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When you think of Tumblr, you probably think of edgy creative images and striking visuals. You probably don’t think about your bank. 

But at first direct, we’re just about to launch a new Tumblr channel to showcase ourselves in a slightly different space, a space which is not particularly a ‘bank space’, a space which is unexpected.

An ever evolving social media presence 

Our relationship with social media began almost six years ago (we dived into Twitter in 2009) and we’ve used it ever since to tell the story of who we are and what we value. 

first direct first tweet 

Social media has become an essential tool for shaping our relationship with customers and we use it in a way that feels natural to them.

After all, if they are willing to give up their time to listen to our story, it seems only fair that we bring it to them in a medium that suits them best. 

For instance, we were one of the first brands to use Twitter as an exclusive social media channel for our customer service, rather than use it just as a marketing tool. Meanwhile our Facebook page gives us as an opportunity to illustrate to customers what we stand for beyond just banking.

first direct help first tweet 

We’ve even run research programmes to help us understand the different types of social media users, and how they digest and consume different platforms. 

And we were the first bank to launch a social media newsroom, a digital tool to make news releases easily digestible for modern journalists, with accompanying videos, photos and social media links.

We were telling our story in such a way that journalists were happy to listen. Very few, if any, businesses were doing that in 2009 when we launched that platform.

first direct newsroom

In summary, we’re constantly evaluating where our social future lies and we have decided to take that step once more, adding a Tumblr channel to our repertoire. 

Giving back to our home city

Just over a year ago we decided to sponsor the new arena in Leeds (something else nobody expected!), simply because we wanted to give back to our home city that had given us so much over the years. 

The arena was a way for us to say thank you, and in a way that’s what our Tumblr platform was born from, a desire to communicate our passions and inspiration as a brand to our customers. Tumblr allows us to do just that, in a very visual way. 

We will officially launch the channel with a competition to redesign the bar within the first direct arena, with the channel becoming an online mood board to provide inspiration for those who want to take part.

We’ll post unexpected images, show unexpected things, things which are a bit different and visual. And we’ll ask people to upload their own images of Leeds and the things that inspire them about our city.

After using it for the redesign competition, we’ll use Tumblr as a platform to share things that inspire and really showcase our unexpected story. We’ll highlight the things that makes us different, and create a window into our business. 

We have a lot of fun at first direct, it makes us better so we can help our customers, and it’s that side you’ll see through our Tumblr channel. 

Believe it or not, we aren’t the only financial services brand to have ventured into the realm of Tumblr. 

Other brands that Tumblr rather well

Instagram

Instagram Business Tumblr

Instagram’s corporate blog is hosted through Tumblr. The blog features interesting Instagram projects, such as the Weekend Hashtag Project, competitions, and news from around the world told in images.

Instagram is not only king of its own content, the company has truly mastered the art of Tumblr.   

Yahoo

Yahoo Finance Tumblr

You can understand Yahoo being on Tumblr on one hand (the search engine bought it in May 2013 and has since boosted its users by 22%), however it’s a move that could drive traffic away from its own finance site.

That being said, Yahoo updates Tumblr constantly with its latest news stories portrayed in a very visual and digestible way. 

IBM Smarter planet

IBM Smarter planet Tumblr

IBM’s Smarter Planet Tumblr is full of content that shows readers how technology and innovation can, simply put, change the world. Fun facts, videos, graphics…

A great example of how businesses can use the Tumblr platform to inspire change.  

The Economist

Economist Tumblr

The Economist uses Tumblr to promote and tease upcoming editions. All content on the publication’s Tumblr is short, snappy and shareable (think charts, videos, cartoons, covers and quotes).  

So, as you can see, we can't take credit for being the first financial service brand on Tumblr, as many have been there before us, but we felt that right now was the right time for us to tell this 'unexpected' part of our story. 

Lisa Wood

Published 6 June, 2014 by Lisa Wood

Lisa Wood is Head of Marketing at first direct and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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