A blog can be a powerful tool in the marketing strategy of businesses both small and large, and that business blog needs an online home. But where? WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging and website building in the world—and Tumblr has been called its most serious competitor. These two platforms offer a way for businesses of all kinds to expand brand awareness and connect with current and new customers and clients. For users looking for a complete content management system with the flexibility to meet a company’s changing needs, WordPress wins, hands down.
But these two platforms are really very different systems, designed for different needs—and while WordPress outstrips Tumblr for business users in terms of features, functions, and flexibility, it’s possible to use both these platforms to spread your company’s message even farther. Here’s a look at the Tumblr and WordPress platforms and the role they can play in any business marketing efforts.
Choosing a Platform for Your Business Blog
Business and online marketing experts consistently advise business owners to add blogging to their repertoire of content marketing tools. Regular posting to a searchable, visible blog can help to establish a company as an authority in the field, keep up connections with customers by answering questions and offering valuable information, and build brand awareness with potential customers through social media sharing and organic searches.
Building a blog can take time and require some expertise, though—and a variety of third-party platforms like Tumblr offer simple set-up and editing tools to make that process quick and easy. But the low maintenance simplicity of these platforms comes at a cost. Users are at the mercy of the host—if that host opts to close down the site or suspend a user’s account, it could destroy a company’s presence on the web.
For some businesses, a flourishing blog on a hosted site is all the web presence they need—at least for now. But for users who want to be able to build new functions into their company’s site and customize it as needed to accommodate new growth and new directions, a “full service,” self-hosted content management system like WordPress offers the tools and features to build a more complex site around the blog—and keep full control of all its content, regardless of where it’s hosted.
Tumblr: Blogging Made Simple
In 2016, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg claimed that Tumblr is the most serious competitor WordPress has encountered. Created in 2007 and bought out by Yahoo in 2013, Tumblr is a combination blogging site and social network. And, though its name might not be as familiar as Facebook or Twitter, it has more than 790 million users worldwide—twice as many as Twitter itself.
Tumblr is aimed at bloggers, and it’s designed for sharing short content of all kinds, including text, images, and multimedia. Basic Tumblr is free, but users can pay for additional features such as a custom domain or premium themes. Once you set up a primary blog on Tumblr, you can add multiple secondary blogs on the same account. Users can reblog, or share, content from other Tumblr blogs, follow other users, and comment and ask questions on other blogs, which adds social media functionality right inside Tumblr.
Tumblr is a hosted site, which means that users who create a Tumblr account are “renting” space on Tumblr’s servers in order to create an online presence. But that also means content posted to Tumblr is subject to the site’s terms and conditions—and it can disappear at any moment if, for example, Tumblr decides to suspend a user’s account or Tumblr itself closes up shop.
Tumblr offers a fairly extensive gallery of both free and paid themes, but users are limited to those options unless they know enough code to make changes to their blog’s existing theme. Likewise, Tumblr users can’t expand the functions of their Tumblr sites beyond the features already built into Tumblr.
To avoid the default URL with a “tumblr.com” extension, Tumblr users can add a custom domain for business branding purposes and consistency across the internet, and Tumblr can also be integrated for cross-posting from other sites—including WordPress.
WordPress: Blogging and More
In order to compare WordPress and Tumblr, it’s important to make a distinction between the two available versions of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a hosted version of the free, open source site building software WordPress. Because WordPress.com is a hosted site, it shares a number of features with Tumblr—including the limitations of a hosted site.
WordPress.org is the source for the WordPress code itself, which can be downloaded and used for free by anyone, anywhere. That’s why this version of WordPress is called “self-hosted”—users can install it on virtually any web hosting platform and customize it any way they wish. The content on a WordPress powered site is exclusively the property of the site owner, and users can access thousands of themes and plugins from the official WordPress directories and third-party developers to extend the features of the core code to create sites of all kinds.
Although WordPress itself is free to download and use, the self-hosted version requires purchasing a domain name and setting up hosting with a reputable provider. But once that’s done, all the features of WordPress are available for users of all skill levels. Each new WordPress install comes with access to the official WordPress theme and plugin directories, with thousands of options for customizing the look and functions of a WordPress site to create not only blogging sites, but also online stores, magazines, membership sites, and more.
Unlike Tumblr, though, WordPress installs don’t come with a built-in social community for sharing and commenting internally, so that WordPress users must develop their own social media connections independently. But with a multitude of social media sharing plugins and commenting options, WordPress allows users to connect as many social sites as they like to any WordPress site.
WordPress vs. Tumblr—or Both?
WordPress and Tumblr both provide blogging tools that are easy to set up and use, along with a number of other overlapping features that can help businesses build an online presence.
But if you must make a choice between Tumblr and WordPress for an efficient and versatile content management tool for your business, self-hosted WordPress is the clear winner, with a nearly endless array of customizing options and complete user control of a site and its contents.
But it’s worth remembering too that it’s possible to use a Tumblr site along with your main WordPress site to attract Tumblr’s young, image-oriented audience. Major brands like IBM, Sony, Amazon, and even Google have used Tumblr to expand their reach and post content that might not work as well on their main sites. And because you can cross-post content from WordPress to Tumblr with a WordPress Tumblr plugin, it’s possible to get the benefits of both Tumblr’s microblogging network alongside the full-featured WordPress content management system to boost your business profile even more.