David Karp - Creative Genius

It’s all too appropriate that Tumblr—the hugely popular blogging site where so many creative types are congregating these days—had a featured session at the 2013 Cannes Lions, the festival for creativity. But if its position in the social-media landscape wasn’t enough, then Tumblr’s recent role in the news provided added weight. Recall, just a month or so ago, Yahoo  spent a $1.1 billion to buy the site.

David Karp, Tumblr’s founder, is oft-spoken yet passionate. Smart yet funny. And he is a believer. After all, he built Tumblr as a platform that could be the home for all sorts of media and creativity. With Tumble, there’s no longer a need for videos to be parked over on YouTube, or images on Flickr, or words on WordPress. Tumblr is the place for all this media. One ring to bind them all.

The platform has grown to 300 million members. There are 115 million Tumblrs  and 50 billion posts. Trends begin on Tumblr.

Karp shared his own experience as a creator before a  packed Palais at Cannes Lions. Included in his talk were six 6 Do’s and Don’ts for brands using Tumblr. They are:

Build Beautiful Bright Spots
Carr said Great creators have demonstrated that they can do something beautiful on Tumblr. Their work subsequently attracted others.  Carr said the advertising industry could use Tumblr in a similar “if-you-create-it-they-will-come” manner. In marketing and communications industry dominated by a relentless focus on huge reach and mass adoption, advertisers can use Tumblr to enhance their brands and expect that their Tumblr following will grow.

Cultivate a Culture of Storytelling
Tumblr users are trying to tell stories, and draw people who will experience those stories. Carr said that brands should use the platform to tell stories that inspire people to become your customer. “Share what you believe in,” he told the audience.  “There’s always an authentic story there.” He pointed to a campaign by the Lincoln Motor Company that told a very “now” story using Cinemagraphs and featured visually beautiful, poetic imagery.

Publish What You Love
Rather than a place to meet your friends, Tumblr is a network that allows people to discover the things they care most about. As such, Carr advised session attendees that when it comes to Tumblr content think in terms of what would bring value to your readers.

Don’t Build a “Brand Presence”
The Hunger Games marketers created a Tumblr, but not to promote the  movie but rather to promote Capitol Couture, a fashion line from the film. Carr said such content was perfectly suited for the fashion crowd already on Tumblr. Using that example, Carr suggested that the best approach to building connections with customers is creating some type of brand experience native to Tumblr.. “So much of the Internet has been squeezing [ad creative] down into little blue links,” Carr explained.  Tumblr, he added, provides a better and bigger canvas.

Don’t Worry About Permanence
Carr said there is too much pressure sometimes for marketers to be “always on.” The common wisdom when it comes to brand blogs is to not start one unless you are prepared to do endless updates. Such commitment is  not necessary in Tumblr. Sure, Carr, said, it’s a great place for an enduring story space, but short-lived efforts do well, also. He pointed to Old Spice’s Mr. Wolf Dog campaign as an example.

You Don’t Need An Army
When creating a Tumblr, Carr said there’s no need to assemble the entourage that shoots TV spots or that builds cathedral-sized Web sites. Instead, keep the team small and simple. He suggested that a scan of the most beautiful Tumblrs—even those from brands—reveals that they are often quite simple.

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