Obama hosted his first Tumblr Q&A; should you?

The president introduced and explained a program that will ease the burden of student loan debts. So, how can you use this versatile platform to promote your brand?

World leaders are going social. That has been made even more evident by President Obama’s first Tumblr question-and-answer session on Tuesday.

The question is: What does this mean for your business?

Maybe you should consider following in the president’s footsteps. Check out this information relating to the event, along with takeaways for your business:

The news

Obama held a press conference to announce and discuss an expansion relating to the government’s “Pay As You Earn” student loan repayment program. The program limits the monthly payment amount of recent grads to 10 percent of their discretionary income.

The new guidelines are designed in such a way that now most individuals with student loans will qualify for potentially reduced payments. Because college tuition rates have tripled in the last few decades, and the average student debt following graduation is nearly $30,000, this is important.

It has also raised many questions for future students, current students, parents of students, and individuals still paying off student loans. Instead of hosting another press conference, the president announced that he would make himself available to the masses by hosting a Q&A session on Tumblr, entitled #ObamaIRL.

The result of Tuesday’s Q&A was that it went over quite well, with the president responding to questions ranging in everything from transgender students to successful dropouts like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

A White House official couldn’t have said it better: “Community Q&As like this allow us to reach large, engaged audiences around specific issues they care about and Tumblr’s demographics make it a great place to reach younger Americans.”

This could be said for some businesses too. So, is Tumblr right for you?

Tumblr: The basics

With more than 190 million blogs containing more than 83.1 billion posts, Tumblr is a social sharing and microblogging network that allows users to share anything. This encompasses “text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos,” from anywhere, including “your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be,” according to the network.

Because more than 40 percent of Tumblr’s users fall into the 18-to-34 age range, the network is particularly effective for reaching out and connecting with the young adult demographic.

Following in the president’s footsteps

You’ve probably already started working on a solid social presence for your brand. Network giants like Twitter and Facebook are probably at the top of your priority list. However, these networks are limited when it comes to live-streaming events. For this reason, you may have not even considered something like a live Q&A session—apart from standard Twitter chats or other text-based conversations. Now could be the time to change.

Yes, text-based conversations help you to connect with your community, but today’s young adults-like those found on Tumblr-are looking for more. They want to hear a voice and have a face to put to a name. They want more than a logo or a photo as far as connections are concerned.

This is why Tumblr has been such a success. A few statistics cement this idea:

  • The average Tumblr visit lasts 14 minutes longer than a visit to Facebook or Twitter—that’s a lot more time to engage.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Tumblr users have a college education—this means brands can market to and engage in an educated user base seeking more than fluff. If you’re looking to share information relating to a pharmaceutical water system, a standard infographic might not be enough. This audience wants the opportunity to ask questions, not to be fed pre-generated information.
  • Over the past year, the network has grown by 74 percent. This is one of the highest growth rates among all social networks, which presents an excellent opportunity to get in during the rush.

Tumblr is a mainstream part of social media activity. The time for brands to begin to engage in a real-time, effective manner is now. Obama’s latest initiative is further proof that traditional social networking may be a thing of the past. For real engagement, Tumblr (and a creative PR team) should be a priority.


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