David Karp is not one you’d peg for a multimillionaire entrepreneur. As he sits on stage with a shaggy brown haircut, sporting simple jeans and top, he almost looks out of place.
However, this is Internet Week New York (IWNY) and the diverse crowd assembling at the IWNY headquarters is there to pay tribute to the latest prince of the Web, Tumblr’s founder, David Karp. In just a few years, Karp and his team have managed to transform how we share online. Frustrated with the blogging platforms available at the time, the young techie wanted to design an online space without the editorial slant, “What the product demanded I do was editorial. I’m not a writer.” The demand for a witty, editorial voice turned him off a bit and he soon was at work creating his own online platform.
The actual early stages of Tumblr represented a personal project. “It was very ambitious and selfish at the beginning. It was a tool for me.” It was David Karp’s contribution to the Web, on his own terms. In fact, the early Tumblr didn’t even have a following model until four or five evolutions into its lifespan. Now 75% of its traffic comes from users hitting refresh and people are taking note–even celebrities.
When it came time for Jay-Z and Beyonce to share photos of their first born child, they surprised the media and their fans by posting the first photos of baby Blue Ivy on Tumblr. This indicated a major shift in celebrity access and how artists choose to connect with the public.
The media noticed.
Karp did, too.
It turns out he was just as surprised as we were. “We were honored. It’s breathtaking to see people on that level using it (Tumblr) for that. It’s a perfect example of how artists are thinking about their work now.”
So how can we take advantage of this shift to a more intimate and accessible way to brand? Karp suggests:
- Showcase unique assets– Use historic images, old footage or unlikely influencers to tell the story of your brand.
- Make good creative use of ancillary content. It’s not just enough to post flat content online. Be thoughtful. Have a relatable story.
- Offer content in “addition to” standard/expected content. Media outlets like Newsweek and The New Yorker have separate, online destinations to engage consumers with the unexpected.
Karp has a special message to advertisers and marketers about the success of online tools like Tumblr, “It’s a media network that values great content.” Sometimes, it’s not all about the numbers, but the value.