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Old and new media wanting to get onto Tumblr: Just follow these simple steps, and you can help prevent the development of a how-to-use-Tumblr consulting industry (like the one that plagues Twitter) before it starts.
(See also the somewhat different — but compatible — list of five keys to Tumblr by Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic.)
1. Pick someone from your staff, do not hire an outsider to do your Tumblr. The Tumblr needs to reflect the editorial zeitgeist of your publication and give your followers the sense that they are really connecting to it.
2. Engage your audience; social media is two-way. Follow intelligently, cultivate replies, learn to use interactive features (reblogs, likes, replies, photo replies, ask, Disqus comments) to build discussion around your content. Embrace the culture, too; don’t be afraid to use Blingee and Meme Generator for occasional humor.
3. Curate with your audience in mind. Think of which stories are most Tumblr-friendly and get them up in a timely fashion. (Politico: you should be Tumbling the story about how political consultants use Google searches instead of “headline numbers” like unemployment to predict voters’ economic mood.)
4. Vary your formats. Use multi-media features; post videos, audio clips, relevant songs, animated gifs, etc. Make it eye-catching; a photo post stands out (and also prevents your content from being automatically truncated upon being reblogged). Above all, don’t automatically feed all your headlines into Tumblr. (But don’t insert photos into text posts; they display as small ugly boxes on the dashboard.)
5. Maximize opportunities to drive readers to your site, making sure to link your excerpts to full stories, and make sure all your photos click through to the full story on your site. It’s fine to put more than one link back to your site (e.g., in the headline or photo, and then under “More…”).
And that’s it. Find someone on your staff, maybe an enterprising editorial assistant who gets the platform, and give them these simple rules and you’ll never need to hire a Tumblr consultant. xxPeterFeld