One of the main reasons people join genealogical societies is to meet others who share their passion. As the digital world developed so did online social networks. The genealogical community has used them to expand our reach – quite literally – to the far corners of the earth. This is a wonderful thing, but it also comes with some concerns. Today I’m finding these huge networks somewhat overpowering and claustrophobic. So I started looking for the digital equivalent of the Shop Around the Corner.
What I found was tumblr.
To say tumblr is a blog platform doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s part blog, part social network. It’s more like Twitter on steroids. Although tumblr is a “player” in the social networking arena (it is owned by Yahoo) it has its own quirky style. It costs you nothing to create a tumblr blog and you can have multiple blogs if you would like. It’s quite easy to use and there are mobile apps so your blog(s) are accessible wherever you go. It does not have a formal commenting system. Instead, it operates more like Twitter with reblogging and favoriting features. You follow other tumblrs and they follow you. The builtin reader displays your followers latest posts and is where you interact with others.
Here’s a look at the reader in the tumblr dashboard. From here I can create new posts, read the latest posts from the people I follow and network with them by sharing, reblogging or favoriting their posts.
How can a society use tumblr to build their own social network? Here are some suggestions . . .
- Create special interest blogs – genealogy basics, digital toolbox, Evernote tips, etc. – to point readers to useful articles, video tutorials and other material already online.
- Encourage members to create their own tumblr blogs to document their research efforts and the stories they discover in the process. This member network not only becomes its own support group, but their blogging can also attract research cousins – one of the best benefits of geneablogging.
- Host online events to share family history stories and memorabilia. You might have a call for wedding photos in June, share special holiday traditions for Christmas or contests for the best organizational tips.
tumblr is free, easy to use and fun. Yahoo will add the occasional sponsored post (otherwise known as advertising) to your reading list, but I’ve found Yahoo less intrusive than other social platforms. If you are looking for a way to network with your members, take a look at tumblr. You might start by visiting my Genealogy 101 tumblr. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.