Top 10 Social Media Sites for Family Historians – Revised 2014

I think that social media was made for family historians. We are different from other people – we actually enjoy finding distant relatives and keeping in touch with them! Social media helps us to find relatives and old friends in ways that were not possible in the days of mailing lists and message boards.

CarolesCanvasThe first time I said that was more than four years ago, in this post. Four years is a long time on the internet, and things have changed. Some of these sites have fallen off my radar so it’s time for a revision. The image shows the cover of the first edition of my book Social Media for Family Historians with screenshots of my blog Carole’s Canvas, Youtube and GenealogyWise, a network I never really found a use for. The second image is a more recent screenshot of Carole’s Canvas. The main difference is the emphasis on pictures, as well as the general simpler and cleaner look. Pictures are what make a blog, or any social media post, more engaging.

Here are 10 social media sites that are not directly related to family history (except one) but are nevertheless important for communicating, sharing and collaborating with other family historians, and family in general.

In alphabetic order:

Blogger is the best-known of the free blog hosting sites. Writing a blog about your family history and the discoveries you make is one of the best ways of getting young people interested, and attracting other asyet-unknown relatives. It is owned by Google so you can use your Google ID to log in and create as many blogs as you like.  The address of your blog will be yourchosenname.blogspot.com. You can choose from a large number of designs and options, and posting is quick and easy.

Delicious is a social bookmarking site. You can save bookmarks to sites as you find them and categorise them however you wish. You can also find sites that others have similarly categorised, which can save you a lot of time when researching a topic or place. I no longer Delicious, and imported all my bookmarks into Evernote.

Facebook is a social networking site used by 500 million people around the world to connect with friends and family. It is easy to find people and for them to find you, if you want them to. As long as you change the privacy settings as soon as you join, and don’t click on anything you don’t understand, you will be safe from harm.

FamilySearch Wiki is a collection of over 80,000 articles (up from 40,000 four years ago) on many aspects of genealogy research around the world. Articles can be added and changed by anyone, making it progressively more comprehensive. It’s the best place to start if you find you have to research a country you aren’t familiar with.

Flickr is a photo and video sharing website. You can share as many photos as you like (within reason) with as many or as few people as you like. Photos of ancestors and places of historic value can be made public to attract others interested in the same people and places, and uploaded to the National Library of Australia’s Picture Australia (now part of Trove).

Google Docs is a free office suite of applications that allows you to share documents and collaborate with others. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms are all available. They are accessible to you anywhere as long as you can connect to the internet. You can keep them private or make them available to others to view or edit.

Pinterest is a popular place to collect and share photos and ideas. It is wonderful for gathering ideas for projects such as crafts or home decorating. It is fabulous for drawing together images on topics of historical interest, on your own family or local history in general. Pinterest has come a long way in four years, and is a new addition to this list.

Skype is a free program that allows you to make secure voice and video calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world over the internet. You just need an internet connection and a computer with a microphone and speaker such as a laptop, or an inexpensive headset. You can also buy a Skype phone to use like a regular phone, and make calls to regular phones, although they charge for this service.

Twitter is a ‘microblog’, where you can make short posts of 140 characters or less to give links to photos, websites, blog posts, or just ask questions and hold conversations. Twitter posts, or tweets, are searchable so you can find people interested in the same things as you. So many people and organisations use Twitter to let us know what they are doing that you can always learn something useful. Twitter has proved itself as the first place to get breaking news about local or world events. It also now displays photos directly in your feed, making it more engaging and immediate.

YouTube is a video sharing site that allows you to upload videos and share them with a few people or with everyone. You can search for videos on family history and other topics from archives, libraries, genealogy record companies and many other organisations.

I use most of these sites on a day-to-day basis. Many of them are now part of my daily life. I talk to my immediate family; share documents and photos; save bookmarks; read blogs and check Twitter on a regular basis. Although my own blogs are not hosted by Blogger, prefering to use my own hosting, I recommend it highly for first-time bloggers.

Try some of these out; do some searching, and see what you can find. You might be surprised. And hooked!

Google Reader was removed from the original list, as it was discontinued by Google. I have much less time to read blogs than I did four years ago, and I find that the only time I read them is when I see a link that interests me from another network such as Facebook or Google+.

Comments

  1. Thanks Carole for the update. It sums up nicely all the social media sites I use regularly with the exception of Evernote which I am still exploring.

  2. Katherine R. Willson says:

    Here’s some extra-special details (links) for using Facebook for Genealogy: http://socialmediagenealogy.com/genealogy-on-facebook-list/

  3. It won’t surprise you that I’d substitute WordPress for Blogger but with the fiction of G+ and hangouts (cf Skype) I’d agree with you. I’d add Feedly in lieu of Google reader and love Pinterest and Evernote.

  4. Thanks for the reminder about FamilySearch Wiki and Google Docs. I regularly use Blogger, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and Skype (and Google+ less often). I tried Delicious and didn’t like it, and Pinterest and YouTube are not really a success because I am out in the bush with relatively slow wireless broadband. I know Dropbox is not actually a social media site, but I often use it to swap family history documents and photos.

  5. Carole,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/12/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-december-19.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Hello Carole,

    I just stumbled upon your great list of social media resources today. Very helpful, thank you!

    I wanted to mention that we just published a post today (http://crestleaf.com/blog/using-facebook-photos-tell-family-story-crestleaf) about how you can use your family Facebook photos to build your family tree and family story.

    Using our Facebook photo integration with our family tree and timeline feature, users can upload old family photos, organize them by date, and even collaborate with other family members by inviting them to participate in creating their family story. It’s a great way to preserve family history and build your family story.

    I just thought this might be a nice addition to your article on how people can not only use social media for research and connecting to family and other historians, but to create their family tree and family story, as well.

    Let me know what you think. Thanks, Carole.

    Kind Regards,

    Mark Subel
    Chief Digital Officer
    Crestleaf
    http://www.CrestLeaf.com
    mark@crestleaf.com
    Twitter: @Crestleaf
    Our Blog: Crestleaf.com/Blog
    —-
    About Us: Crestleaf.com (a Top 100 genealogy site by Genealogy in Time Magazine) is a free online family tree builder that has been used by tens of thousands of people to document their family history. Along with the family tree tool, we provide free access to 90 Million+ historical records.