Magazine publishers and editors are bombarded with social networking platforms and are constantly cultivating ideas as to how to take advantage of them to reach readers, monetize and refer traffic. During the 2011 FOLIO: Show at New York’s Marriott Marquis, keynote speaker Mark Coatney, director and media evangelist of Tumblr, provided the audience with insights into what the platform can do for publications.
“In a nutshell, Tumblr is the most efficient way to tell your story the way you want it to be told: complete freedom of content combined with an excellent distribution network,” he told the audience in summary. “It’s the simplest way to share information and connect.”
Coatney urged magazine publishers and editors to take advantage of the platform not only because of its usability, but also because of its growing popularity. There are 34 million Tumblr users worldwide and everyday there are about 40 million posts. Around 100,000 new individuals join every day and the platform has 100 million monthly unique visitors, with the average visit being about 23 minutes long.
“If you have something really unique and interesting, this is a great way to expose it to a huge audience of people,” Coatney said. “It’s an effective sharing tool to quickly distribute content across an entire network.”
The format of the social site is similar to Twitter—if a magazine is being followed by a reader, content posted by the publication shows up in a consumer’s feed. When an individual chooses to follow a media brand, Coatney said, content is delivered directly to them which can then be re-Tumbled or posted on a user’s own Tumblr blog, which is then pushed to that user’s followers.
“With this format, you can talk as a peer to your readers,” he said. “That is a really core value that publishers don’t pay enough attention to—you need to be really engaged with your readers in a way that it’s a conversation among equals.”
While Tumblr can open up a dialogue between businesses and consumers, Coatney also told the FOLIO: Show audience that publishers can use Tumblr as a free CMS—he estimates that there are currently over 260 media outlets on Tumblr, with a large percentage being magazines. Publications generate followers that re-post content, which can drive traffic and expand brand awareness.
In addition to using Tumblr to interact and develop audiences and refer traffic, Coatney says the platform can be monetized to a publication’s advantage.
“The conventional way to monetize on Tumblr is to put ads on the front of your blog,” he said. “You can start to think of Tumblr posts as things your magazine can sell and circulate throughout Tumblr.”
A sponsored post that is re-Tumbled will be branded across the space and not just within a magazine’s Tumblr account—as more content is shared, the more exposure a publication’s brand and its advertisers receive.
“It can take something you’ve done and take it throughout the network and expand it throughout the world very quickly,” Coatney said. “It speaks to the core of Tumblr—it’s people sharing things they love. I think of magazines in that way too and you hear that from readers all the time—they love what you do. Tumblr is a way to cement those bonds with the people who love what you do and talk to them as equals and peers in that space.”