Recently Redbrick Paper attained a Tumblr account and it made me wonder how it can be used most effectively as a platform for journalists and for newspapers. I have personally used Tumblr as a personal blog, essentially as an online scrapbook, and was yet to engage with the professional side to it.
What I think is great about Tumblr are the following points:
A) There is an easily accessible and large community of users. For instance, it is very easy to search through ‘tags’. You can even save certain topics if you want to keep looking back. This can be useful for journalists trying to find a story and for papers creating live-feeds for events, something that Redbrick excelled at in the Birmingham Riots.
This community is also aided by the ability to create question posts that can be replied to by anybody. I think the way journalism is going user generated content is just as important as content from the journalists themselves. The online side relies on user involvement and Tumblr provides a solid platform to aid this.
B) Tumblr is visually pleasing. Some of the themes, even the free ones, hardly need tweaking. This allows people to immediately post great content and get involved.
C) It is easier to create small overviews frequently. In this sense it can act similarly to Twitter. Twitter has proved popular because it is accepted for someone to tweet frequently, something I have found to be frowned upon on Facebook. OK granted, this is a simple separation of the two social media sites but I believe it is important. Twitter limits itself to 140 characters a tweet yet you are not limited to how many tweets that you post (unless you are very excessive). So, the formula of ‘short and sweet’ has proved popular. Tumblr takes this success and modifies it into a blogging platform.
Have a look at The National Post’s Tumblr by clicking here. They use it brilliantly and make use of all the features that I have mentioned – tags, short overviews, and visual elements. Here is an example below of an infographic being used alongside tags and a short description.
This is also what ShortFormBlog are doing fantastically. Their tag line: ‘Read a little, learn a lot’ embodies the principle of ‘short overviews’. People are looking for information quickly but still getting that informative edge.
Interestingly what they have here that the National Post lack is an integration with other social networks, essentially the commonly found ‘Share’ buttons. This encourages more user involvement.
What I saw especially in these two Tumblr accounts were methods to use the blog as a tool for creating more engagement. An example that I am sure Redbrick will follow!
So what do you think Tumblr can do to help journalism?