09 December 2014

Facebook can be a genealogical goldmine or a "too much" nightmare -- taming social media

Are you on Facebook (FB)?  If so, you probably know what I mean when I say I have a love/hate relationship with this social media platform.  I love all that is possible with it and I also hate it for the same reason.  I am forced to “constrain” myself so that I don’t spend more than a few minutes each day on it (versus the hours that I could easily manage ).

That said, on FB you can find some gems.  So, how does one balance all that can be found on FB with the reality that we can only spend so much time a day?

Planning and being pro-active. 

We have written about some ways to reign in all that is FB; see list below.

Recently, the GenealogyInsider (Family Tree Magazine), posted 12 Kinds of Organizations Genealogists Should Follow on Facebook.  Of course, this blog is partial to item #4 “Major genealogical societies, libraries and archives.”

Let’s do the math – if you followed only 1 of each kind of these organization feeds, life might be manageable.  And, as you pursue more and more research, your needs for information will keep growing and so will your FB “likes!” This is ignoring your family, your friends, your non-genealogical interests, and much more.  All too soon you could spend all day on FB if you don’t tame your News Feed.

Are these all I keep up with?  NO!  There are many genealogy blogs that I follow (though for those I use email feeds, Blogtrottr -- a means to get those valuable genealogy blog posts to your inbox!) using other methods.

Our focus now is on FB.  This means that I won’t be mentioning the many stellar blogs which also have FB pages if I already receive an auto-sorted email feed  

Now, just because you follow a genealogy society or archive or pundit or family members FB page, doesn’t mean that you have to have those posts constantly real-time feeding your ever-growing News Feed.
·    I “like” a lot of blogs, individuals, commercial and non-profit enterprises, and more and yet I only have a few “must read” ones that I feed directly to my FB page.  These are the ones that I have found will give me a quick pulse on the news in our genealogy and family history community. 
·    For the other “likes,” I just “follow” them.  At any time I can visit the appropriate FB page and see what is happening.

Also, feel free to “unlike” something. 
·    Sometimes a feed will get on your nerves as more and more people join it  and/or it seems to remain less on topic (even if there is a moderator). 
·    Sometimes a feed doesn’t have relevance as you have shifted your research focus to another locale, for example.
·    Or over time, you might realize that you are getting versions of the same information from other “suppliers” and so you can winnow down your list (I also do this regularly with my email feeds; the list is constantly growing and then shrinking on a cyclical basis).  
·    Just because you “liked” something or someone at one point, doesn’t mean that you are stuck with it for life!

And, I have “no” notifications set for my News Feed (well, I think I still have them for posts by my kids and that is it).  
·    Meaning, I don’t get any emails, text message or any kind of messages from FB regarding what’s been “newly” posted.  
·    I handle this by looking at FB 1st thing in the morning, a few minutes at lunch and then a few minutes before dinner. I just scroll through my News Feed to catch up and I’m done.  This way I am not constantly interrupted all day

Select FB feeds that I keep in my “News Feed” are:
·    National Genealogical Society (I bet this one surprised you!)
·    Thomas MaEntee (do know that some personal tidbits are included in this feed; otherwise, check out Geneabloggers and/or Hack Genealogy – both have FB pages)
·    Federation of Genealogical Societies (I also wear a hat as a local genealogy society officer)
·    Slate’s The Vault Blog (often posts interesting historical documents)
·    Judy G Russell (The Legal Genealogist)
·    The Photo Detective (Maureen Taylor)
·    Geneanet

... and many, many more.

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