Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday's Tip~Gettin' By With Help from Our Friends-Alona Tester

This week it's a pleasure to welcome Aussie friend Alona Tester from Gould Genealogy.

Today’s Tuesday Tip is all about social media and genealogy, and how you can get the most out of it.
Genealogy is HUGE on social media, and it can help you in so many ways. While there are a ridiculous number of social sites around the best known ones are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr and YouTube, so for the purpose of this article, I’ll stick to just them.
Guess what, Facebook is more than just posting pics of your food, and status updates, it has become an invaluable tool for those researching their family history. The last few years there has been a MASSIVE increase in the number of genealogy-related groups and pages on there. If you don’t believe me just check out Katherine Willson’s Genealogy of Facebook list which now has over 11,000 links. My own list for Australian links now has over 1000, and Gail Dever’s list it the place to look for links about Canada. There are country-related genealogy groups, as well as state or county related ones – these are a great place to ask questions relating to research in the region. There are town history groups which share stories and old pictures from the past … which perfect for learning more about the time you family was there. And there are topic-specific ones … DNA, adoption, convicts, military history, genealogy software groups and more. There’s also plenty of “Descendants of ….. “ groups, as Facebook has become a way that extended family members can keep in touch and share information about the family history. You can also follow libraries, societies, and other genealogical organizations to keep up with the latest news and record releases from them.
Twitter tends to be the next most popular social site, but I find people either get it, or they don’t … it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. Yes, it’s different from Facebook – for a start, you can only type 140 characters long [update: I see that Twitter are just introducing trials of 280 characters]. So you get snippets of information, rather than long spiels. I follow a bunch of genealogy people and organizations on Twitter to get ‘news’ essentially. But how do you know who to follow? Well a good place to start is to have a look at those who use the hashtag #genealogy. If you’ve not used Twitter before, go to www.twitter.com, type #genealogy in the search box, and see what people are writing that is genealogy-related. Once you’ve created an account, you can then follow them – which means you’ll see all the tweets they send. As I said it’s a great way to get genie news in short snippets.
If you find that you’re busy enough with Facebook and Twitter you may wish to skip Google+, but it does have the advantage of having communities which some certainly like and is a great way to interact with others with the same interests. And there’s also no adverts clogging it up like there is on Facebook these days.
I’ll admit I’m not a Pinterest fan – but that is purely because I have enough other social media accounts to deal with. However, I do know many who are totally hooked on it. Think of Pinterest as like a giant wall of pinboards. You can have up to 500 pinboards (I’m pretty sure that’s the maximum, but correct me if I’m wrong), and you can use keywords to find what others have posted, and if you like it you can pin it on one of your pinboards – so you can go back to it later. While I’m not an active Pinterest user, I know that genealogy is a big topic on Pinterest, so why not check it out?
This is a great one, but one that’s not used enough. Flickr is a photo sharing site and is generally recognized as being a public place that everyone can see, though you can have private albums if you choose. It’s a place that lots of State Libraries and other organizations are putting their collections, so you’ll find LOTS of old photos. You can search by organization or by keyword. Find photos of the occupations your great-grandfather did, or a photo of the street your grandma grew up in. Or a photo of the church multiple generations of your family were baptized in and so on. Perfect to help fill in the social history and make your history more than just names and dates.
 Where do I start with YouTube? Do you have queries on how to use your genealogy software? Check YouTube? What is the best way to organize my genealogy? Check YouTube. What about some short genealogy tips? There are so many; you’ll lose count! I need some help using this website or that website? Check YouTube. You get the point … there are 1000s of videos on YouTube that you learn from. All the big name genealogy sites have YouTube accounts, as do many major libraries and archives. They’re worth following to keep up with what’s new and how to best use their collections. You can simply type genealogy in the search box, and you’ll get an idea of just how big genealogy is on YouTube. There is a phenomenal lot there, but just scroll through, and you’ll find some that sound interesting, and others that don’t – so just pick and choose.

One last tip … don’t try to follow everyone, and join every social site out there. Seriously, if you do, you won’t have a life! But use the sites you feel more comfortable with, and follow people/groups/organizations that look interesting to you. Learn from them, let them inspire you.

Alona Tester is a family historian from Gould Genealogy. Based in South Australia, she has 25+ years experience in the genealogy industry and is a genealogy educator and blogger.
She is the author of Genealogy & History Newsblog as well as her own personal genealogy blog, LoneTester HQ.

Great tips, Alona! 

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Helping you climb your family tree,

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