Don Steele, Tumblr's new head of audiences development talks mobile audience engagement

Tumblr has been as important to television as the more often discussed Facebook and Twitter. Fan communities have flourished with shows like Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. Most recently Tumblr TV has made it easier to experience GIFs in a TV-like format.

Tumblr's lead TV partnerships person Sima Sistani recently left the company and joined Meerkat. In her absence Emilie Lara has continued pursuing important TV and media partnerships including a recent success with Entertainment Weekly at Comic-Con. Additionally Tumblr's expertise in television has grown even stronger with Don Steele joining the Yahoo-owned social platform.

Steele was most recently the SVP of Fan Engagement and Multi Platform Marketing at Viacom's Comedy Central. He is widely known in the industry and among his peers as an executive who could not only execute a digital campaign but also use the tools personally and genuinely.

While Steele won't be focused specifically on TV, Found Remote interviewed him to learn more about his plans for this new chapter of his career.

Why Steele took the position at Tumblr:

In regards to why Steele took the position he explained that, "one of the partnerships at Comedy Central that I was most proud of was the work that we did with Tumblr. The stuff we did for @midnight was very innovative and Comedy Central still has a very robust profile." He added that, "it's a place where the most passionate of fans share their experiences with people and when the opportunity came up to help expand that audience and connect those passionate fans it was a thrilling opportunity."

The mission to grow Tumblr's mobile footprint:

Steele told Found Remote that a big part of his role will be to expand Tumblr's Mobile audience. "Tumblr is at a great place where they want to expand the audience, expand it specifically in mobile," he explained. They brought him on so he can "take some of the expertise of having at a major media company and bring them to a platform."

Among many successes at Comedy Central was his work on the Comedy Central app. He's excited to take the learnings from that experience and bring them to Tumblr.

"One of the things I was very proud of was the launch of the Comedy Central app and how some of those ad products and programming on social can be used to help Tumblr expand its footprint," he explained. "A lot of the similar thoughts and philosophies are needed for Tumblr to continue to grow," he added.

Biggest challenges of Tumblr on mobile:

While Tumblr has performed extremely well on mobile, a next phase of its growth will for it to become us ubiquitous as your mail app, messaging app, or news app of choice.

"When you look Tumblr is constantly a top free app in a lot of the social networking [lists] in the Google and iTunes store," Steele told Found Remote. "Part of the next step is making sure that some of the passionate people who are the real creators are using the app and finding it and then taking some of the data based upon what people are doing on Tumblr so Tumblr becomes part of your consideration when you're checking your phone in the morning," he added.

A selection of Steele's Tumblr recommendations:

  • "I've always been a huge fan of the Men in Blazers television show and podcast Tumblr."
  • "I also think when you look at something like Kick TV as a YouTube channel, it's a soccer focused media company that uses Tumblr in a big way."
  • "Other entertainment companies The Criterion Collection, I've been a long time film fan, how they use Tumblr to tell the stories of the films they're releasing."
  • "I quite enjoy South Park Studios how they use it to promote various lines of business and a way to tell their brand story."
  • "The success of Dr. Who on Tumblr is fabulous and the people at BBC deserve a lot of credit."
  • "When you look at the partnership with AMC and some of stuff they've done with poster art and some of the things they've done with The Walking Dead and the new show."

You can access the Found Remote hub here.Sign up to receive The Drum's Found Remote newsletter.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.