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Genealogy Do-Over – Week 11, Cycle 3: 11-17 September 2015

The Genealogy Do-Over - Week 11 Topics: 1) Reviewing Social Media Options and 2) Building a Research Network

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Previous topics in the Genealogy Do-Over:

[Editor’s note: Much of the text below is unchanged from the original Week 11 posting on March 13, 2015, except for my personal updates.]

Topics: 1) Reviewing Social Media Options and 2) Building a Research Network

As we enter Week 11 of the Genealogy Do-Over, I want to say “thank you” to everyone who has participated in some manner or is preparing to participate starting with the next cycle. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe this topic of “redoing” your genealogy research would be so popular. Social media – one of our topics this week – has been a key factor in the success. My hope is that this week you’ll be able to learn more about social media and leverage those skills to assist in your genealogy research.

And remember that when the current Genealogy Do-Over cycle ends, on 1 October 2015, I’ll be restarting with Week 1, Cycle 4 on Friday, 2 October 2015 and it will run through Thursday 31 December 2015.

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Reviewing Social Media Options

Recently I had a conversation with a group of genealogists, of varying ages and levels of experience. One person made the following statement: You really can’t succeed with your genealogy research these days without some use of social media.

And the reaction? Most of the heads nodded yes. I think that five years ago such a statement would have caused quite a debate. But in the past five years we’ve seen social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest take over for the tools we may have used 10 or 20 years ago: queries posted in newsletters, lookup requests posted in online groups or online bulletin boards (remember those?), and even items posted in periodicals like Everton’s Genealogical Helper.


Here are some social media resources that you may not have considered as a way to assist in your genealogical research:

  • Technology for Genealogy ( – got a technical question related to genealogy software or even what type of scanner to buy? Here’s a group of over 13,000 helpful genealogists who will gladly answer any type of question.
  • The Organized Genealogist ( – over 19,000 people sharing ideas about getting their genealogy materials and digital files organized. Covers filing systems, file naming conventions, archival practices and more. Again, another group where you post a question and other helpful genealogists provide answers and options.
  • Genealogy – Cite Your Sources ( – have a question about the proper way to cite a specific record? Not sure how to get started on citing your sources? This group will point you in the right direction and show you how easy it is to get your sources cited.
  • Pinterest – while some people think Pinterest is purely a bunch of BSOs (“bright and shiny objects”), others have been able to build research toolboxes and even ancestor timelines to share with others. Keep in mind that Pinterest is currently the #3 source for website traffic (after Google and Facebook). See the GeneaBloggers boards on Pinterest ( for examples.
  • Twitter – did you know you can search Twitter without having a Twitter account? Use this link to search the #genealogy “hashtag” ( Remember that a hashtag is simply a label or a way to tell people what the posted message is about.

Review your options and don’t be afraid to sign up for a social media account, even if you have to delete it later.

  • What I Plan to Do: As you can imagine, I have a pretty solid social media presence after spending the past few years incorporating Facebook and Pinterest as well as other platforms into my research toolbox. My challenge is to find better ways of managing social media. Right now it can too easily become a BSO; I prefer to treat it like a television that is on in the corner of the room while I work. If something catches my attention, I may take a quick minute to take a look. Otherwise, I don’t let it consume my day.
  • New to Social Media: If you have not used social media in any form, you may want to go slow and start with one platform, such as Facebook. Also, get help from someone who knows Facebook and can help you get set up. And my best advice: only use it for genealogy. No games, no drama, no nonsense. I’ve found that with a very narrow use of Facebook (mainly connecting with other genealogists), I’ve had a much better experience on the site.
  • Currently Using Social Media: Challenge yourself to look at other platforms besides the ones you are currently using.

Building a Research Network

You might be wondering, “What does he mean by research network?” Well, by participating in the Genealogy Do-Over, you’re already part of one.

“No genealogist is an island.” While pursuing one’s roots may seem like a solitary obsession, the truth is that as researchers we soon realize that we can’t “go it alone.” Whether it is joining a local genealogical society or engaging with a regular group of researchers at a local library or even joining a genealogy-focused Facebook group, you’ll get more out of the entire experience if you slowly build a network

Research Network = Research Toolbox

Remember back in Week 5 when one of the topics for the Genealogy Do-Over was Building a Research Toolbox? Well approach building your genealogy network the same way.

This doesn’t mean that you only engage with other genealogists who can offer you some knowledge or help you with your research. It is a two way street. In fact, my approach has been more of a one way street: give your knowledge freely and you’ll attract others who can help you in the future.

If you have a hard time remembering a person’s name, face and genealogy focus area, consider using a contact program or even Evernote to “keep tabs” on your network. Another great platform, believe it or not, is LinkedIn ( With LinkedIn, you can create your own profile and then seek out other genealogists and people with similar interests. Check out my profile at to see how you can add skills, publications and even articles and then make connections with other users.

  • What I Plan to Do: I’m always looking to expand my genealogy network and here is how I do it: 1) In-person at genealogy conferences, I don’t attend all sessions. I will sit in a lunch area or a hallway and talk with other attendees. I always have a business card handy and I always end the conversation with “Let me know how I can help;” and 2) On-line I try to welcome new members to Facebook groups and ask them what they are researching or what they need help with. I’m going to simply “keep on keepin’ on” since this strategy has served me very well over the past five years. Not only have I been able to build a network I can rely on for resources and information, but I’ve made some great friends as well.

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And that’s all I have for this week’s topic of the Genealogy Do-Over. Get ready for next week when we’ll discuss the best ways to share your genealogy research and also, how to prepare for a genealogy research trip!

Next Week: Week 12 – 18-24 September 2015

  • Sharing Research
  • Reviewing Research Travel Options

Thanks for being a part of the Genealogy Do-Over and your feedback is always appreciated. You can leave a comment on the blog post at GeneaBloggers, email me at or post at the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.