Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lots of Facebook Friends and Twitter Tweeters

I have been on Facebook for about eight months and have over 300 Facebook Friends now - it seems like "if you ask, they agree" in most cases. They are from all over the world.

Someone has created an application for Facebook that shows how your Facebook Friends are connected to each other. Here is my Facebook Friends Wheel. It shows who on my Friends list is a Friend of someone else on the wheel.

Isn't that cool? Colorful, too. If you are on Facebook, go to my Facebook page (but you have to be my Friend! Ask - I don't bite, I love Friends) and click on the link to "Create your Friend Wheel."

Then there is Twitter, where I've been a twit, er, a Tweeter, for only three about months. I use it as a shortcut to my Facebook pithy messages, and to post to the #genealogy group. Someone created an application that creates a photo montage of all of your Twitter Followers, and then a way to put it on the blog page, so I did that and you can see it on Genea-Musings by scrolling down past the Archives on the right margin. There's over 140 thumbnails of my Twitter Followers. It's like the Followers you see on other Blogger blogs (but notm ine...since i'm still using old Blogger).

Why be on Facebook and Twitter? The first and short answer is to "drive more readers to my blog." If I tweet "Randy posted about's New Search, Exact Matches process - see," as I did at 4:25 pm today, a number of people see it on Twitter and on Facebook (since tweets end up as Facebook pithy comments too with another application) and click on the link to the blog post. Since being on Twitter, the unique visits to Genea-Musings have increased by about 50%.

I, and many other Tweeters, use to limit the number of characters in an URL because Twitter has a limit of 140 characters per tweet.

There's a longer answer to the question, though. Being on Facebook and Twitter isn't just about being Friends with a lot of people and driving readers to my blog. There's a much more important reason: I accept the tenet that "genealogy needs to attract more young people" in order to continue to grow, and I think that social networking on sites like Facebook and Twitter are the way to do it. If you look at my Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers, there are a lot of young faces. These people are the future leaders, writers, developers, and mainstays of the genealogy world. They need to be educated, supported, and challenged by the genealogy community. So - it's a way to bring technologically savvy people into the genealogy world.

I have no doubt that, at some point, we will get "Genea-Facebook" with applications specific for genealogists and family historians. When that happens, genea-networking will really take off, and the nidivduals, societies and the community will benefit and prosper.

My Facebook Friends share small moments of their lives with me and their other Facebook Friends. I share moments of my life with them. There are serious, funny and happy times and we are gradually building a community that cares and shares. I noticed it when I was in Salt Lake City last month - I met about 30 Facebook Friends during the five days. Several of them just walked up to me and said "hi Randy, we're Facebook Friends, and I read your posts and blog." It was neat, but my problem was putting a face to the name to the voice to the research interest as quickly as they did it with me!

The next big challenge may be getting Facebook groups for local or regional genealogical societies. How can a Facebook group be used to help bring society members, who may be leery of joining an online environment, into a secure social networking environment? How can we tap their energy and knowledge to help others in the group, the genealogy society or genealogy as a whole? Some of us are trying to make it happen. And we're having a lot of fun getting to know our Facebook Friends in the process.


Becky Thompson said...

Excellent post, Randy! You make very good points and raise some new ones as well! I love the community support and comeraderie---it's so encouraging. Many genealogists are the sole one in their family so we have to find support outside our immediate family. With Facebook and Twitter we benefit all the ways you mentioned. Thanks!

Delia Furrer said...

I am a new Facebook user and this has been extremely rewarding. The genealogy community is such a friendly and welcoming group. I love the various articles and ideas that folks have and it has pushed me to go outside of the box and seek other methods. Becky is correct, Genealogy can be lonely and "meeting" with like minded makes you feel less alone. We all have the same research challenges. Randy, I appreciate your hard work with your blog and really enjoy your articles and research and sharing of what you learn. All of this makes it so much more fun!

Tamura Jones said...

There are multiple FaceBook genea apps, just joined that group,
and I expect FamilyLink to integrate their web and facebook apps.

Gena Philibert-Ortega said...

Hey Randy-I love this post and am awarding you the Kreativ Blogger award because you always come up with great posts that educate us! You can check it out at my blog at

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