We’re just a couple weeks into 2012, and it’s already been a big year for up-and-coming social network/microblog/lifecasting/whatevers Tumblr and Pinterest.

There’s no question that these two websites are growing in popularity. But are they worth incorporating into to your 2012 digital marketing strategy? We’re taking a look at the numbers and analyzing value for marketers.

What are Tumblr and Pinterest, anyway?

social media, tumblr, pinterestTumblr is an inherently social blogging platform that lends itself to multimedia and quick, easy sharing. According to ComScore, Tumblr is the second fastest growing social network in the world, and saw a 172% increase in audience between October 2010 and October 2011. That’s some serious growth. For more on the advantages and disadvantages of Tumblr from a marketing perspective take a look at Brand Engagement With Tumblr.

social media, tumblr, pinterestPinterest has generated a consistent hum from the online marketing community in recent months. It’s a virtual pinboard that lets users save the cool things they find across the internet by “pinning” them. The social component comes from the ability to share your own finds and follow pinboards created by other people. Popular themes are fashion, recipes and wedding planning, but there’s really no limit to the obscurity of interests on Pinterest.

Can they compete with Facebook?

The chart below shows that as far as unique visitors go, Facebook is still leading the social pack by a longshot. No other social network comes close to Facebook’s 166 million unique monthly visitors; in fact Facebook garners nearly four times the number of visitors that Twitter or LinkedIn see.

social media, tumblr, pinterest

Time is a valuable asset

Budding social networks Tumblr and Pinterest offer decently sized audiences, but the real impact is the average time that users spend on these sites. No one can compete with Facebook’s average of 394 minutes on sites, but the newcomers are calling serious attention as users devote more and more time to these sites. As shown on the chart above, the average time spent on Tumblr is 141.7 minutes and the average time on Pinterest is 88.3 minutes, which is significantly more than time spent on veteran social sites like Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tumblr and Pinterest may present opportunities to show off products, services and (perhaps most relevant to the social web) culture and thought leadership. Partnering with popular Pinterest board owners may be advantageous for retailers looking to cash in on the flood of visitors and introduce noteworthy design-oriented products.

Does my brand need Tumblr and Pinterest presence?

Like most social media tactics it’s a question of value. Can your brand provide something noteworthy or interesting to a niche group of social networkers (see this article for Tumblr’s demographic breakdown)? Do you have a story to tell that’s unique and highly visual?

And more importantly, do you have the time and staffing support to consistently engage on these platforms?

If in doubt, give it a test and see what you can do with these popular underdog social media platforms.

Does your brand use Tumblr or Pinterest? We’re interested to hear your results. Share in the comments section below or by connecting with us on Twitter.