Signing up for Tumblr takes seconds and is free, so there’s no economic reason your nonprofit might resist learning the platform. As we introduced last week, Tumblr offers the opportunity to have a without needing to learn the tricky coding behind a traditional blog or website. Our excitement about this platform has inspired us to continue to try to inspire you to consider Tumblr for your organization’s outreach. Every software package has its quirks and features, but Tumblr really seems to offer a wide array of opportunities to use the skills you already have (proven by the fact you are reading this blog!) to present a professional, flexible, and elegant web-face to the world. Let’s set up our first post!
When you sign into your account, you go first to the Dashboard of your account. If you setting up more than one Tumblr site, they will be listed along the top. More likely for our readers, you’ll see your organization’s site on the upper right (see screenshot on the right). The Dashboard has its standard Tumblr theme, and the Dashboard is probably the handiest way to post materials, so don’t be confused by the look: The Dashboard is to load content, the theme/look/behavior can be controlled by the theme’s link.
As we discussed last week, the first decision is to pick a theme (between free and about $50). Each theme has its own feature set, so you might not get every operation with every theme. We based this series of screenshots and how-to’s on the urbane ‘Notations’ theme by Ben Delaney. We recommend exploring the options of your theme along the left column, (un)checking as you see fit for what your organization wants. If considering a ‘traditional’ site, consider adding your Pages first (Well, first you should have a site map drawn up based on the content you and your staff have drawn up!). Links will be made for you, even if the pages are initially empty. We find it much easier to proceed with those markers laid out first.
What is not so obvious is that you can test your theme(s) at will, but you must ‘install’ the theme to make it the look-of-choice to the outside world. Even once posted, you can change your organization’s theme, but it’s not a good idea as you will lose some critical continuity-of-branding momentum. Installation takes seconds, as the work is being done on the Tumblr servers.
Then it’s back to the Dashboard (where most of the work will be done going forward). To create that first post, pick where you want the emphasis to be. If it’s a long read (even with pictures), click “Text”. If you have a video shot with a smartphone or a multi-sensor professional camera, click “Video” and add text to introduce it. The buttons show which medium will have prime real estate on that particular post, but each allows the other media to be included.
Now add your charity’s relevant content for that post! Images can be added throughout a story about a recent fundraiser (+Upload Photo), a video of a community project can also have call-out quotes from participants, etc. To the right you’ll see some of the particulars of that post, and they are definitely worth paying some attention to. Start adding Tags with your first post of keywords that you and your colleagues will often be discussing on the blog. That way, as ever more readers are drawn to the site, they can click specific tags and catch up with the thread of discussion.
A handy little feature is the ability to ‘Highlight This Post’. The dropdown menu provides a long list of flags to grab your readers’ attentions towards particular posts. Don’t dilute the impact with overuse, though. Above the highlight menu in the screenshot on the left notice the ability to schedule the post. You can save the material as a Draft for later editing, or schedule a few posts over a longer period of time if that’s convenient.
Click on the ‘Create Post’ button on the lower left when it all gets set to your satisfaction, and away it goes into the Cyber Sea! The highlight/shout out will draw people to the particular announcement you just posted, but Tumblr includes other great and easy ways to reach ever-wider audiences. We’ll look at Tumblr’s connections to other social networks next week.