Social media sites are great resources for your research. While other methods for research have been around longer, and are thus “tried and true,” social media is a good resource to try when your research becomes stale. Here is a brief overview of several social networking sites and how you can use them for family history research.
The most common social network is, of course, Facebook. People from all generations are connected on the site. Not only can you share personal information or questions with the people you have “friended” on Facebook, you can also share interesting articles, blogs, or other web pages on your profile. If you discover an important article about an ancestor’s hometown, you can share it on Facebook so other people can learn about it, too.
Facebook is also a great resource for connecting with relatives in a secure way. You can choose your privacy settings for your profile, and you can send messages to people privately on Facebook without giving out your email address. By searching for friends and family members to connect with, you’ll be sure to make important contacts that will help further your genealogy research.
Twitter is more about the message you want to get out than it is about friendships. “Tweeting” is roughly the same thing as posting a basic status update on Facebook. You can “follow” friends, family members, celebrities, institutions, corporations, clubs, etc. FHnotebook has a twitter account you can follow, as do great resources like FamilySearch and Geneabloggers.
Why is Twitter a great resource? Because you aren’t limited in what information you can access. You can read tweets from anybody, even if you don’t follow them. You can also gather information by what is “trending,” or topics many people are writing about and using the # sign to highlight. For example, trending right now on Twitter is the hashtag #1940census. You can search for that hashtag and view the tweets from people around the world who mention the upcoming 1940 census. You can also tweet your own brief message about the census and add the hashtag, and people around the world can read it. Twitter is a great way to share nuggets of information.
Pinterest is a social bulletin board. You can create your own bulletin boards and pin the pictures you want on it, and then other people can see those pictures. By sharing photos of your ancestors, you could get answers to questions you may have about the people in the photos, the locations, and the setting. You can also help others connect the dots for their images.
Google+ is another social networking site that is still growing. It is similar to Facebook, but with clear distinctions as well. There are others, as well. Try using a new social networking site to see if you can glean important information for your research—family history work is something people around the world are constantly working on, so connecting with them can only help.
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