Tip No. 5: Getting the most out of your spacesOn Fri, 13 July, 2012 - 23:45
We’ve been up and running for a month or so properly now and our To Do list is already as long as all our arms laid end to end! It’s amazing hearing feedback and people’s excitements and frustrations at what they can and can’t (yet) do on our new platform. We’re committed to developing the site in line with how it’s actually being used, and while we can’t match Facebook quite yet, there’s still a lot of very useful (not to mention cool) stuff you can do here that will help make the most of what’s already on offer while we dream up the next phases… So here’s a top 5:
1. Your ‘About’ Page: Right now we’ve kept ‘about’ pages simple. As you add more content over time, it might be a good idea for us to provide something more complex, but we think just now that simplicity is best while everyone gets their heads round the new paradigm. A good, clear, succinct message for your sangha is what it’s all about here. And you can change it easily and as often as you like! Why not think about refreshing a simple, bold list of every week’s/month’s events right there on the home page? Make each a link to a fuller event post (hint: to make an event post, click + blog and tick ‘Is this post about an event?’)
2. Use Pictures! We’re going to be developing image galleries on the site for Projects and Groups as we build up our own picture work here and elsewhere. But there are some basic things you can do right now to make sure your spaces have great pictures and galleries on them!
– Make sure you have a profile picture of your own, and that you have a picture for your Project or Group too! You’ve no idea how many folk don’t… :)
– Upload at least enough pictures to make a decent gallery on your home page. This is your chance to show pictures of the team (these get priority, so people can get an idea of who they will meet if they visit you!) and of the real-world space you have… Just click ‘edit project/group’ on your home pages to get started. Think about refreshing and adding to your home page gallery as you go. And, of course, upload other pictures regularly (+ image) to your Projects and Groups after events. It’s a great way to show off the best of your work and your community!
3. Get into video: We support two main video platforms at the moment: YouTube and Vimeo. Both are excellent and both are free, so what are you waiting for? :) We mainly use Vimeo internally, but we’d probably (if pushed) recommend YouTube for most individual Triratna Centres and Projects. It’s so ubiquitous, extremely easy to use and deeply well-supported by all sorts of devices, mobile apps and cameras. But whatever you choose, it’s very easy to post a video with us (+ video) and if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much better is video for just showing people who you are and what you do?
4. Sound off! The Triratna Buddhist Community is generally very good at sound! We have such a rich tradition of giving Dharma talks (warning, shameless plug coming up!). Three words: Free. Buddhist. Audio. As you may know, we support automatic importing of your local talk uploads to FBA, so if you don’t yet have an account with that darling little site, go on and info [at] freebuddhistaudio.com (subject: Sign%20me%20up!) (ask for one)!
Otherwise, merely clicking + talk anytime lets you post any individual talk from FBA just by pasting its link into the wee box! What could be simpler? Go on, educate your sangha with the best talks, your favourite talks, and anything new that catches your ear…
That said, there are two other ways to post audio to your Projects and Groups. And they’re both kind of delighful, and they’re both also free! Just click + resource and away you go…
Audioboo: We love Audioboo! It’s so good for short, sweet, utterly pleasing bits of audio that you can literally record and upload in minutes if you have access to a computer or a smartphone. And it brings to life an event or a community better than anything we know. So why not be bold and have a play! Get the local sangha using it and post their thoughts too. Give voice to your love of the Dharma life, and share it with the world! They even automatically turn it into a podcast for you and make it available on iTunes. E Ma Ho!
Soundcloud: Soundcloud is also free, though with free accounts you get a limited amount of storage for audio unless you pay for one of their many affordable plans. It’s also defintely worth playing with as it’s everywhere online these days and amongst the most popular social web tools around. And it is kind of fantastic! We recommend using it for presentations that are too long for the little-snippet beauties that are audioboos, and not really full talks for uploading to FBA. You know, less formal presentations, introductions to speakers, things you may do on local radio, musical evenings, or even lively discussions. Again, it just helps bring everything to life for anyone interacting with you on the web. And your Projects and Groups will look and sound great!
5. Use Groups to involve your sangha: This is an area that’s just getting started. As we may have mentioned before once or twice, there are lots of ways to engage your sangha right now in your spaces here and extend the work you already do week in, week out, trying to build relationships with people between Centre visits and giving them the support of a community of practice even when they are in very different conditions from the ones you offer at classes. We set Groups up in a particular way that means initially they require a little admin time. But for most contexts we think it’s worth the effort and what you’ll get back is a small, committed context of Dharmic engagement. Every kind of Triratna gathering, from Order Chapters to Study Groups to Public Preceptors, can benefit from these kinds of dedicated spaces where everyone who participates can post as equals.
And if you need a Group that’s likely to be too big to make it easy to manage membership, please do get in touch and we’ll help you set up something that’s a little more public…
And that’s it! That’s this week’s Top 5! As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts…