We have beenfor a few years and in the hopes of inspiring you and your colleagues to consider creation of a Tumblr presence for your nonprofit by sharing some insights we’ve gained on using this very popular social network.
Tumblr got going in 2007, and really took off a couple of years later as twenty-somethings found in the platform a sweet spot of posting stories longer than those allowed by Twitter but short and quick enough to make sharing a breeze. Since then, organizations − especially those who want to present a lighter and strikingly visual face to their followers − have also gotten on board. See, for examples, Doctors Without Borders and (whose Tumblr page is featured above). Both charities do critical work in the areas of health and economic support around the world, and yet their Tumblr sites put the visceral joy of such work front-and-center.
To develop your organization’s site, you might want to explore some of the more advanced features of Tumblr that offer all kinds of customization of look and behavior. We want to introduce a couple of those features here.
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Tumblr even offers an ‘Advanced’ set of tools that are not so tricky. You surely will want your tumblog optimized for mobile devices! Descriptive URLs can be handy for your followers, though tweets will have shortened URLs to save some of the 140 characters. You could even get your coding game on by tweaking some of the CSS code of your site, the one ‘Advanced’ feature that really is advanced. Cascading Style Sheets dictate the look of a site in terms of text wrap, fonts, and default image size. The advantage to CSS is that it applies site-wide definitions of these settings, but it is not for the faint hearted.
If you want to get down-and-dirty, a small but growing industry of plugins have been developed to offer means to control and/or post to your Tumblr site with greater ease than signing into your dashboard. One of our all-time favorites is Zemanta (which can be used on WordPress and Drupal as well). Zemanta is, in fact, a plug in for your browser, but it shows up in your blog with suggested links, related stories, and potential tags for your story. It can save hours a week on finding useful links and images for your stories (see screenshot to the left).
Another one fairly new to the scene is, which allows you to monitor up to five social networks via an interface that behaves rather like the email program you probably are already using in the office (think Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook with an Inbox and ‘mailbox’ lists for each of your nonprofit’s social networking platforms). Postling requires registration for $1 and runs you $5 a month, but its features and organizational ease look like one of the best $60 you could invest over the next year. Better still, Postling demands no long-term contract, so you can try it for 1 month or 5.
Finally, not so much a plugin as a website/service is TumblrStats.com. Tumblrstats, like the Google of yesteryear, offers a wonderfully simply interface and service: type in the name of your blog at the site, wait about 15 seconds, and you get a really useful number crunch of statistics relevant to your Tumblr blog. It’s free and there for your using when you want it − so set a reminder on your nonprofit’s calendar to check Tumblrstats every month or so.
None of these advanced features would tax a fairly experienced blogger, so check them out to see what is useful for your organization. Of course, content is king, and what people really want from your blog are not bells and whistles but meaningful and engaging information. Se we will be talking about that issue next week.