Tuesday, August 17, 2010

NEHGS Using Facebook Page as a Message Board

Many genealogists have a Facebook presence in order to stay in contact with family, friends and genealogy colleagues. Many genealogy societies and companies have Facebook pages to make announcements, but very few are really "active" with helpful discussions between the entity and their readers.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has a Facebook page and has actively engaged their fan community by encouraging research questions and providing short but helpful answers. Here is the top of their page this morning:

As you can see, there are a number of queries posted by researchers. They are usually answered by NEHGS staff members (often by David Allen Lambert, the NEHGS Online Genealogist).

Increasingly, readers of the NEHGS Facebook page are engaging in the responses, as you can see in this query posted on Saturday:

This works for NEHGS because it has a critical mass - it has a large Facebook audience (over 5,000 fans), a large membership (over 25,000 members), and a staff that has actively embraced using Facebook to engage with their readers and members. It's a superb customer-company interface for this type of interaction. Kudos to NEHGS, and David Lambert, for finding a way to effectively use social networking to interact with genealogy researchers in an immediate and helpful manner.

Over the past week, there were 15 queries posted on the NEHGS Facebook page. One was an NEHGS announcement, and 3 have not been answered yet. NEHGS staff answered 10 of them, and other researchers answered one of them before NEHGS staff could. The NEHGS staff response was usually within three days of the initial query.

Do other genealogical societies have Facebook interactions like this? I checked a few that I know about, and didn't see any that had this type of interaction. If you know of other societies that invite and respond to queries like this, please let me know.

What about genealogical companies? Ancestry.com has a Facebook page with about 90,000 fans. There are many queries posted every day (many of them from beginners) and there are very few responses from readers, and even fewer from Ancestry.com staff. Footnote.com's Facebook page has posts from the company.

This is an excellent model for a genealogical society with a state-wide focus (enough members, limited focus) and persons willing to contribute expertise and opinion to answer queries and drive readers to society membership.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Funny, did you see page five of the latest American Ancestors (the NEHGS magazine)? NEHGS CEO Brenton Simons discusses the FB page here, and mentions three geneabloggers who used the NEHGS FB page to help other people-- Marion Pierre-Lewis, Sarah Cambell and me! Personally, I love FB and have developed FB groups such as the NH Mayflower group four years ago (back then only kids were on FB and I was capturing them for our scholarship program- we have advanced to other older members now), and I actively participate in many other genealogy groups at FB. I started on FB back in 2004, back when you needed an email address that ended in .edu and MIT was one of the participating schools. I liked it for the possiblility of posting unlimited cemetery photos. Those photos are still on my profile.

Unknown said...

Randy, there are many Facebook genealogy groups listed on the Genealogy Network Facebook fan page.