Wanderers, we have previously discussed social networking with people you’re a fan of. This time around, we’re going to think about another aspect of social networking – interacting with people who are also fans of people or things you’re a fan of. Or in other words – how to find someone to squee with.
The social side of fandom is all over the internet – from Twitter and Facebook to FanFiction.net and Deviantart. The thing is, Wanderers, most fans will at some point find something which redirects to Tumblr, and engaging with people on Tumblr is simultaneously easy and the scariest thing in the world – even setting up a Tumblr can be intimidating. Things I’ve heard before: “but everyone already knows each other, how would I fit in?” “No one seems very friendly, they all seem to be arguing all the time, and I find that stressful. How can I cope with that?” Now, I don’t promise to be the fount of all knowledge, but here’s a few things I’ve picked up on over my few years wandering the halls of Tumblr:
- Take a deep breath, and take the plunge. Setting up a Tumblr couldn’t be easier – to begin with you don’t even need to find someone to follow, which gives you plenty of scope to explore once you’re all set up. To begin, all you need is a vague idea of a URL, an email address, and a password. Often times you’ll find your first preferred URL has already been snaffled by some other eagle-eyed fan (Tip: could they be someone to follow? Check out their blog! After all, you already know their URL). Finding a decent URL which isn’t full of numbers or dashes can take some time. Those URL generators aren’t all bad, and sometimes they churn out unique URLs which no one else has come up with yet.
- Search, search, search. Now you have your blog, your almost-but-not-quite-ideal URL, and may have begun sorting out your theme and avatar image – but your dashboard is distressingly empty. Now is the time to make the most of the ‘search’ function – simply type in your fandom/ship and before your eyes will appear something not unlike the TARDIS, a world of pure imagination (cough cough) filled with other people who are also crazy over the character development of Sherlock or hate the way Star Trek was whitewashed.
- Be fussy. Once you’ve found your treasure-trove of like-minded fans, scout around. Since you’re on Tumblr, browse their blogs a bit – do they regularly post things you’d find triggering and/or annoying? No matter how dedicated a fan they are, there’s no point following them if the majority of the time you’re wishing you weren’t following them. Tumblr Saviour and Blacklist in Xkit can be real life-savers when it comes to triggers, but if you’re blocking the majority of someone’s content, then it’s possibly not the most efficient method.
- Engage, engage, engage. This tip is somewhat similar to another of our previous articles, so I’m going to direct you there, and just add a smidgeon of my own advice – never be afraid to send an ask. On Tumblr, you get the impression that only if you’re Tumblr famous does anyone listen to you. Quite the opposite is true, my friends. Get involved in a discussion which is raging across your dash, let your opinion be heard, and you might just find that you gain followers who share your opinion on Snape’s questionable heroism, or how well Tim Curry wears fishnets.
- Don’t focus on your follower count. What matters on Tumblr isn’t how many people follow you – for all you know you’re reaching far more people through tagging your posts than just those who follow you. You might notice that every now and again one of your posts really takes off – and that’s probably not down to your followers, it’s probably down to people who came across it in the tags and liked it.
- Try not to get involved in the negative side of Tumblr. Sad but true, wherever millions of people gather to blog (and given that an estimated 30-50 million people visit their Tumblr dashboard at least once a month, it is literally millions of people), negativity will soon invade, and trolling is sometimes hard to get past. However, the positive side to being a relative unknown on Tumblr is an immunity to the trolls. If you find that the social justice side of Tumblr is bringing you down, unfollow the people who are filling your dash, and focus on the fandom side of things. If the arguments between specific blogs are beginning to grate – no matter if they’re fandom related or not – the unfollow button is your best friend. Never be afraid to unfollow, Wanderers. Do whatever you need to in order to make your dashboard as friendly to you as you need it to be. That said…
- Don’t be afraid to separate. Personally, I currently have eight blogs on Tumblr, all on one account. The beauty of Tumblr is having the ability to set up ‘secondary blogs’ associated with one ‘primary blog’ and one account. This allows you to keep personal things away from fandom, original writing away from reblogs, and so on and so forth. Of course you can link between blogs, but it is a good way of not filling your follower’s dashboards with writing hints and tips when what they really want to see is your Torchwood edits.
Hannah Carter (learned most of these the hard way)