We’ve just received an e-mail from a historical society – the Huguenot Historical Society in New Paltz, NY – informing us that it now has a fan page on Facebook:
Social media is changing the way we communicate and Historic Huguenot Street is part of the wave. You can now find and follow HHS on Facebook. In just a few short weeks, and without any public announcement, HHS already has over 275 fans on Facebook — so many that we now have our own Facebook URL, which makes us easy to find. Check us out and join us as a fan at http://www.facebook.com/huguenotstreet.
It’s great to see genealogical and historical societies embracing social media such as Facebook, Twitter and, of course, blogging. One of the planned initiatives at GeneaBloggers is to introduce the various components of social media networking to genealogical and historical societies.
Many of us support and/or belong to one or more of these groups – some of us even do so from afar and interact with the society virtually, never having stepped foot on their premises! And while so many libraries and archives seem to have embraced Facebook, blogs and especially Twitter very quickly, genealogical and historical societies: not so much.
Besides trying to identify someone among the membership with the skills to not only set up these account but to also administer them, there is a big hurdle to overcome: perception of board members as to what social media is and what it can (and can’t) do.
All too often, because these societies are staffed and administered by older genealogists who also may have a lack of technical skills, the information they hear, read and see about applications like Facebook is often pejorative and slanted towards the negative.
Keep in mind that there is a duty of board members of these societies to protect the reputation of the society – and they are often adverse to their group being associated with Facebook, Twitter or any method of marketing which is often in the news.
Remember when you first started using “The Internets” or as my older relatives say, “The Google?” Didn’t you encounter one or more persons who would shake their head and voiced concerned that you were on the path of damnation and no return by using AOL or Yahoo (or Lycos, or GeoCities)? That you would have your identity stolen? That your reputation could be ruined?
And so it seems there is a peception hurdle to deal with before genealogical and historical societies are even ready to set up something as simple as a blog.
How does one go about change perceptions of technology and specifically social media networking in the genealogy field and more pointedly, changing those perceptions held by genealogical and historical societies?
© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee