Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Genealogists Can Use Social Media

Social media is such a big word in our culture. It's become a way for news to be shared, families to keep in touch and companies to market their goods and services. The possibilities are endless!

So can family historians get in on this action? Is there any benefit to using Facebook, Twitter or Google +?

The simple answer is...YES!

Social media allows you to make connections. With Twitter and Facebook you have an opportunity to not only meet and connect with like-minded individuals, but distant cousins and professionals you wouldn't have been able to meet otherwise.

Twitter and Facebook can seem overwhelming. It's a 24/7 live stream of conscience thought and advertisements. If you let it, it can consume an enormous amount of time.

Here's what I recommend:

1) Have a goal in mind before logging on. Having a purpose or goal for your visit will help keep you focused instead of getting caught up in all the feeds and posts just to come away from your computer forgetting why you logged on in the first place.

2) Give yourself a time limit. Whether it's 10 minutes or an hour and stick to it. Log off when you've hit your limit.

3) Keep each account focused. I have a personal twitter feed and a twitter account for AncestryChick. This way I can follow the appropriate people and not mix the two. This also helps to have the appropriate people following me. If I mixed them all together those who are following me would become frustrated by my jumble of tweets and posts. I wouldn't post ancestry/genealogy information to those who are following me personally or about writing and vice versa. Facebook allows you to have a personal page and a public page, which I suggest utilizing. My personal page is for friends and family and my public page is for AncestryChick. This is where I post about my blog updates or information about genealogy related stuff.

4) Connect and Engage. This is important! Ask questions. Tell others what you are looking for. Hit a wall in your research? Put it out there and see if anyone can help. Comment on blog posts, Facebook posts and twitter feeds. Just like any other relationship you must do your part and be present and engaged.

I've found Social Media to be a great addition to my genealogy research. I've been able to connect with distant cousins, learn about conferences and online webinars, and read get answers to my research questions. If you haven't tried it yet, I would highly recommend it.

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