr as both a testing ground for content before they domesticate it for other social platforms, and also as a location to enact large-scale, brand-specific programming for those juicy younger audiences.

How You Can Use Live Video on Tumblr

  • Get people to follow you. A no-brainer, right? But this is especially relevant now, since only live videos posted by brands which Tumblr users follow will be pinned to that prime real estate on the top of the dashboard. If your content isn’t visible, why waste your time creating it? Make getting new followers your primary priority on Tumblr, and do this by partnering with already-popular influencers on the network, using relevant hashtags (more on that later), and posting content (not just live video) which doesn’t feel “branded” or “salesy,” and which resonates with your target audience for its own value.
  • Post often. Tumblr users follow a lot of other Tumblr users. You won’t stand a chance in the average user’s dashboard if you’re not posting videos on a regular basis. This is not a one-and-done commitment. You won’t see true business impact that way. Put together a programming schedule, and stick to it.
  • Use the right hashtags. Users find content and new people to follow on Tumblr by searching for terms relevant to their interests, or by getting exposed to a previously unknown user’s content through a re-blog which shows up on their dashboards. By using hashtags that your target audience is likely to search for (and that you want associated with your brand), you are more likely to get your live video content surfaced.
  • Think outside the box. For instance, instead of creating a Tumblr profile or live video series using your brand name, create a Tumblr alter ego and/or persona to broadcast from. Tumblr is the social network to get creative. So, get creative.
  • Know your audience. Every single strategy I am listing here requires a solid understanding of your target audience on Tumblr — which may be different than your target audience on other social networks. Do your research before sending content off into the Tumblr-verse that is unlikely to resonate with the people who spend time there.
  • Measure your impact. Shameless plug alert: Simply Measured has Tumblr analytics and is a part of the Tumblr A-List program. Know whether what you’re doing is working or not — then optimize.

How will you use live video on Tumblr? Let us know, and download the guide below to learn about other trends you might not have known about before.

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The 2016 State of Social Marketing


Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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