Social Media Best Practices: How Walgreens Uses Tumblr

By NativeAI / September 14, 2015
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Tumblr can be a difficult platform for content marketers to wrap their heads around. Sometimes it feels like a social media Frankenstein, combining the best, and worst, elements of other networks.

Like Twitter it has a time-based rolling feed, like Instagram it’s well suited for images and short videos, and like Facebook it allows for easy liking and sharing.  

So how should you program for it?

A great place to look for inspiration is Walgreens’ Tumblr, or more accurately, Walgreens’ three Tumblogs: Smile, Stay Well, and Be Beautiful.

The company has been on the platform for less than a year, but has already figured out the perfect mix of content. Its posts are ideal for Tumblr – short, visually striking, and engaging – ranging from image-based makeup tutorials and animated health GIFs to entertaining little back-to-school videos.

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Recently we sat down with Adam Kmiec, Walgreens Senior Director of Mobile, Social, Content, and Performance Marketing, to better understand how the company approaches Tumblr, and to find out if he has any advice for other brands looking to succeed on the platform. 

Check it out:

 Q: Can you talk about how you approach Tumblr? Why did you decide to focus on it
this year?

A: We try to match our customers’ interests to where we know she is going to be looking for inspiration; that’s how we determine which social platforms makes sense to tackle.

We were one of the first retailers in Facebook and on Twitter; we later added Instagram, Pinterest and now Tumblr – our most recent addition. We chose to dive into Tumblr this year because it gives us the ability to tell compelling stories in a fresh way and deliver rich content to our customers.  

Q: Why create a Tumblr over a blog?

A: When it comes to content, you always want to think about removing friction. Because our customers are already on Tumblr, and on Yahoo, it makes it easier to reach them by posting directly to the platform. Our customers are already looking for content, they are already looking for inspiration, so it makes it so much easier for them if we go to where they are.

The reality is that if what you want to deliver is a fantastic experience that’s memorable you have to invest in platforms your customers are already interested in.

Q: You’ve divided your Tumblr presence into three separate Tumblogs: Smile, Stay
, and Be Beautiful. Why did you take that approach?

walgreens on tumblr

A: The first thing we do when we decide to invest in a platform is to try to understand how our customers are using it. Each network is different, people engage with content in different ways on Facebook and Twitter, for example. 

One of the key underpinnings of how customers act on Tumblr is that they subscribe to specific Tumblogs. If we had combined all three of our areas into one it would have meant that someone who was interested in health content would also be getting beauty content, and so

By having everything come together on, but providing three different Tumblogs, we allow customers to choose exactly what they want to subscribe to.

Q: Is that how you program for other social networks or is it specific to Tumblr?

A: On each social channel we definitely think about beauty, health, and happiness, but the approach in the way that we deliver content around those things is very unique to the platform. For example, check out how we program beauty content on Pinterest
compared with on Tumblr.  


You’ll notice some similarities but also some differences. On Tumblr, for example, we can promote a specific image as part of the longer story. On a platform like Pinterest the image is the entire story.  

Q: Are you creating content from scratch specifically for Tumblr or are you republishing from other channels?

A: As someone who has been in the Internet space since 1997 I’m continually delighted and surprised by how much content consumers – myself included – want to absorb every single day. That’s little bit of dilemma for marketers because we want to be able to create enough content and we need to do it fast.

One way you might approach this would be to copy-and-paste; to take the same content you are using in one channel and put it in another. But that’s not always the best customer experience, and customer experience is what we’re always focused on here.

What you need is a very different way to think about content. One way is to think about the journey of a movie; it starts off full-length then is cut down to a three-minute version for a
trailer, then a 30-second commercial on TV, then a movie poster, then a Facebook post, and so on.  

We took that movie approach and baked it into the DNA of how we think about our content strategy.  We start with what’s called a content pack, which is always tied to a story.

The content pack becomes all the different ways to tell that story across all the different channels. That might mean email, a mobile app, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and so forth.

What it means internally is that instead of having multiple different bricks, multiple different projects trying to attack and solve the same customer story or tension point, we are thinking
about how the customer is going to absorb our content across all those different networks.  

When we are developing content we are looking at it on very long whiteboard all at once. It allows us to say we need this version of the image on Tumblr, and we need to talk about it this way on Pinterest, and it needs to be a little different on Facebook.  

So, we definitely develop content specific for Tumblr but it’s never done as if the Tumblr alone drives the strategy. We want to make sure we understand all different touch-points our customers are going to engage with us on.


Q: Finally, any advice for other brands looking to succeed on Tumblr? 

A: Be helpful.

I know that sounds overly simple, but if you think about it, great content is content that you get at the right time, in the right place, in the right way.

When we build our content packs and decide how to tell a story, it always comes back to the unmet need of the customer.

Written by NativeAI / September 14, 2015